How did you learn (insert language)??
Hello everyone! My name is Juan, I very recently joined the team at Glassbow, I'm here to introduce myself and to answer the age-old question: "How did you learn (insert language) so quickly?".
I'm actually from Colombia. Currently, I'm leaving in Germany and will soon move to Austria to continue my studies in music. Apart from Spanish, my mother tongue, I speak English (duh), German and Italian fluently, while being able to convincingly dabble in a couple more.
David, Glassbow's pioneer actually reached out to me, since he knows I'm a language freak. 3 years ago, all the German I knew was Bratwurst, and all the Italian I knew was, well, all the pasta in the grocery shop; so how did I manage to learn so quickly?
The first couple of times I got this question, I really didn't know how to answer, I was never in an intensive course, and didn't do an exchange of any sorts, so I started asking myself, oh Juan, how did you learn this?
People assume it's some natural talent, a tower of Babbel gene of some sorts, but I think what helped me the most was the drive and fascination by the languages I was learning, and the cultures attached to them. So my first tip would be: Don't try to learn a language you don't like. You'll just be frustrated, and will dread opening that textbook and interacting with native speakers. I understand that for some reason or another you might have to learn a language for work or family related reasons. But if you get a choice, do something that drives you, be it Italian, Klingon or Tagalog.
My second tip is, in fact, the most tedious part of the process, and that is: Learn your grammar jargon. Of course, we all know that guy from Kazakhstan that only had American TV growing up, and he learned English without ever opening a book and sounds like Joey from Friends. But learning the building blocks of the language will make your life way easier when you encounter unknown structures and constructions. I'm not telling you to get a linguistics degree, but know what a subject, verb, and object are, what the past participle is, and the difference between passive and active voice. Deconstruct your own language as well, I promise it will only help you get better in learning a foreign language.
Third tip: Media, media, and more media. Input is such an important part of foreign language acquisition; films, games, books, tv, newspapers. There's never too much input. A good start is children books or literature you're already familiar with (you can browse Glassbow's bilingual collection over here). When I started learning German, I set my phone in German from day 1, I couldn't figure out how to log out of my email for ages, but it was well worth it in the long run. A great resource is also the EasyLanguages Youtube channel, which interviews people on the street so that you get a feel for how the language is actually spoken.
Fourth and final tip for today: Output! No matter how you learn, be it in a course, or by yourself; you need to start speaking as soon as possible! Don't be afraid of mistakes, think about it; would you mock someone who is trying to learn your language? I assume the answer is no! (Unless you're French :P) In Spanish we call that "soltar la lengua", letting the tongue loose. Find a Tandem partner, go to the country, if you're shy you can download an app like Hellotalk which matches you with people that speak your target language, who want to speak your mother tongue.
No more excuses! A year from now you'll regret not having started learning Zulu, or Guarani, or Portuguese (believe me or not, Portuguese is the weirdest of those three). So start your learning adventure! If you like this post, leave us a like on Facebook and check our website out; we have a massive sale going on right now!