WHY YOU SHOULD LEARN THE LOCAL LINGO
The best way to fully immerse yourself in a new country and culture is to learn the language of the land. Here in Medellin the language is Spanish and it makes life a lot easier if you know the basics befoe you arrive.
HOW TO LEARN A LANGUAGE, FAST.
Many of us simply don’t have the time to pick up a new language by intense studying so, here are some tips on picking up the basics in record time;
1.APPLY THE PARETO PRINCIPLE
You absolutely do not need to learn all of the words of a language to speak it. If you apply the Pareto principle to vocabulary, 20% of the effort you spend on acquiring new words can give you 80% comprehension.
I recommend using the Anki app where you can make customised flashcards based on the things you are most likely to talk about. All thats required here is a strategic approach to decide what you want to speak to people about in their native tongue and then practice, practice, practice.
2. LEARN COGNATES
“Cognates” are true friends of words from your native language that mean the same thing in another language. England’s historic attempts to colonise most of the world, means there are numerous languages that share common words with the english language, a simple Google of these shared words can tremendously boost your vocabulary.
3. USE MNEOMICS
There is nothing more frustrating than forgetting a word you’ve practiced dozen’s of times. To prevent this memory block associate the word with a memorable or funny story. This method really works, you’ll need to recall the story only a few times before the word becomes a natural part of your ability to use the language quickly.
4. HAVE S.M.A.R.T GOALS
S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. What are you aiming for? And when do you want to do this by?
5. THE BEST RESOURCES ARE FREE
There is great stuff available for free online. You do not need to pay to learn a language.
A wonderful and completely free course that keeps getting better is DuoLingo – which I highly recommend for its selection of European languages currently on offer, with more on the way.
Other (good) alternatives include:
- The Foreign Service Institutes’ varied list of courses
- The Omniglot Intro to languages
- BBC languages’ intro to almost 40 different languages
- About’s language specific posts that explain particular aspects of languages well.