Day 19 - September 5
Today I started learning French for the first time in my life. I decided to do it for a combination of reasons (from it being free for students to the specifics of my research and the communities I'm working with), but what's done is done - I've signed up, survived the first lesson and now am successfully postponing a lovely date I have with my homework.
Honestly - I'm not that good at learning languages (I will explain why later). But I'm way to curious ( and talkative) for not learning the languages if I have an opportunity. During my EVS time I got face to face with Italian and had to conquer it to survive in Palermo (I'm not exaggerating - it's extremely hard to live here without speaking Italian). This experience not only gave me a new language skills (even thought in my opinion I'm still very far away from being fluent), but also brought a few insights about how I learn best and what I need to do to be able to speak a new language at least a bit.
So I want to share them, because they might work for someone else too.
1. Understand your learning style
For me this was the key to everything. And I realized it only when I came to Italy and learned about YouthPass! Which is actually very funny, because when you an EVS you hear about YouthPass a lot, but never think about it as something useful for you. But one of the competences of YouthPass is Leaning to Learn. It took me some time to fully understand what it means, but when I did, my life actually changed. I realized that the fact that everyone abound me seems to learn Italian just by hearing people speak it doesn't mean that I also can do it. In fact, I'm a visual person, I don't learn by listening. To understand and remember a word I need to write it down. And it's okay. Because when I do it, I really save it in my memory and can start using it. Some people need to repeat new words or phrases to remember them, some need to create a sentence with them. Some don't need anything, just hearing it once.
Understand what works for you - it will honestly change your life.
2. Use additional materials
I don't mean text books. I'm speaking about all the cool interesting things - movies, tv-shows, youtube videos, even children books. I actually used to read books about Geronimo Stilton in Italian to learn new words - and I'm not ashamed of it! That's how me and most of my friends learned English after all.
3. Ask for help
Don't be afraid to ask for help is you're having some difficulties with pronunciation or grammar constructs. Find someone who you can trust to explain things to use and the learning process will go much faster.
4. Work every day
You don't have to do a half of a text book every day. Try to learn one word a day, or read one article, if your level already perits it. I used to watch one Italian lecture from youtube every day - they are very short and very useful.
5. Don't give up
We've all been there, trust me. You can't remember something very easy, when you need it the most. Someone laughs at your mistake. You spend three days reading 5 pages of an article and afterwards have 10 pages of vocabulary you had to check to understand what was written (the story of my life now). It's so easy to give up at this moment! But honestly - you don't have failures only if you don't do anything. Remember why you decided to start this in the first place, remember all the opportunities it will give you in the future and continue the good work.
All this things certainly helped me with learning Italian and, I hope, will help me also with French. I will keep you posted on the progress!