Learn a New Language Badge




The Face of the Shrub

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: You share jokes with your friends across a crowded room, or you can carry on a conversation with your hearing-impaired friends because you learned ASL. You plan to spend the weekend cozied up to the fire with a copy of Collette – in French. When you stumble across a mobile fiesta with a taqueria, and you can flirt with the revelers as you munch on the burritos and tacos you ordered -in Spanish. Your boss relies on you to help smooth things when an upset Asian tries to explain his problem, and you can translate his Vietnamese flawlessly.

Step Two: Knowing another language empowers you. You are in control of the situation, know what’s going on, and can have fun or fix problems because you learned that language others about you are speaking. Even if you don’t travel yourself, you may encounter a traveler from another country – or maybe a new friend is a recent immigrant and doesn’t know American English very well yet. If you know another language, yo can read favorite stories in their original language, and when you encounter foreign phrases, you can impress friends with your ability to translate. Learning another language also has hidden benefits – you learn new ways to express yourself and discover new concepts that broaden your understanding of your world.

Step Three: You don’t have to be flawless in the grammar and vocabulary. A calm voice, basic grammar, small vocabulary, and body language will get you much further than you expect – plus it will make native speakers more willing to increase your language skills. With that in mind, pick the language you want to learn. Do you have a neighbor who’s native language is not American English? Do you eat a lot in a Burmese restaurant, or follow Brazilian soccer, or want to know what they’re saying in those interesting Mexican soap operas? Do you have a deaf friend who signs? Let those interests help you decide what language to learn.

Step Four: Nothing beats having a native speaker help guide you along your studies to learn a new language. Even if you take a class, a friend or co-worker who already speaks the language will be a big help. There are on-line courses you can take, excellent DVD-and-book courses, and classes at local colleges and vo-techs to help you learn your new language.

If you choose to take private lessons, do your homewaork on the teacher. Are they affiliated with a school or a language institution? What method do they use to teach? Can they articulate where you should be in your language acquisition by the end of the course? How many courses shuold you take to be considered proficient? Check out the textbook, does it look as if it will speed you on your way to ordering dim sum or holding a pleasant conversation with your friends? Or is it more academic or technical oriented?

Step Five: Get the most for your money out of the class. Speak up in class. If you find ways to remain silent, you’ll never get the instruction and experience you need. You want to speak the language. right? So speak! Use tapes/DVDs of the language to master your pronunciation. Some online services have interactive speechware, and that’s really helpful. Use flashcards and books, too, so you learn to read as well as speak the language. Study with a buddy – either someone from your class or a friend who already speaks the language.

Step Six: Immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. When you say it in English, try to also say it in the language you’re learning. Practice out loud and often. Rent DVDs in that language, and listen to music in it. Visit websites in that language and decipher as much as you can. Join chat rooms where that language is spoken and join in. Victory is making yourself understood, progress is getting a bit better than yesterday.

Step Seven: Make a date with a friend or acquaintance who speaks hte language and plan to speak their language only. Visit an art gallery, museum, or have coffee or go to dinner. Dine at a restaurnat of the ethnicity of your language and order your meal yourself – in that language!

Step Eight: Claim your badge!

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