Roughly 150,000 years ago, we started using language to communicate. However, all the linguistic evidence dates back to around 6,000 years ago, when writing first began. Every civilisation after that had its language and linguistic identity.
We also have our own language to communicate. Then why do we need to learn a new one?
As Nelson Mandela once said, "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."
Apart from having a heart-to-heart with your foreign friends, learning a new language can be beneficial on many levels, both personally and professionally.
For instance, most people in non-English speaking countries tend to learn English as their second language because it unlocks endless possibilities and access to the dominant western world.
On the other hand, if you are an enthusiast like me who is always intrigued by other cultures and people, learning the native language of that culture could be nothing less than a blessing for you.
As a history student, I was always curious about Spain and its people. I came to know about sixteenth-century Spain, which was the current equivalent of the USA in terms of dominating the world, and it made me think about the decline of Spain over time.
I wanted to learn more about Spanish culture and its history. So, I started learning Spanish and it took me only three and half months to be able to read a book completely written in the language.
Here is how I managed to learn a new language in just three and a half months:
Setting up goals
Setting goals makes the learning process easy and smooth. It constantly helped me with motivation, self-confidence, and self-esteem. I was always pumped up to achieve my goals.
Installing and getting enrolled in language learning apps
Several apps teach you languages in effective and efficient ways (viz: Duolingo, Babbel, Rosetta etc). I like and recommend the Duolingo app for its simple and engaging UI (user experience) and it gives you a game-like experience.
You will never feel like anything is imposed on you. It's like you are just playing a game. Thus you do not lose your consistency. I started my language journey on the Duolingo app in Dec 2020, and to this date, I have maintained a whooping 664 days streak. The fun part is you can enrol in several language courses at the same time and continue your amazing language journey.
Joining discord servers
The most crucial part of learning a new language is practice because no matter how many hours you spend learning it, it won't be of much use if you can't speak it.
There are so many challenges and obstacles in the process of practising a new language. Like, when I started learning Spanish I couldn't find a single person among my friends and family who speaks it.
But I didn't need to worry more; Discord servers came to my rescue. There are various discord servers regarding language learning. I joined one of the largest ones called 'The language Sloth'.
This is a free server which offers many language courses and has several options for practising. You can even chat and speak with native speakers of that respective language at any time.
Watching movies and Tv shows with subtitles
Another useful tip for mastering a new language is watching movies and shows in that respective language with subtitles on.
In my case, when I started my Spanish learning journey, I browsed through Netflix and made a list of all the popular Spanish movies and shows.
I started binge-watching Money Heist (org: La casa de Papel), Pablo Escobar, el patrón del mal, Jenni Rivera: Mariposa de Barrio, etc, with English subtitles on.
I greatly benefitted from this. On the one hand, I was fulfilling my entertainment needs. On the other hand, I was making progress with my learning. As I was watching and hearing natives speak, I could very easily learn the proper pronunciations of different words as well as the proper ways to speak.
In the next stage, you can start listening to songs and audiobooks in that respective language. Listening to podcasts can also be very beneficial. And this is how you can evaluate yourself and make sure of your progress.
Make travel plans
One of the most effective ways to put your newly learned language skills to the test is to visit some of the places where the language is used. When you travel to a new place, you interact with the local people and immerse yourself in the culture.
So, by travelling, you can test and assess your language skills informally.
Assess your progress through formal language tests
If you intend to take full advantage of learning a new language concerning the professional side of it, you need to take a language test which gives you certificates upon passing the test. For example, you may need an IELTS band score to get a scholarship or you need proficiency in the Chinese language to serve Chinese clients.
Several language testing systems are available to give validity to your skill. The certificates you get after passing these tests add value to your resume and give you a boost in confidence over time.
Abu Saeed, is a Dhaka University final-year history student and an academic instructor at the largest ed-tech platform in Bangladesh, 10 Minute School.