There are many good reasons to learn a foreign language. Here are some tips to get you started.
Start as soon as possible. The younger you are, the better you will be to adapting to a new way of communication.
Choose your language. What are your goals for a new language? Do you want to study abroad or do translation work? Are you especially interested in French cuisine, Russian literature, or Italian architecture?
For your first foreign language, it is best to choose one that is useful, interesting, and not too difficult. For the English speaker, a Romance language such as Spanish or French is a good start; German is also an English-friendly language.
Take your time in selecting. It will be difficult to turn back once you’ve begun your linguistic journey.
Have a plan. Search out opportunities around you for learning the language. Check out self-study courses such as those offered by Pimsleur (www.pimsleur.com) and the Foreign Service Institute (www.state.gov/m/fsi).
Research the culture. Language is inseparably connected with culture. Learning about the culture of your target language will illuminate and inspire your study.
Consistency is key. Set aside time each day for language study. If you miss a few days, review your previous material to get yourself caught up.
Immerse yourself. If possible, visit the country where your target language is spoken and immerse yourself in it for several months. If you stay at home, surround yourself with material in your target language – movies, music, books, etc. – and regularly practice speaking well.
Befriend native speakers. These will be your best teachers and practice partners.
Listen, listen, listen. Work on perfecting accent and intonation as well as comprehension by listening to your target language as much as possible.
Always be learning. Even when you reach fluency, always find ways to practice and improve.