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Learning a Second Language

Updated: Jul 19, 2020

Many of the ideas found in this resource are inspired by the book "Bilingual by choice. Raising kids in two (or more) Languages" by Virginie Raguenaud published in October 2009.

Never underestimate your capacity to learn.

Nowadays, learning a second language is more than just being an important requirement to get better opportunities in this interconnected world. When you learn a second language you start giving shape to your mind.

By Learning a second language you will be opening a door to a new world full of information, culture, relationships, backgrounds, history, social and emotional skills and much more. When you decide to learn a second language you will experience a good number of benefits such as:

- Increase in your ability to focus on activities and task on a daily basis.

- You will retain more information easily which means your memory will improve.

- You will develop a sense of respect, awareness and understanding towards other people's culture.

- You will have the opportunity to get to see and meet new people and places. This will certainly influence or change the perspective and view you have about life and other people.

- Your analytical and problem solving skills will lead you to make better choices since you will be more reasonable contrasting and comparing the information you receive.

Why if Learning a second Language is beneficial to me do I not make an effort to learn or to continue learning the language I have been working towards acquiring?

Let's start by saying that every person is different as are their goals in life. This is true when we talk about learning a second language. Everybody has a different proficiency language levels with different education backgrounds. Everybody has their own way to learn, retain, create and perceive knowledge. There are a number of factors that can influence the learning of a Second Language.

- Motivation: If you don't feel that passion about that new language you are acquiring it would be difficult for you to obtain the goal of truly learning it.

- Self-esteem: Learning comes from mistakes and repetition. You need to believe in yourself and to not be afraid of making mistakes in front of people when you are learning a Second Language. Stop worrying about other people's opinions as they are probably as scared as you are. Having good Self-Respect, Self-Worth and Self-Love will encourage you to face more challenges and to focus on yourself and not what you think others think of you.

- Previous Knowledge: When you have a good education in your Native Language you will have better possibilities to progress with the 2L easily, but what you already know will help you to build upon your next learning path. Even if the knowledge you have is not enough to start, it's definitely a big help. Focus on your previous knowledge gaps, work on those and keep building with what you have.

- Relationship with your mentor: Build a good relationship with your tutor, teacher or person you are getting learning from. This will develop and increase positive results in the social and academic areas.

- Lesson Context: Identify the theories, facts, strategies, activities and the principles you are going to use in order for you to clearly understand that language. Focus on your own individual needs and interests if you want to be successful.

Now that you know some of the things that can be stopping you from learning or beginning to learn a Second Language, I would like to share five tips with you in order for you to start learning and seeing results.

1. Don't try to compare and accelerate your language development:

Do not put a time frame on yourself and later feel frustrated because you didn't learn at the level you wanted to. Let your language development happen naturally and at your own pace. Focus on your goals, interests and needs.

2. Learn from other people:

Don't close your mind thinking that you are the only one right about everything. Give yourself an opportunity to learn from others (Every person is unique and everyone's knowledge should be seen as a great opportunity to grow). The most important thing here is not if you agree or disagree, but to listen, understand and see what you can learn from them.

3. Set clear goals according to your interests and needs:

When you want to learn a new recipe one of the first things you do is think about the kind of food you would like to try according to what you already like. You will probably see how much time you have to prepare it, what kind of information you need to research and the ingredients you will need to start. This process is similar to the one we use to learn English, Spanish, Mandarin, French or any other language. You start by thinking of what would be the best language to learn according to your needs, the demands of the workplace, your career or your interests. Then you will establish a time goal of six months, one year, two or however long it takes in other for you to get to the language level you would like to be at. Finally, you will start researching for information and looking for a language school, an online tutor, books, videos or a conversational club to start your learning journey.

4. Learning Environment:

A good environment not only means to have a clean space but also a place that makes you feel peaceful and inspires you to learn while staying motivated. So, choose a cozy spot in your house and make it as comfortable as possible for you. This spot should have natural or good artificial light, your favorite drink or snacks, books and a comfortable chair to promote a positive learning environment.

5. Your Emotional State is Important:

Remember that our emotions can create, organize or disorganize our reality. 😀 😑 😡 So, stay positive and motivated and you will begin to see results in every single word, phrase or sound you learn from that language.

As humans we are curious about learning and acquiring new skills, we never stop learning. It is a wonderful process of growing your mindset. So keep learning and exploring, I promise it will be worth it.

Do you know any other tips about learning a Second Language? Let me know your thoughts by commenting below.

Luz McClendon - Online Spanish and English Teacher


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