How to Master a Second Language

From cultural motivations and economic factors, to wanting to flirt in a foreign tongue, learning a second language comes with countless benefits. Follow these steps and you should be able to steep yourself on to the right path for mastering your target language, be it Spanish, French, English, Russian or even Urdu.

 Master a Second Language

Steps 1:

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  1. Listen to the radio. Listening to a radio show or even music broadcast in the respective language is a fantastic way of tuning your ears in to the language’s phonetics. Many radio apps can be downloaded from app stores or the internet on multiple devices and many are free of charge, meaning you have access to a host of genres and channels to suit your interests.
    • Whether you’re taking the tube home from work, or doing some gardening, hearing conversations in the target language is one of the best things you can do to accustom yourself to the subtleties, colloquialisms and rhythms.
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    Steps 2:

    Phone a friend. Having a friend who is like-minded in your motivation to master a foreign language can be a great opportunity to improve both yours and his/her’s grasp. To begin with, an hours worth of conversation a day, slowly increased to two hours, then three hours and so forth; this will gradually accustom your brain to switching into the foreign language and getting your head around its grammar, vocabulary and sounds. Better still, if you have a family member or friend who can fluently speak your respective language, take advantage of this!

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    Steps 3:

    Read, read, read. Picking up a weekly edition of a newspaper or magazine in the target language – ‘Le Monde’, ‘Correre dell serra’ or ‘Deutsche Zeitungen’, for example – is one of the best methods for picking up new vocabulary and reinforcing your grasp of already-learnt vocabulary. As well as increasing your feel of the structure of the language and the use of different lexis, it will provide you with a culturally interesting experience by reading around the current affairs of the country; something which is an intergral part of foreign language learning

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    Steps 4:

    Think. Pensez. Denken. No matter how many differences in the methods people to choose to becoming fluent in their target language, the opinion is almost universal that when you feel like you are ‘thinking’ in the language, this is a definitive mark of success. This one can be vouched for with French. Making a significant effort to ‘say’ things in your head throughout the day in the target language is a brilliant way of getting cognitively used to articulating your thoughts in the language. If you are at a beginner-intermediate level, try thinking of the equivalent for each thought, desire or opinion you have in the foreign language; this will prepare you for complete mastery.

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    Steps 5:

    Watch a film. Arguably one of the best activities that are open to you when learning a new language, watching a film in the target language (with or without subtitles, depending on your ability) can help your vocabulary grasp to develop and help you to understand conversational conventions in the respective language. Take note of words or phrases which you do not know the meaning of, then learn them afterwards. TV series are also a great way of doing this, especially if they appeal to your sense of humour (assuming you have one!)

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    Steps 6:

    Write it down. Keep a diary in the foreign language and add in entries every day (with a foreign dictionary), roughly a page long so as to improve your written skills in the language. Alternatively, you could arrange to converse via email or letters to a pen-pal/family friend who speaks the language, which is one of the most agreed upon methods of mastering the foreign tongue.