Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tips on Learning Foreign Languages

As with many things in life, children seem to learn things much quicker, especially when learning how to speak a different language. However, all hope is not lost for those of us who are determined to be multilingual. The most important ingredients are perserverence, determination and discipline! Oh, and do not ever be afraid of making mistakes. After all, who has ever learned to walk without ever falling?

I'd say what helped me most with my Spanish is just reading the papers, books, watching TV, and actually speaking with others! My case is a bit different, because I spoke fluent Spanish when I was a young child, but almost lost it completely when I moved to New York as an adolescent. These days, I speak a lot of Spanish at home and at work. I force myself and those around me to speak to me in Spanish most of time, and this has certainly helped me a lot.

If you're interested in learning how to speak Español, just go for it! Pick up a language book, if you don't have time to attend a class, and surround yourself with all things Spanish! If possible, I highly recommend you to consider the option of studying abroad as well. Spanish Language Source is a good place to start your research. I studied abroad when I was a college student and it was one of the best experiences I ever had.

I must admit I didn't discover my passion for languages until I moved back to Puerto Rico. It's funny how certain things in life just make you realize how we're capable of doing so much more. For the past seven months or so, I've also been learning how to speak Dutch and I'm absolutely loving it!

So, if you'd like to learn a foreign language, here are some of my tips for you:

1) Dedication & Discipline: try to spend at least 30 minutes to an hour everyday studying. Pick up a good language book and just do the exercises!

2) Read, Listen & Talk: personally, I like watching the news in foreign languages. Here are some of my favorites: CNN en Español, El Nuevo Día (Puerto Rican Newspaper), RTL Nieuws (Dutch), Hart Van Nederland (Dutch).

Podcasts are also a wonderful learning tool. Laura Speaks Dutch is simply fantastic!

3) Help from Native Speakers: soliciting the help of a native speaker does wonders! I am fortunate enough to have both native Spanish and Dutch-speaking people help me with both languages respectively. I have never tried this, but I've noticed that language exchange communities, such as Live Mocha, are quite popular these days. So, why not give it a try?

4) Last but not least, practice, repeat, practice, repeat!

Oh, and don't forget to just have fun!


Master said...

Hi ,

I could not reach you by email but wonder if you can help on the following : my wife and I intend to spend Xsmas in San Juan (from the 24th till the 28th).Is it worth it ?We re quite afraid everything might be closed and then force to stay in our hotel for four days :s
Thanks for your return

adriana said...

Hello Master,

Xmas is a wonderful time to come visit Puerto Rico. The weather should be absolutely wonderful during that time. It won't be too hot or humid. However, most museums and parks will most likely be closed on Xmas Day. On the other hand, most beaches will be open!