How to learn a foreign language (I)

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When people realize that I can speak some foreign languages with good pronunciation, they started to ask “how?”; how I did that, and what people should do to master a foreign language.

First of all, learning language is a complex mental challenge on its own. If you don’t like learning it, you will be frustrated and won’t get satisfying result. So first, you have to like languages. That’s inevitable, at least for me. Some like certain languages and dislike the others. Some like all languages, but they have preference towards certain languages. Whatever language you choose to learn, make sure you start from the language that you like or at least need for now.

The second one is that you may learn languages by focusing on one skill at a time. But I suggest you start from listening skill. Why? Listening is a method that we use when we were babies; when we tried to grasp what adults say. In my opinion, it’s actually a natural way of learning a language. When doing this, don’t forget to try to mimic the pronunciation as closely as you can.

If you’re a Japanese or Korean, you might not be able to distinguish /l/ sound from /r/ sound. If you’re Hawaian without any prior knowledge of English, you would probably have difficulty with certain vowel sounds and consonantal sounds which exist in other languages, due to the fact that the language has very simple sounds. But don’t worry. Work hard to overcome this. Try to realize that language has a lot of sounds. Some may be able to be distinguished, and some are just plain hard. Practice a lot. If you’re learning a language not to be a linguist, slight mistakes in pronunciation is understandable.

Next, because reading materials in foreign language is inevitable, you may want to review the writing system. Learn it well. If it’s written in Roman Alphabet, it’s easy to read, but you have to develop automatisation in reading the materials. Try to get used to reading it within a normal pace.

…(to be continued)

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