Learning a New Language - Four Challenges to Overcome
Aug 17, 2010 English Language Learning (ELL) 1897 Views
As I see it there are four big challenges to overcome when considering learning a language:
1. Which language to choose?
2. What is your motivation for learning a language?
3. How should you learn the language?
4. How do you make sure you are successful in learning the language or completing the course?
One of the first decisions to make is which language should you choose to learn, this decision is closely linked with the second challenge - what is your reason behind wanting to learn a language. If you just want to learn a new language to prove that you can, then it doesn't really matter what language you choose - choose one you are interested in. If, however you would like to travel, get a job in another country or work for an International Organisation e.g. the UN then you will need to be a little more careful in your choice of language. The UN has six official languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, Russian and Spanish. Spanish, with over 300 million native speakers, is the second most natively spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese (885 million first language speakers). English is the language most often learned as a second language and is used as an official language of the European Union and many Commonwealth countries, as well as in many world organizations. It is the third most natively spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. So, for greater flexibility in what you would like to do once you have learned your choice of language I would recommend one of the six official languages of the UN, in particular one of the top four: Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, English or French.
Secondly, why you want to learn a language is not so much a challenge as whether your intentions are sound and likely to help you succeed. Do you want to travel around the world - working as you go? Yes - then you can likely get by in most countries with English, as mentioned previously it has become the most commonly learnt second language around the world. If you just think it might be fun to learn a language then you might find you don't complete the course you choose as you run out of enthusiasm once it becomes a bit difficult - this can waste a lot of time and you won't boost your self-esteem any. If you think that learning a new language will make you more attractive as a partner - then it might if you go looking for love in a country where your language choice is native, as the local girls/boys may well be impressed with your efforts to learn their language. Some people choose to learn a language to prove to themselves that they can - it can be a great sense of personal achievement.
The next step to success - challenge three - is deciding how to learn the language and is largely based on time, money and your learning style. Ask yourself the following questions: Do you need to learn it fast? Do you learn better alone with a book or online, listening to CD's, watching videos or in groups at say night classes? Do you have time to invest in classes run over a couple of years or even a degree? Do you have funds to buy software, audio courses and books? Will you require support or access to teachers? Do you need a qualification in the language for your resume?
Overcoming the fourth obstacle - ensuring success with learning your language will depend largely on how well you made your decisions with the first three. If you chose the right language, for the right reasons and stay motivated to complete your chosen learning style then you should succeed in learning a new language.