Learning a foreign language has advantages beyond allowing you to order food in a restaurant when you go on holiday. According to the latest research, it also helps your brain.
Experts are now suggesting that learning a language can help to give your brain a boost and prevent it from suffering problems as you get older. The more languages that you learn, the better. But even if you just learn one extra language, you could help to protect yourself from Alzheimer’s and other conditions.
The problem for many people is how to learn another language in the first place, so here are some ideas to keep in mind.
The single best thing you can do if you want to learn a new language is to live overseas. When you live in another country, you will be able to immerse yourself in the new culture and pick up words and phrases almost without realizing it. The results are even better if you live with people who do not speak English. It can be tough at first, but you will begin to absorb the new language on a daily basis, and the longer you live overseas, the better.
Enroll on a Course
There are many language courses available in endless formats including books, CDs, DVDs and even online courses. However, often the best way to learn a new language is to enroll on a course where you can speak to other language learners on a regular basis. Just a few hours each week can make a real difference, so start with a basic course and then work your way up to more advanced levels.
Watch Videos Online
There are plenty of videos available online in every language – simply go to YouTube and check them out. You may find videos that are instructional and help you to learn your chosen language, or you may prefer to watch videos of people simply speaking in your chosen language. Use a service like http://www.youtubedownloadersite.com to download them to your computer and watch them on the go, and these will help with your listening skills. Remember to respect intellectual property with video downloads.
Buy some books for children in your chosen language and read them slowly to yourself, learning the new vocabulary as you go. When your skills improve, start reading more advanced material like magazines and longer books. You could even buy ebooks for your tablet or e-reader.
There is also plenty to read online in any language, so find some websites and bookmark them. Wikipedia is a great website because it is available in a number of languages, so you can compare an article in your chosen language to the same article in English to improve your vocabulary. Try to do a bit every day, and the more you read, the more vocabulary you will learn.
Speak to Native Language Speakers
If you live in a large city, try to find groups of people who speak your chosen language. Speaking to native speakers regularly will really give your speaking skills a boost. Alternatively, you may be able to find online communities that you can join in with. If not, try to find a language partner who wants to learn English. You could either meet them on Skype or in person, and then you can spend half the time speaking in English and half the time speaking in their language so that you both learn.
Enjoy the Benefits of Learning a Language
Learning a new language is one of the most rewarding things that you can do – and if it can help to keep your brain healthy, so much the better. Use some of the above techniques to get started, and enjoy all of the benefits that learning a new language brings.
Lisa Harold is an experienced language instructor. She enjoys blogging about effective techniques for linguistic success.