helloSince I was younger, I have been trying to learn new languages. I’m a native Spanish speaker and of course, my first try was English. I have to say that it was hard although I studied a lot, repeating things in my mind, listening to music or watching films with no subtitles. However I always felt that I was missing the magic touch for it. That some people have that gift and I wasn’t one of them. Nevertheless, I liked learning a lot and at that moment I thought it would be useful someday, even just for asking for a cheeseburger.

The first time I went to the USA I was shocked because I couldn’t speak English. I could barely get words out of my mouth. I went back home thinking that all my English-learning was a waste of time. Then I decided to try again, and I realized that I did understand and I could talk, but I was ashamed or too shy to try. So after a long process of getting rid of those fears I decided to talk, no matter how I sounded. I made up words when I didn’t know the right one, used my hands, made sounds, used examples. When I got fear out of my system then I started to communicate with other people. Let’s say I started really learning English.

1. Speak without fear 

After that I moved to France and something similar happened there. The only difference at that time, was that I wasn’t afraid to try to talk anymore. However, I noticed something different: I was better prepared and I wasn’t afraid to talk, but a lot of people didn’t understand a word of what I was saying and many could clearly understand me. With the time I realized that people who are willing to understand you will always try regardless of your accent, your mistakes or their lack of time. So, my first tip would be just talk, don’t be afraid to be wrong or make a fool of your self.

hamburger2. Go with the flow

People appreciate it when you don’t break up the flow of the conversation. Am I saying that you can’t talk because you speak slower than others? No, I’m saying to try not to ask questions such as “how do you say…”, just talk. I know that sometimes you really need to, but if possible try to avoid it. Your brain is amazing and you can build bridges to fill that vacuum.

 

3. Read out loud

If you feel that you are still not ready to go into the unknown, there is a small exercise that I used to do. Prepare some text in the language you are learning and read it out loud. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand half of what you are reading. The idea is to exercise your mouth. I guess you have heard that talking is an exercise, well, it is true. Depending on the language you want to learn you need to use different muscles of your vocal apparatus and there is a high probability that there are some of them that you have never used before. That’s why there are some sounds that we feel are impossible to repeat like the french /r/. Doing this exercise will help you discover those muscles.

These are my simple findings after trying to learn 5 languages and only learn 2 finally. If you ever have the possibility, just go to another country and learn the language you want.

Andres
Andrés Cifuentes

 

I’m a front-end developer with 4 years of experience. I work at OnTheGoSystems as a WPML supporter in French, Spanish and English. I’m really passionate about WordPress and good practices. I’m also a new technologies lover and I’m always looking for finding new and better solutions for improving user experience. I adore traveling and learning new languages, new challenge: Learning Portuguese!