How to learn a new Language as a Second Language?
People who speak more than one language are considered multilingual. These individuals possess highly active brains and tend to score higher on tests that measure open-mindedness. Moreover, they show noticeable symptoms of Alzheimer’s almost five years later than people who are monolingual. The process of learning a new language begins with the pre-production stage and progresses to advanced fluency, with the duration varying amongst individuals. We mention the importance and methods of learning a second language in this article.
Second-language acquisition (SLA), sometimes referred to as second-language learning, is the process by which people learn a new language. The term ‘Second language’ refers to any language acquired in addition to one’s first language. While the concept is labeled as second-language acquisition, it can also incorporate the learning of third, fourth, or subsequent languages. Learning a language is a complicated, time-intensive task that needs dedication, persistence, and hard work. Learning a second language involves various skills including reading, listening, speaking, writing, sometimes even a new alphabet and writing format. If you exclusively focus on one skill, the others fall behind.
This is actually a common mistake for language learners. For example, it’s tempting to focus solely on reading comprehension ,especially because written language is often readily available—textbooks provide abundant written material. The same applies to the three key elements: it’s comparatively easy to find input sources (like your textbook) and practice understanding them. But neglecting the other two key principles (output and feedback/review) can hinder language development.
What you truly need is a balanced study plan, incorporating study activities that equally address both spoken and written language, and gives due attention to all the three key principles. Therefore, make sure to pay equal attention to all the three key components: input, output and review or feedback.
1.1 Key elements in language learning
Language learning involves several special key principles. Firstly, second language acquisition research indicates that there are fundamental aspects to learning another language.
- Comprehensible input – This term refers to hearing or reading something in the second language. It means being exposed to a new language and learning to understand it.
- Comprehensible output: The second principle involves learning to speak or write something in the second language, essentially to produce.
- Feedback/review: The third principle is feedback or review, which means identifying errors and making changes in your responses.
These three elements are crucial language practice, and with a well-structured study plan, you can maximize the benefits of all three factors. The more you engage in listening and reading (input), the more you practice speaking and writing (output), and the more you revisit your work to learn from errors (review & feedback), over time your language skills will improve. Therefore, it is essential to develop a specialized study-plan that enhances all dimensions of the language learning process.
1.2 You need to make mistakes
One of the most significant challenges in language learning is overcoming our own fears. Anyone learning another language is bound to make mistakes and these mistakes are often common and noticeable to others. There are various fears associated with language learning: fear of making an error, of saying something incorrect, of embarrassing yourself, of struggling to find the correct word, and so on. However, it is essential for learners to embrace those mistakes. Making errors and then learning from them is one of the key elements of language learning. This is precisely what review & feedback means. Furthermore, if you are unwilling to make mistakes, then it can adversely affect your output (the amount of language you produce). In other words, being afraid of making errors negatively affects two of the three key elements of language learning! So, what should you do? To some extent, you may need to push yourself to become comfortable with making errors. However, it is also important to look for opportunities for low-stakes practice. Create situations in which you feel more at ease trying out your new language skills and making those inevitable mistakes. One effective solution is finding a study partner who shares the same level of proficiency in the new language. This is often more comfortable than practicing with an advanced student or a native speaker, and such partners are usually easier to find—you will likely have a whole class full of potential partners!
1.3 First and second language
There are at least three differences between adults who learn a new language and children learning their first language:
- Adults already have a first language that orientates their thinking and speaking
- Adults have mature minds whereas children are still developing their brains,
- Although some adult second-language learners reach very high levels of proficiency, pronunciation tends to be non-native.
Acquiring a new language enables us to develop various mental abilities at all ages, and being bilingual offers many tangible benefits:
- Sharpens the mind.
- Boosts brain power.
- Enhances proficiency in the first language. Enhances the ability to multitask. …
- Keeps the mind sharper for longer.
- Enhances decision-making.
- Improves memory.
- Improves overall brain function.
- Assists in career development .
- Improves performance in other academic areas.
Why is learning another language important?
There are numerous other advantages in learning another language, including greater academic achievement, enhanced cognitive development, and more positive attitudes towards other languages and cultures. Language learning is crucial for students to function effectively in the modern global marketplace. Starting to learn a new skill is one of the most practical ways to make use of your spare time in today’s world. Successful individuals are often those who eagerly embrace learning something new every day, whether itis learning about other cultures or acquiring a new language. In our multilingual world, connections are now more important than ever. Knowing another language can provide you with a distinct advantage as the world becomes increasingly globalized.
A second language can significantly impact your career. Living in an interconnected world means that an increasing number of job opportunities are requiring proficiency in more than one language.
As more companies engage in international; trade and establish relationships with other countries, employees are often required to travel for work, strengthen these relationships, or sometimes are asked to relocate abroad. In addition to increasing your chances of securing a good job or advancing in your career, learning a new language can also provide you with an insight into other cultures. This knowledge equips you with the confidence to travel the world and explore different styles of living.
Integration is a genuine challenge for many countries, and this is often due to language barriers. People living outside of their home countries can find themselves isolated, interacting primarily with individuals with similar linguistic backgrounds. Learning another language opens up the opportunity for being part of a community with a different culture, enabling you to gain a deeper understanding about the world around us. Did you know that being bilingual can also help you master your first language? For example, learning a new language with similar roots can facilitate the acquisition of other languages.
Top ten advantages of learning languages are as follows:
Our ability to connect with others is one of the most rewarding aspects of the human experience. Communication with someone in their language is a wonderful gift. Individuals who can communicate with a wider range of people in their personal and professional lives have a unique opportunity to connect with different ways of lives. Knowing a language makes you a local no matter where you are, opening up your world literally and figuratively. You will be embraced by communities. You will be humbled by the kindness of strangers. You will build lifelong friendships. And for these reasons alone, you will see the reward of learning languages for many years to come.
2.2 Advance Your Career
A significant competitive advantage that sets you apart from your monolingual peers can be language skills. Language proficiency ranks among the top eight skills required in virtually all occupations, and the demand for bilingual professionals is rapidly increasing. Employers are seeking professionals who can communicate seamlessly with customers in emerging overseas markets and effectively serve and sell to a large foreign-born population withing our own borders. In many instances, language skills also lead to increased salaries. Whatever your career aspiration may be, adding language skills puts you ahead of the crowd!
2.3 Feed Your Brain
There are numerous cognitive benefits of learning languages. Individuals who speak more than one language have improved memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, ability to multitask, and better listening skills. Switching between competing tasks and monitoring changes in their environment is easier for bilinguals compared to monolinguals, and they often display signs of greater creativity and flexibility. As if these advantages weren’t enough, as we age, being bilingual or multilingual also helps to delay mental aging and cognitive decline.
2.4 Deepen Your Connection to Other Cultures
The most direct connection to other cultures is language. When we communicate in another language, it exposes us to and cultivates an appreciation for the traditions, religions, arts, and history of the people linked to that language. This deeper understanding, in turn, promotes greater tolerance, empathy, and acceptance of others. Studies have shown that children who have studied another language are more open and express more positive attitudes toward the culture associated with that language.
2.5 See the World
Traveling as a speaker of the local language can transform a trip abroad. While monolingual travelers can visit the same places, those who know more than one language can navigate beyond the tourist bubble more easily. They are able to connect and interact with the place and its people in ways often inaccessible to those without the language skills. Learning a new language also opens additional doors to opportunities for studying or working abroad. If you want to visit the Arabic countries for Ziyarat, it is advantageous to know the Arabic language, which is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Check out our Arabic course .
2.6 Go to the Source
In a world of more than 6,000 spoken languages, there are occasions where we require translation. However, proficiency in at least one another language empowers us to access information that would otherwise be inaccessible. For instance, individuals proficient in other languages are able to navigate the Internet as true global citizens—consuming and assessing foreign media and entertainment. If you want to understand the meaning of the Holy Quran without its translation, we invite you to join us in our Arabic course.
2.7 Become a Polyglot
When you learn another language, you develop new neural networks that are primed and ready when you embark on learning a third language. Research shows that it makes picking up additional languages a much easier feat, especially for children. Therefore, learning a second language not only improves communication skills but enhances your vocabulary in your first language.
2.8 Boost Your Confidence
Learning a language means putting yourself out there and moving out of your comfort zone. Any language learner can attest to making their fair share of mistakes while exploring a second language, often in front of an audience. It’s a necessary part of the learning process! The upside is the incredible sense of accomplishment you’ll experience when conversing with someone in their native language.
2.9 Strengthen Your Decision Making
According to the Studies, decisions made in your second language tend to be more rational than those made in your native language. This means that, contrary to popular assumptions, when we deliberate in a second or third language, we actually distance ourselves from the emotional responses and biases deeply associated with our mother tongue. The result? Systematic and clear-headed decisions based solely on the facts.
2.10 Gain Perspective
As we explore another language and culture, we naturally draw comparisons to what is most familiar to us. Learning about another culture sheds light on aspects of our own culture—both positive and negative— that we may not have previously considered. You may develop a greater appreciation for what you have, or you may decide to make some changes!
3.What You Need to Know About Learning another Language
- Learning a second language is similar to learning a new skill, so one of the most important facts about language-learning is this: Don’t set a strict time-line for learning a new language. There’s no fixed number of hours for mastering a language, and the learning process varies from person to person.
- Watching films or television shows that interest you can be beneficial for learning another language. Studies have found that individuals who frequently engage with these media tend to excel in reading, listening and learning vocabulary. Subtitles enables you to both see and hear each spoken word.
- Create real-life scenarios and engage in hypothetical conversations as part of the learning process.
- Learning the words that look and mean the same thing as words you already know can boost confidence. These words are called cognates. For instance, historia in Spanish or bruder in German or saffron, pistachio, spinach, paradise and so on in Persian. Learning these words first may help you realize that learning a new language is not as challenging as it seems.
- Exposing your mind to a language without consciously trying to learn can be very beneficial. In other words, learning another language primarily involves listening. As a result, more than 70 per cent of your learning time should be devoted to listening and reading. Most of our courses focuses on conversation, which helps improve listening and speaking skills. Additionally, we offer various written materials including stories, essays, news and more for enhancing your reading skills. Try our Arabic language course.
How to learn a new language
Learning another language is challenging, frustrating, and sometimes just downright difficult. Figuring out the best way to learn a new language? That seems nearly impossible. Different science, theories, and learning styles are so numerous, and truthfully, some languages are easier to learn than others. Perhaps you’re great at conversing in French, but can’t write in Spanish to save your life. Despite the difficulties, multilingualism is rapidly growing in popularity around the world and bilingualism is becoming a highly-desired addition to resumes. You might need to learn a language for an upcoming trip, or to take on new job responsibilities. Or perhaps you simply want to read your favorite novel in its original language. Whatever your reason for learning another language, you can probably agree it’d be ideal to learn it quickly. Yet the idea of learning a language, especially from scratch, seems anything but fast: you’ll have to grasp a new grammar, memorize vocabulary words, and practice speaking. However, learning a second language doesn’t need to be a slow or tedious process. While nothing can replace the hard work and effort it requires, you can certainly learn a new foreign language quickly if you follow the right strategy and dedicate yourself to the process.
Follow these eight steps, and you’ll be on your way to mastering that second language faster than you ever imagined!
4.1 Set language-learning targets
Setting goals for what you want to achieve is the first step in learning another language. When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. If you don’t set goals, how can you know what you want to achieve and measure whether you have accomplished it? When confronted with the idea of learning another language, most of us feel overwhelmed. There are so many words to learn and so many different ways to study. Setting goals narrows your focus so you can stop worrying about the details and get down to business. Research shows that people who set the right kind of goals are more likely to achieve success.
Use these guidelines to get the most from your goals:
- Focus on specific, tangible outcomes. Set detailed goals, and focus on what you plan to learn rather than how much time you plan to study. An example of a good goal might be, “This week I’m going to learn 20 Arabic vocabulary words related to shopping.”
- Set short-term goals. It’s good to have an ultimate goal—the thing you eventually hope to achieve. But long-term goals are too overwhelming to motivate you on an everyday basis. Break down your ultimate goal into smaller bits, and set smaller goals for each week or month.
- Challenge yourself (but not too much). Goals work best when they make you push yourself. But if they’re too daunting, they can actually discourage you. A good way to get around this is to set goals with a range of outcomes. For example, you might say, “I want to learn 30-50 new vocabulary words this week.” The lower number in this range helps you feel the goal is achievable, while the higher number allows you to push yourself.
- Write down your goals. Writing down goals helps you commit to them. Post your goals in a prominent place, like your bathroom mirror or the home screen of your smartphone.
4.2 Learn the “right” words
Languages are made up of a shocking number of words. English, for example, has between 600,000 and 1 million words. Luckily, you don’t need to learn anywhere near that many words to be proficient in a language. Consider this: the top 100 words make up about 50 percent of English language texts, and the top 1,000 words make up about 90 percent! By focusing on learning these words first, you can eliminate wasted time and increase the amount of information you understand very quickly.
4.3 Study smart
When learning words, you can learn faster by using the very best study techniques. For example, one of the best ways to learn vocabulary words is to use flashcards. Flashcards can help you focus on individual words and allow you to test yourself, which helps memorize new information.
When you learn with flashcards, you can follow these tips to learn fast:
- Try out electronic flashcards. Paper flashcards work well, but electronic flashcard programs, such as Anki, provide some great benefits. By using electronic flashcards, you can easily large stacks on your smartphone or tablet, and you can take advantage of flashcards that other people have created and made public. These programs also automatically change the order of cards and use spaced repetition to gradually increase the amount of time between repetitions of a flashcard. Both of these techniques help you learn faster and better.
- Make sure to guess the meaning of a word before turning over the card. Flashcards work best when you use them to test your memory, so don’t be too quick to flip the cards over. Even if you don’t know a word, you can take a guess.
- Learn the translations first, then learn to produce the new words. It’s easier to learn the translation of a foreign word than it is to learn to say the foreign word when you see its English equivalent. Start by looking at the side of the flashcard with a foreign word on it, and memorize what the English translation is. Later, turn the cards over and use them to practice producing the foreign words when you see their English equivalents.
Some more great strategies for integrating new words alongside and beyond flashcards include:
- Visualize and vocalize. Visualize the word you’re learning, imagine the image of what it represents and say the new word aloud. This helps you connect the concepts and can improve memorization.
- Gesture. The brain learns better when you use physical actions while learning. Take advantage of this by gesturing. If you want to learn the Persian word کفش (shoe), say the word while you pretend to put on a shoe.
- Use the word in your native language. When you’re learning a new language, it can be hard to practice words in context because you haven’t yet mastered enough vocabulary to make complex sentences. To get around this, simply use the word in your native language. For example, if you’re learning the Arabic word بیت (house), you could say, “I’m going to go to my بیت now.”
- Keyword technique. Make up a sentence with the new word you’re learning, the meaning of the word and a word in your native language that sounds similar. For example, if you want to learn the Spanish word mesa (table), you could think of an English word that sounds similar and make up a sentence like, “My kitchen table is always a mess!” Since “mess” and mesa are very similar, this can help you remember the new word.
4.4 Start using the language all day, every day
As a beginner, it can seem overwhelming to try to use the language all day, but it’s not as difficult as it seems. There are many easy and exciting ways to make the language a part of your regular life. First, make use of every moment you have to learn new words. Take flashcards with you, and study them during your train or bus commute (but not while driving, please!) or when you’re waiting to meet a friend. When you start to feel tired, switch from active learning to passive learning by doing what you would normally do in your native language, but this time in your target language. Try watching a video or TV show, or streaming radio broadcasts in your target language. There are many online resources you can use to access entertaining audio and video clips. You can search for radio stations and discover more native language content using the internet.
It is important not to neglect your listening skills, because listening to your target language can have many positive effects, including:
- Becoming accustomed to the cadence of the language.
- Learning to identify and understand common words.
- Learning to understand using context and a few cognates.
- Staying motivated!
4.5 Seek out real-life practice
One of the best ways for practicing in the learning language process occurs in real-life situations, particularly when you have no choice but to use a foreign language. Travel or study abroad is the easiest way to gain real-life practice. Travelling abroad creates opportunities to be surrounded by people who speak the language you want to learn, many of whom don’t know your native language. Although such situations can be uncomfortable, they provide enormous motivation to learn quickly. However, even without traveling abroad, you can immerse yourself in real-life situations that give you loads of language practice. Try these options:
- Meet with a language partner weekly or biweekly.
- Join a conversation club or a language class. Our language classes are like a real-life situation with a native speaker teacher, so they are recommended.
- Use an online tutoring or language partner site.
- Visit businesses where people speak primarily your target language. For example, if there is an Arabic restaurant nearby where you can enjoy delicious food and practice your Arabic with the waiters or owners, or perhaps you can practice your Arabic at a grocery store that sells food to the local Arabic community.
4.6 Learn about the culture
Learning about the culture and history associated with the language that you are learning is crucial. Learning a language is more than just understanding words on a page. If you want to gain a deep understanding of the language and culture, it is necessary to know something about the country or culture’s history, current events, religious beliefs and common customs. According to the research children learn to read in another language better when they know the culture and context behind the piece they read. As you begin to study a second language, take some time to learn about the culture of the people who speak that language. Don’t feel this is a waste of time, even if it involves reading and watching videos in your native language. It will help you enormously and can even prevent you from making embarrassing and potentially offensive mistakes.
4.7 Test yourself
Taking short tests may help you to motivate yourself to learn faster. If you’re learning from a textbook, take practice tests or complete the exercises at the end of each chapter. We have some online quizzes after each lesson on our website (www.darulquran.co.uk) that students can take before they move onto the next lesson. Without completing the short quiz, you cannot move onto the next lesson. You can also play online games or take tests that are available online. It is also beneficial to take a standardized test several months to a year after you begin learning a new language. The results can help you demonstrate your language proficiency to potential employers, schools or even yourself.
4.8 Have fun!
We tend to learn best when we’re enjoying ourselves, so don’t forget to make language learning an enjoyable experience. Playing games is an excellent way to have fun while learning. Games tap into our natural competitiveness and can help us practice language skills even when we are tired.
Additionally, you can also tailor your learning to focus on things that interest you, such as a favorite hobby. For instance, if you like to sew, for example, you can study words in your target language related to sewing, watch instructional sewing videos and engage in conversation with tailors who speak your target language. If you’re learning French and have a passion for French politics, learn words used to describe political processes, and immerse yourself in articles about political issues, videos of political debates and talk-shows about current events.
Finally, make friends who speak your target language or are interested in learning it. Languages aren’t meant to be learned in isolation! Real-life social events and conversations are what make language learning fun and worthwhile. Make a point of talking to people and learn more about their lives and cultures. You might be surprised at how eager they are to share information with you, and how quickly you will make lasting friendships in the process.
In conclusion, a person’s second language, or L2, is a language that is not the native language (first language or L1) of the speaker, but is acquired later in life. The second language could be a neighboring language, another language of the speaker’s home country, or a foreign language. Engaging your brain in the process of learning new skills, enhances its overall function. Learning a new language challenges your brain to grasp unfamiliar grammar and vocabulary rules, allowing you to train your memory to retain new words, establish connections between them, and apply them in various contexts.
Learning languages can be as enjoyable as you make it, and the more creative you are in your approach, the more fulfilling your experience will be. Since language learning enhances your creativity, the more you learn a language, it will enable you to generate innovative ideas for language learning.
Immersive language learning processes has shown positive effects on functions like attention and mental alertness. Research indicates that bilingual individuals often display more empathy and a more global perspective. According to the research, bilingual students concentrate better, ignoring distractions more effectively than those who only speak one language. Because the language centers in the brain are so flexible, learning a second language can simulate the development of new cognitive areas and strengthen your brain’s inherent ability to focus. Therefore, do not hesitate to embark on a journey to learn a new language.