4 Tips for Learning a New Language

by | Feb 8, 2021 | Aggie Life, Culture

Have you ever downloaded an app to pick up a new language but then gave up after a few weeks? It may seem like no matter how hard you try, you just cannot stick with it. Whether you are about to begin the first or 100th attempt, Claudia Helena Sanchez-Gutierrez, assistant professor of Spanish at UC Davis, has encouragement and advice for effective language-learning.

“This, for me, is the number one reason to learn a language: it becomes easier to understand each other and, in turn, develop healthy intercultural relationships. In the historical moment that we are living in, such skills seem more important than ever,” said Sanchez-Gutierrez. Below, she provides some tips for efficient and effective language learning.

1. Be excited!

Choose a language that you genuinely want to learn, Sanchez-Gutierrez advised. Be it because you would like to converse to native speakers in a foreign country or because it would help you understand foreign music, having motivation and passion to help overcome any struggles can be extremely helpful.

2. Don’t view it as homework.

“Remember, learning a language is about opening yourself to new experiences,” said Sanchez-Gutierrez. Look past the daunting grammar rules and vocabulary terms to the ultimate reward: the ability to experience new cultures and world views. Resources are everywhere, from TV shows, podcasts, and restaurants with native speakers from whom you can learn.

3. Use a variety of resources.

Even though language-learning apps are accessible tools for most people, they should not be the only resources you use. Sanchez-Gutierrez suggested that the best asset available is a teacher. “Learning a language requires consistent dedication, motivation, feedback, a sense of community, and those are things that can only be achieved through human interaction with an instructor and/or peers,” said Sanchez-Gutierrez.

4. Be patient.

Few things happen overnight, and the process of becoming bilingual is anything but speedy. Immerse yourself in the language through classes, media and native speakers — and keep at it. Think back to why you started the journey. “It will be a process, a long one, but also an exciting one, if you focus on what you are learning and not on what you don’t know yet,” said Sanchez-Gutierrez.