1. Bob your head
Ever wonder why you can’t get a song out of your head? You’re just minding your own business eating a burrito, making a smoothie, washing some dishes, avoiding eye contact with a creeper on the street, you know just living your life. Then BAM a song pops into your head! You start to hum the melody to *Snoop doggy DOOOOG* or *Making my way downtown..walking fast, faces pass*. A minute goes by and your hairbrush becomes the mic and you effortlessly serenade your crowd of shampoo bottles, you become the hottest mc on cherry street. Suddenly you realize, how do I know that song? I only heard it once on the radio or on that one movie White Chicks. Sorcery! Nope, not at all! This article explains the science mumbo jumbo behind it all. But look, you’re probably trying to figure where I’m getting at here.
Bob your head! That’s it! Ok, now stop because you probably look crazy.
What I mean is, listen to music! Immerse yourself in the style of the songs you want to learn! Maybe even dance a little!
Start with the translation of a song you already know! If you go to church, look for the translation of a song they sing every Sunday and learn it! If not, try and find a translation of a song you already love. Perhaps Taylor Swift, Adele, Bieber? I don’t know your musical taste but best believe you’ll find something surfing the web.
Start to branch out into different genres and ask your friends (who speak the language you’re trying to learn) what Artists’ they recommend. Not only will you start learning more vocabulary but you’ll hear the rhythm of how words naturally flow together and are pronounced! Comment below on some of your favorite Artists. As a Spanish language learner, I personally love listening to Nicky Jam, Farruko, Selena and a little Celia Cruz amongst many.
2. Netflix and Chill
Yup it’s exactly what you think…wait not that. Hey! Get your mind out of the gutter! ACTUALLY watch some Netflix and relax. Grab some popcorn and watch your favorite movie or show..in your target language of course! Believe me, “The Emperor’s New Groove” is sooo much better in Spanish! Similarly to what you did with music, ask around on a friend’s favorite show. One of the most important things about learning a language is training your ear and hearing how people speak in real life situations. Go ahead and put those training wheels on and use subtitles. Make sure you’re paying attention to a common phrase and try repeating it. Once you’re ready, take those training wheels off and see how much of it you understand. It’s ok if you don’t understand every single word, as long as you get the “gist” of what’s going on. Just chill.
3. Open your mouth
Open your mouth, Actually talk to people! Okay, okay I know it’s scary and I’m as introverted as they come. Think about it this way, what is language for? Communication! In order to learn the language, to grow, to gain proficiency, you need to talk! You might be building up this monster of a fear in your mind. What will I say? What if I forget how to properly conjugate a verb! What if they laugh at my horrible attempt at ordering food! What if, What if, What if. In actuality, no one cares. Keep that in mind and you’ll go far.
Communication is about getting an idea across, correct? Think about it this way, we’ve all encountered someone in which english was not their first language. They might not have always used the right words, properly conjugated but you still understand what they were trying to say, right? Unless you’re a horrible person, I can almost guarantee that you didn’t laugh at them or think less of them for trying talk to you. In fact, you might have even given it a second thought. The most you probably did was politely corrected them when responding to clarify on what they were trying to communicate. Which brings me to my next point!
4. Go back to Pre-K
Kids, gotta love em. Some will talk your ear off with only a handful of words. As they get older they start to express different ideas with the few words they know. Most people understand that when you don’t have a lot to work with you must be creative. Your 2 year old nephew might come up to you and say “Juice!” And you quickly tell them to say “please” because those aren’t good manners. You understand exactly what they meant and you don’t make fun of them for trying. You encourage them and help them along the way. A lot of times we’re harder on ourselves then we are on other people, especially kids. Imagine saying what you say to yourself to a little kid. “Why can’t you remember these conjugation charts! Are you stupid?” Their dreams would be crushed! Go a little easier on yourself think like a kid. What? Yes, think like a kid. In a kid’s mind everything is a lot simpler. Kids fearlessly try new things, speak up and tell you exactly what they want to say.
“Having a child like fearlessness is crucial to your success.”
If you know absolutely nothing, go back to Pre-K! In Pre-K, what did you know? Sit down, be quiet, stop, listen, I’m hungry, I want water, please, thank you. The basics, right? You sung songs, listened to stories, maybe watched cartoons etc. Keep it simple with a child like fearlessness. How do we eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Learning a language is the elephant and you must break it down one bite at at a time starting with the basics. Learning your target language will start to get easier once you change your mindset. Communicate like a preschooler and work your way up. The goal is communication.
5. Share the love
“One of the best ways to reinforce something into your memory and solidify your understanding of something is to teach it.”
I’ve been playing the drums for over 12 years and when I had to teach someone a simple 4/4 pattern for the first time it was daunting. I’d say, “oh just do this, poom kat poompoom kat”. The student would stare blankly at what once was a drum set, now as a complicated rubix cube with 12 squares on each side. From that point on I learned first hand
that everyone learns differently. Sometimes you have to explain it in 4 different ways before someone to begin to understand an idea. You know what? It helped me teach myself challenging concepts breaking down exactly what I’m doing and pinpoint what is making me trip up. It helped me “jump start” my learning process. In the same way, teach someone the basics of a language. Personally, I teach my 5 year old niece just the basics of Spanish. Low pressure, no judgement and it forces you to explain concepts in it’s simplest form. I remember random words like Pajaro or Pingüino only because I taught my niece and tried to help her remember it through song, stories or randomly using it when I see an animal. Share the love, share the knowledge and not only will your new pupil learn a lot, but so will you.
Got any other tips to jumpstarting your language learning journey? Comment below! Any other tips? Let us know and share what has helped you on your journey!
See you on the next post! 🙂