Best Ways to Learn Foreign Languages

by N. Asel

     A foreign language is not a language that makes you forget your own language, but rather a foreign language can develop your thinking.  The one question all language learners have is "How can we improve our level?"  What would the world be like without any foreign languages or without language?  Maybe there could be body languages between people.  But many years ago it  was said that "the more the world was developed the more the communication was developed and through this communication languages came into being." We inevitably have to learn foreign languages because it is necessary in the era that we are living in.  Language is the most important and the biggest tool of communication.  We can't imagine our future life without foreign languages, because nowadays in order to have a good job with a high salary and to work successfully, you have to know at least one foreign language, and the most important language is the English language.  It's usually difficult to get a job or even to read the instructions that come with cosmetics without the English language.  Now so many things are written in English and connected with the English language.  We, the youth, have known that foreign language play an important role for our future and we are starting to study foreign languages. Today's youth's ideal is to learn foreign languages, and a main goal is to travel around the world using these languages.  No the education system is changing.  A few years ago only 5th through 10th graders could have English classes, but now children from five years old through 11th grade have English classes. Everyone wants to learn English and to have English classes. Everyone wants to learn English quickly and looks for the way to learn it.

            Your decision to learn English or other foreign languages is the most important step in feeling the language, in learning what kind of ways are good to learn languages, and in preparing your mind for learning.  One of the most important things that one must be able to do while learning a foreign language is to be able to read and write.  Even though you can't speak a foreign language very well, you should be able to read very well. If you can read fluently, it can influence your learning of the language. So, you must often read any kinds of books which are on your level.  If you don't have any experience or interest to read a book, you can read a book in your own language and then start to read.  Acquiring the foreign language is very different from just learning about it.  The best way to acquire the language is to listen and to speak with people and communicate with people who speak fluently.  If you want to learn or acquire the other languages very quickly, you should leave your own language just temporarily and then speak or use your new words every day.  Actually it's useful to listen three or four hours per day.  Some people read every book that they can find and try to memorize some useful words.  This practice is not more useful than listening and speaking using new words, because if you don't use your new words you will forget them.  

            There are five other ways to acquire foreign languages besides reading and listening. 

1. You must be very patient.  To learn another language and to speak it will is not an easy thing.   Every language has its own difficulties.  For instance, the Kazakh and Mongolian languages are very similar, but they have some small differences.  Kazakh language has 42 letters and Mongolian 35 letters.  Also, Kazakh pronunciation is a little harder than Mongolian.  So you must not think that all languages are the same and  that it's easy to learn them.  When you just start to learn, it could be very interesting, but as time goes on it becomes difficult.  Also, you have to memorize many words, and have to learn the different grammar points. That's why you must be patient. Don't learn too fast, if you want your learning to stay.  

2. As noted earlier, speaking can help you to learn.  Learners should communicate with many people who are foreigners.  A good way to become fluent is by living in a country where the language is spoken.  It would be a chance to communicate with people.  If you can't go to live to those foreign countries, a good way to learn is to communicate with your friend in this language every day.

3.  Another way to learn another language is to watch a movie, listen to a tape, and to read books, newspapers, and magazines in this language, but the things must be on your level.  First it will be difficult to understand the movie by listening, but people can understand by watching the acts or events and then can remember the words.   Teachers say, "If you want to learn, first you must feel it."  It means if people see the picture or events, they can remember very well.

4. Don't be embarrassed that you can't speak and don't be afraid of making a mistake.  The biggest obstacle to learning is to be embarrassed or afraid of making a mistake.  If you are usually afraid or embarrassed to talk with people, you can't improve your speaking skill, because if you usually try to speak very correctly, you'll think too long.  My friend’s experience is an example.  She was a good student, but she never talked with her friends in the languages that she was learning because she was too embarrassed and afraid of making a mistake.  So when she became a teacher, it was too difficult to teach in front of the unknown students.  Therefore, follow the examples of your good teachers, and don't be like that. In fact, speak quickly, try to remember your mistakes, and try to fix them because people can learn quickly by their mistakes. 

5.  Don't try to translate from your own language to the foreign language, while speaking, and try not to use a dictionary.  The best way to be able to memorize new words quickly and remember them again is to guess new words from the context.  If you guess the meaning of the word, you will remember it. Also, if you usually try to translate it in your mind while speaking, it won't work to improve your speaking skill.  Use your new words in your sentences, and try to speak without thinking a lot about the translation. If you really don't understand the meaning of the word, use a dictionary and memorize the word. Then use it in a sentence. Real objects, feeling the words by matching them again and again,  and using the words in your sentences are the most important ways to learn the foreign language.

            If you want to speak more than one foreign language, you must very carefully consider things.  “If you usually research the ways to learn it quickly, you can find it slowly,” people say.   If you try to use those ways, as time goes on, you may be able to speak fluently and you will aspire to learn more foreign languages, if you want.   In order to become fluent, you have to practice with all these ways and never quit. Good Luck!

N. Asel is a 2006 graduate of the Hovd State University with a degree in English teaching and translation.  She teaches in her home aimag of Bayan-ulgii.