4 steps to become fluent in a language
As an English girl living and working in France I often hear from my friends that I must have a “natural” intuition for languages.
I can 100% confirm that French didn’t come naturally, I wasn’t born asking in French for croissants and cheese.
Learning a language can be really hard, I have learnt this first hand from my personal experience as a language learner and as an English teacher in Cambodia, Cameroon, Martinique and France.
So how did I go from a mumbling incoherent speaker to fluency?
In the following 4 articles, I’ll be sharing the techniques I personally found the most useful.
I’ll also be adding in a few stories from my wonderful foreign friends who also wanted to share their experiences.
You’re not alone
Remember languages are not in the blood, you are never too old or too busy. It’s got nothing to do with time or money but about passion, dedication and the desire to communicate in a different language.
Having lived abroad for quite a few years now I have been lucky enough to meet some amazing linguists.
Fellow travellers yearning to communicate in different languages.
I hope these techniques help you reach your goals.
So, let’s get started!
Step 1: Online learning
The internet makes learning a new language a LOT easier. We have hundreds of sites at our fingertips.
These are the ones that I personally recommend:
Learn with Oliver: this really helped me with my Spanish. The site emails you activities everyday to keep you engaged. A good mix of activities including developing sentence structure, vocabulary, etc.
Wordreference and Linguee: not just online dictionaries! Translates and locates the words in sentences. With popular user question forums available, whatever you are wondering, you are not alone, help is at hand!
Dictations: you can practise two things at the same time, your hearing and your writing. Dictations are good once you have some bases of a language and you want to improve your speed processing it.
Verbal Planet: this site helps put native teachers in touch with eager learners. Teachers and hours are adapted to your needs.
Old school grammar books: let’s be honest, grammar books are pretty dull. Doesn’t matter how ‘good’ and well done they are, they don’t cry out to be opened but … they do serve a purpose. Mastering verb endings in various tenses will greatly help you on your way.
Real life story
Meet Chloe, who learnt French as an au-pair. She lives in Paris as a Manager in a language school and blogs in her spare time. Her advice is:
“The hardest part of learning French is the grammar given that it’s much more complicated than English grammar, especially verb conjugations.
My first approach was to study the verbs every night at home, desperately trying to memorise the different verb endings. A habit from school. Unfortunately I quickly realised that if I wasn’t practicing the verbs I wasn’t able to remember them.
I then changed my approach. I decided to learn just one verb and its endings per week. I made sure that I used the verb in a conversation and wrote down several common sentences using the verb. I found that by doing this I remembered the verbs and spoke much better.”
You’re now one step closer
Do the above regularly and see the speedy improvements you will make.
Practise as much as possible, program it into you daily life.
Use your free moments, toilet time, travel to/ from work, Sunday mornings in bed ... 10 minutes here and there do make a difference.
Try different tools to find the ones that work for you.
Don’t be disheartened, keep trying, keep learning, keep improving yourself.
Online learning: Done!
The list above is by no means exhaustive. If you have had particular success with a website or online technique, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Noosfeer: dedicated to your learning, helping you achieve your dreams.