How to Learn a Foreign Language

by eHow Culture & Society Editor

Having a second language affords you opportunities socially, in travel and business and deepens your understanding of another culture. There are a variety of ways to learn a second language and a great many resources for developing and maintaining your skills. Enhance your efforts to learn a second language and expand your world.

Enroll in a class. Look into Continuing Education programs, offerings by churches and community groups, college classes, language schools and private instruction. Check with your local bookstores and coffee shops to find out if they host foreign language conversation hours. If not, consider starting one.

Purchase a good dictionary that shows both English and the language you are studying. Keep a list of new words you come across in class or in conversation.

Use index cards to make flashcards with new vocabulary words. Write the word in your native language on one side and the word in the second language on the other. Use adhesive notes or small cards to label everyday items around the house.

Set aside time each day to listen to audiotapes and CDs of native speakers. These programs are available for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced conversation, and offer self-paced lessons.

Read foreign language magazines and newspapers. Many editions can be found online. Write in a journal in your new language. Rent foreign language films and turn off the sub-titles. Write or email with a pen pal who is a native speaker.

Check out intensive learning programs such as those used by the Foreign Service and corporate business. Class meets every night for two to three hours for several weeks to immerse students in the new language.

Investigate immersion programs that place you with a family in a foreign country for two weeks to three months. By having few options except to speak in your new language, your skills will improve rapidly.

Tip

  • Critical and cognitive skills improve with the study of a foreign language. Studies show that SAT and ACT scores increase for each year a student has studied a foreign language.

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