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Bilingual Brain

In a world that is growing more connected than ever before due to advancing technology and social media, learning a second or even a third language is becoming increasingly important. While many of today’s youth take middle and high school language classes, they often leave these classes with minimal speaking abilities in their target language. However, if you are interested in learning another language, there are ways to teach yourself a language at home. Language learning is complex, but staying focused and interested in your target language with the proper techniques, consistency, and dedication is possible. Whether you are unsure if you want to learn a new language or hope to begin or improve your language learning skills, keep reading to find out!

Why you should learn a new language:

  • Building knowledge: Learning a new language makes information so much more accessible. By understanding the nuances of a language, you automatically have access to more sections of knowledge, such as the culture. It also builds your brain’s critical thinking skills and multitasking abilities.
  • Breaking the communication barrier: By learning another language, you won’t only know more about your language but also understand a new communication system and become accustomed to new cultures and people. It enhances relationships.
  • Creates opportunities: Learning a new language helps create opportunities to find careers abroad or travel without the stress of not understanding the language.
  • Gives yourself a hobby: Learning a language is a gratifying hobby as you can see yourself progress in developing something you did not know previously. In addition, it can be fun to implement a routine and feel proud of the small accomplishments made along the way.

How to start your language journey:

  • First, find the suitable study material: It can be daunting finding the right study materials, but by finding a textbook that teaches your target language, it is possible to go lesson by lesson and not lose motivation on where to begin.
  • Second, learn valuable words: Some textbooks may want to teach vocabulary words that are not useful in your daily life. If you struggle to form sentences, try studying the words you use most and translate those into your target language.
  • Third, be consistent: Consistency is the best way to build your language skills. By slowly building your vocabulary and grammar skills, it is possible to store this information in your long-term memory. Ways to improve your language learning skills:

Change your goals continuously:

If you start with a too large goal, such as “become fluent in (insert target language),” it may not be effective as you may lose motivation quickly. Instead, it is better to continuously set smaller goals such as “learn 20 new vocabulary words a week”.

  • Fourth, always read aloud: Reading aloud will help you stay active in memorizing the words you are reading, but it will also help you improve your pronunciation and accent.

Find a partner:

Finding a partner learning the same language can be extremely useful for staying motivated and ensuring you are consistently learning new vocabulary and grammar patterns. Having conversations with your partner will allow you to actively recall the vocabulary you have learned and will force you to recognize what type of words you need to focus on.

Written by Ianne, YVC International Youth Advisory Board Member from Racine, WI.
Ianne is a senior in high school and has been volunteering with YVC Racine for over two years.