If you are reading this post, I am mostly sure you have either been in my situation or you are about to be. If I have to be honest, Latin was the biggest challenge in my studies and since I never had it in school, I had to do an additional exam at the university in order to finish my studies.
As now I am almost through with everything and writing my BA-paper, I needed to settle things with Latin ASAP. What I did was not the wisest thing I admit and mainly, leave it for the very end. I’ve always told myself: “There is time” or “I have too much going on right now to deal with it”, but honestly all of that was just my itty-bitty friend called “procrastination” whispering in my ear.
So, guys, I know for some this is always a challenge. Some have a natural hunch for languages, some don’t. I speak five-ish languages, so I want to share with you my experience on how I learn languages faster and more efficiently without making the process tedious and redundant.
- Be motivated
As with everything, you have to be motived about the thing you are doing, otherwise, it won’t work out and you don’t need to be a genius to realize that. This goes for learning a new language as well. Maybe you are going to Italy for a trip with friends or on your own? – Then wouldn’t it be nice to order your pasta and gelato like a true Italian? Or if you just see it as a way to improve your CV? This can be a motivation enough, especially in times like this when the world is becoming more and more globalized.
2. Find someone around you who knows the language
I know that speaking with a native speaker can be a bit nerve-racking. You always wonder if they will think your accent sounds funny or if the things you are saying are just a bunch of jibberish. I have to assure you that in most cases if the person as well is a speaker of more than one language they are aware that learning and perfecting a language takes a lot of time and practice. If someone makes fun of you for trying, then I would just tell you they are close-minded and not worth talking with. Mastering a new language is a challenge, especially if this is a language which does not belong to your language group (Romance, Slavic, Germanic, Baltic etc.). Therefore, try to talk as much as you can with someone who is proficient in the language and can help you out with odd things and special traits of the language.
If you just came to Vienna or you are planning a visit you would probably want to feel a little bit more local. What better way than using some phrases that will help you with the basics? There is this amazing website called “Duolingo” and if you haven’t already heard of it, make sure to check it out. It offers a completely free program for learning language either from the very beginning or it can help you brush up your language knowledge.
It is most profitable if you speak English, I must say, because you can learn more languages that way. You have access to courses not only in German but Italian, French, Russian, Spanish, Norwegian and many, many more. It doesn’t take a lot of time, it is easy to work with and it is not at all demanding.
You can also use it as an app on your phone. Personally I love to make the small exercises while I am on the tram or waiting for something. It is at the same time helpful, interesting and very productive. Some say that if you had even basic language skills in advance you can go up till level B1 or B2 for some languages. It really depends on your level of determination and how much time you take to practice it.
“Duolingo” may not be very helpful when it comes to real-life dialogues which have a duration span of ten minutes or more but be sure to use it if you want to know some phrases which can get you around. The one thing you can be sure of, though, is that if you practice regularly you will be at least able to write and read properly in the chosen language.
My personal experience is with French and German. For German I already had a quite high level so I did not find it very useful but for French it was a blessing. I always wanted to learn the language but never had the chance for different reasons. Then I remembered about “Duolingo” and decided to give it a try. I had absolutely no clue how to go with French. The only words I knew were “bonjour” and “merci”. I had a lot of determination and I started practicing every day, I think I was putting two to three hours a day to improve what I have learned and did regular revisions. However, once the semester started I couldn’t make that much time for it and I made a very, very long pause from French.
Then not earlier than a week ago I picked it up again. From the very beginning! Imagine my surprise when everything started coming to place and it was almost as if I haven’t stopped. It was a really pleasing feeling to know that what you’ve learned actually stayed with you and wasn’t just a waste of time.
So my advice is, if you want a quick way to pick up some German on your way to work for example be sure to try it out. I am sure you will find it interesting and if it doesn’t work for you, at least you didn’t lose anything by trying.