Tips on learning a new language from a UVU student

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There are many benefits to learning a new language, including having more job opportunities or being able to better understand different cultures. However, there is no doubt that learning a foreign language takes time and effort.

Zachary Yoshida, a junior studying English at UVU, said, “ I think it helps one to understand a little more the cultural differences between two societies of different languages.” He also mentioned that learning a language from a different culture makes you think from a different perspective.

Yasuko Saito, a Japanese lecturer at UVU, agreed that learning different languages can change a person’s point of view. Saito also said that there are phrases in one language that you can’t express in another. She gave an example of the English expression “none of your business,” which cannot be expressed in Japanese. The reason for this is that, culturally, Japanese speakers usually don’t use direct phrases when speaking to others.

As a Chinese speaker, I have been learning English since elementary school. I have found that English is difficult to learn because of the uncertainty of grammar rules, and more importantly, because I used a method that didn’t work for me. Because of my experience learning English, I would love to share some tips for learning a foreign language.

Tip number one: Learn like a baby
Most of us learn how to speak a language at such an early age that we don’t even remember it. We imitate our parents and start to speak, not thinking about grammar. From my experience, it is much harder to start with learning English grammar instead of learning how to speak. Before I came to America, I understood the grammar rules, but I couldn’t apply them in a conversation. When I became immersed in the environment, I was forced to speak and listen to English every day. I learned English more effectively with the “baby” method, speaking the language when you are young, not worrying about grammar, than the grammar method, learning grammar first.

Tip number two: Immerse yourself in the language environment
Immersion is an effective way to learn languages. If you want to talk with native speakers, join a language club. UVU provides many opportunities for students to learn the other languages, such as language courses, language clubs and study abroad.

Yoshida advises students to use the resources UVU offers to engage with the language and culture. He said, “Go see the tutors, even if it is just to practice speaking normal conversation. Take the additional conversation classes. Talk to the professors and classmates.”

Tip number three: Find a medium that you prefer
Whether it is watching TV shows, listening to music or reading in the language that you want to learn, it is important to find the medium you prefer. These activities can increase your motivation and interest in learning a language. “ [If you are learning Japanese,] watching animation is good because you can get used to the tone of Japanese language and repeat it out loud,” Saito said.

Tip number four: Be confident
In a talk show from TEDx Talks, “One Simple Method to Learn Any Language,” Scott Young, a blogger, speaker and author who writes about self-education, and his friend,Vat Jaiswal, share their experiences of staying in four different countries and learning to speak that country’s language. They had a goal to not speak English for the whole year.

Vat Jaiswal said, “The core issue [of learning language] is that people get stuck in this zone of fear and frustration.”

Confidence improves your skill in speaking a foreign language. It is very common to be afraid of making a mistake when learning a foreign language; however, making mistakes is a part of learning. “I don’t want anybody to be shy and embarrassed, because everybody is learning. If you don’t say anything, you don’t learn.” Saito said.

Young said, “We’re encouraging you to get started with something, not to be perfect, and maybe even today to decide to find out one person and start [the no English] rule, and finally speaking that language.” The purpose of this is to build up your confidence. Maybe start with a one-on-one conversation instead of a group of people, it can reduce fear and frustration. It is also a good way to build up confidence; the more we speak, the more the language imprints on our memory, and then we will finally feel confident about speaking in that language.

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