Whether because it’s cool (wow he’s so sexy he speaks French) or a necessity (with English nowadays), learning a foreign language definitely has its benefits. No I won’t be enumerating what they are as they’re pretty obvious already. But what concerns most is how does one learn a language and FAST.
There are no shortcuts in learning a language. There are techniques in learning it fast which entails time and dedication. If you don’t have these two you can get only as far as thank you, sorry, then it’s goodbye!
What I did for a long time was to immerse myself as much as I can in the language – Spanish, sí señor. The immersion started by enrolling classes at Instituto Cervantes in Manila, reading books (how I got good in English has largely to do with reading all those Sweet Valley, Archie comics, R.L. Stine and Love Stories books during my teens), started listening to Spanish music, downloading Spanish-learning podcasts and watching Spanish movies. In May 2009 when I was preparing for my DELE Intermediate exams (Diplomas en Español como Lengua Extranjera) I had to significantly sharpen my listening skills. It is known that the Spanish speak fast so I had to listen to lots of spoken audio to train my hearing. It paid off and I passed the exams. 🙂
On an enjoyable note, I’ve always looked forward to the annual Película Pelikula Spanish Film Festival in October. It was a favorite event of mine and have always gone to watch at least two to three movies showcased for that year. High school friends Pox and Rodney even came with me one year. It’s nice when you can introduce your friends to some of your interests.
When I moved to Singapore two years ago, I switched to self studying and reading online news in Spanish. My vocabulary was expanding but sadly, my speaking remained stagnant and was left to speaking simple sentences.
Of all the language skills, I find speaking the hardest. Why? Because just like with English, we have to learn all the grammatical rules before we even get to speaking it fluently. Of course when one is a toddler in Manila, one learns customary English phrases like take a bath, ride a bike, say thanks and sing nursery rhymes but once you start primary school you will be given all the grammatical exams there are in the world. And this is where speaking becomes hard being laden with all these rules.
I’ve just read an article What is the fastest way to learn a foreign language?
The article discussed the immersion technique of the Berlitz language schools where one will be exposed to daily living scenarios and use the language in carrying out that routine such as sitting down in a restaurant to order dinner. What happens is you just say out the words and interact rather than think the correct tense in your head before spitting the words out. It’s practical.
It also said that picking the right language is important in acquiring a new language fast. This is why I’ve chosen Spanish. Roughly 25% of Tagalog has Spanish words so the similarity is there. A classmate from Germany in my MBA class always mixes up cuchillo and cuchara. These cubiertos being the same with Tagalog (only with Tagalog spelling) kutsilyo and kutsara, I have no problems confusing the two.
What it breaks down into is that learning a language is a process. One must develop proper grasp of the four language skills: Reading, Speaking, Writing and Listening.
It irks me in Facebook whenever people brag in their About section that they know such and such languages when they can’t even get past the Hello How are you stage if a local would start conversing with them. Not that it’s a concern of mine haha. What concerns me though is being able to speak fluent Spanish without stumbling if a noun has to be masculine or feminine, if I’m using the correct verb tense and if I’m using the correct vocab to convey what I want to say. I would say time will be my friend here. I’ve already come to the right place. Just give it time.