By Nikita Tomar
Learning a foreign language not only adds a skill to your resume but also makes you confident, expressive and smarter. Language is one such thing that boosts your creativity and improves your ability to think logically and solve the problems. The most interesting thing that language teaches you is how to reach for alternate words when you cannot recall the original word. Confident and positive people are much more interesting than those who are unsure of themselves. And, confidence increases when a new skill has been mastered and I believe language is no different. A multilingual person can interact with multiple communities and hence, recruiters get attracted towards such multilingual people. Also, it improves memory and attention span.
But, all these benefits would need hard work. Beginner’s luck is always there to motivate but gradually it becomes difficult for people to face the challenges and cross the hurdles. Every challenge comes with a solution, all we need to discover is the key to success and willingness to learn.
Nowadays, language is not just a medium to interact and express your views but also a medium of earning money. For that matter, language is needed to be inculcated into and that’s where a language learner needs to work.
It is said that language learning is not an uphill task, and that’s true also. But, the real obstacles arise when a person lacks curiosity. Innovation is the first and foremost step of language learning. Sometimes, lack of curiosity makes learning very difficult and it is not just applicable for languages but for every other subject. Even “3 idiots” a Rajkumar Hirani Film teaches us the same lesson. Do what makes you happy and for what you are curious about. Don’t fear learning as it limits you. There are many people who are curious to learn and are innovative as well, but the fear of loosing the game and fear of being left behind will surely prove to be a hindrance in your learning process. So, the first step of learning language is being innovative and curious. And, one should not fear learning and needs to be ready to accept the challenges.
INNOVATION, what does this word means?
Thinking out of the box?
Creating something new and different?
Yes, but what does it mean when we talk about it with reference to learning language. Innovation here means trying to learn with the help of different ways so as to understand better. Also, it means finding out alternate ways to express you views when you can’t find the original words.
For example: The person wants to say:- My parents are not allowing me for the night stay. And instead the person says:- My parents are not ready to send me for the night stay. Here, the person was unable to recall the exact word “allow” and hence, he used “ready to send” for expressing his views.
Fear or lack of self-confidence is one such hindrance that will limit the growth of a language learner. Every language learner should be extrovert, self-confident and outspoken. Many a times, the person is an introvert and feels shy of expressing his/her views because of the fear of committing mistake, which will act as a hurdle. A person should always learn from the mistakes done.
How do we learn language?
First method is to use your books and practice on and on. But, how did we learn our mother tongue? Reading and practicing through books is not the answer. We learnt our mother tongue by listening, repeating and communicating with the natives. And, here we find another challenge because of rare or no communication with the natives in the learner’s ambience. The rectification of grammatical errors would help them to grow but it seems impossible for a single native professor to correct every student.
To avoid such challenges, every learner should regularly watch movies and listen to radio in the target language. Also nowadays social media is so active that we can easily find out friends on platforms like Skype, Facebook, Twitter etc. for conversation. With a help of such natives, we can work upon our pronunciation. The slangs and colloquialism are important part and can be easily understood and we’ll develop our skills. Slangs and good pronunciation make us sound like native people.
Vocabulary is the main part of language and development in your vocab signifies development of your language skills. Without sufficient vocabulary, a student cannot understand others or express their own ideas. Developing a great vocabulary is one of the most overlooked ways to improve our lives. It is often believed that learning many words is only useful for writers and speakers, but the truth is that everyone benefits from it, both professionally and personally. Good Vocabulary often makes communication simpler and helps you to choose words with great precision.
Wilkins wrote, “While without Grammar very little will be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing could be conveyed.”
Be sure to pay attention to vocabulary as you read. Jot down the words you are not familiar with and look them up. Try to find them elsewhere and write down the sentences you find. Also try to frame sentences to memorize them.
The pressure of being successful is accelerating at a rapid pace that students are running in a race without any specific goals. So, every time we start learning we should be clear about the goals. GOALS, being such a heavy word, can be replaced by using short-term objective. We need to be clear about what we want to achieve in the coming week. Also, whenever we start a new activity, we must decide what is the objective of starting this activity, only then we can work towards our goal and achieve it. Or else, we will end up gaining nothing after running like crazies.
To measure our growth in our target language, we should set goals. For example, in one week we’ll able to introduce ourselves or communicate with the sellers in the market. Such goals motivate us to work hard and accomplishment of goals brings self-confidence in the speaking skills.
Is learning language difficult? The answer of this question varies but learning language will be difficult for those who will consider it as homework. It is as easy and fun as learning a new game and then reaching different levels of the game. Learning a language should be seen as an enjoyable process open up to a world of opportunities and reach a clear goal. Anything you enjoy doing in your mother tongue, now onwards should be done in the target language like watching movies, listening songs, reading novels, playing games and even making friends on Facebook.
People tend to listen less and write more but language learners should listen to radio so as to improve the intonation, pronunciation, vocab & grammar listening solves many problems.
I, myself being a language learner can understand the challenges and grammar being the most difficult challenges creates ambiguity, frustration and low self-confidence among students.
Many a times, we are introduced with similar types of tenses. It brings confusion in the mind of student when they are unable to differentiate between the tenses.
Also, paying attention and listening carefully to the things taught decreases the amount of ambiguity. But, there are students who attack dictionary whenever they come across a new word instead of guessing it. This behavior distracts them and they are left behind in the class. It leads to frustration, stress and at times they quit.
So, it is necessary to guess the meaning of the word from its content and later on reflecting it not understood.
The last but not the least difficult challenge arises due to cultural differences. Cultural Differences may cause confusion and cultural miss understanding. Also, learners encounter problems communicating with native speakers because of cultural differences.
I am a Spanish learner, so I can give some examples of cultural differences. In India, addressing a girl as a cow is considered as a compliment whereas in Spain, addressing a girl as a cow is equal to abusing her.
In India, drinking wine & beer is not done on a daily basis and also it is considered hazardous for health whereas in Spain, red wine & beer are consumed on daily basis like we consume tea or coffee.
Many such differences act as hindrances while communicating with the natives.
So, learning language is a beautiful and rejuvenating experience. It improves your personality and makes you self-confident. It makes you learn from your mistakes. Fear can hinder your growth so one should be extrovert, so as to know the errors and work on it. The best part about learning a new language is that you don’t need to stick to your books but explore TV series, movies, radio and novels to learn and enjoy at the same time. Comic Books in the target language also works out well. Don’t forget trying new things keep innovating, guessing and memorizing the vocabs. Making friends can also help in your language learning. Do Skype calls with your new friends (of target language) and enjoy gossiping. Keep making goals and accomplishing them. Gradually, your fun language will open tremendous opportunities for you to earn, learn and travel.
Nikita Tomar was Spanish Language and Translation Intern for the summer of 2016 at Modlingua, India's No1. certified translation service providers in New Delhi, India