Lifestyle, Literacy

How Do You Learn A Foreign Language?

Do You Need To Study A Foreign Language?

Do you know that majority of the people around the world speak more than one language? According to the Guardian, most Europeans speak multiple languages. As a Filipino, I am fluent in two languages: Filipino (Tagalog) and English. I am trying to learn Italian without going to a formal language school.

study foreign language

The Need To Learn the Italian Language

I started learning the Italian language last year when we relocated to Italy. In order to survive daily life and pass a requirement for permanent residency, I have to learn Italian in two years!

Fun Fact: Do you know that the Italian language originated in Tuscany? It was the language spoken in Firenze and Pisa, and it was an alternative to Latin during the middle ages!

 

Language Learning As An Adult

It is so much harder for adults to learn a new language! Children have an easier time learning a language because their brains are wired to absorb information so easily. But I am not going to let my age stop me from learning something new.

(Daily prompt: age)

What Language Experts Say About Learning A Foreign Language

There are two perspectives in language teaching: the Linguistic Perspective (form) and the Sociolinguistic Perspective (function).

The Linguistic Perspective hopes to have learners use the target language correctly, while the Sociolinguistic Perspective hopes to make learners use the language fluently.

Linguistic Approach:

  1. Lexical focus: vocabulary and their meanings
  2. Syntactic focus: rules of grammar and sentence patterns

In the linguistic approach, learners learn the structure of the language.

Sociolinguistic Approach:

1. Functional focus: social functions (e.g. initiating conversations, ordering in a restaurant) and expressive functions (e.g. when we give an opinion or when we express an emotion)

2. Conceptual focus: concepts (e.g. notions of time, notions of relations)

3. Focus on rules of use: appropriate language use ( you must know not only what to say, but also how to say it)

4. Focus on tasks: doing tasks that require you to be creative and to take risks

5. Focus on content: learning language for a specific field (e.g. science)

(Source: Second Language Teaching by T. Ruanni Tupas, 2009.)

I think that both perspectives are important in language learning. You need to build your knowledge of words and grammar rules. You also need to know the appropriate words to use at a certain time. For example, “Ciao” is a friendly expression for “hello” or “bye”,  “salve” is a more neutral greeting, while “buon giorno” and “arrivederci” are used in a formal situation. The use of gestures is also important in Italy, as well as your manner of speaking.

I found that the best way for me to learn a new language is to actually become immersed in the social environment of native speakers. I pick up words from people I meet in the grocery store or on the train. Most Italians in my city are very helpful in explaining what they mean, either by translating into English or accompanying their words with gestures.

I also learn from my mistakes. This is a good way to learn since linguistic errors are part of the language learning process.

 I am a visual and kinesthetic learner, and I learn better when I see things, do things, and write things.

Resources That Help Me Learn Italian

First, I downloaded a free language app called Duolingo, which was useful in teaching me common Italian words and expressions. The problem with the app is I could not seem to continue my streak for more than three days. I get bored with it after ten minutes of use, and I easily get distracted by other forms of social media (since I am using my phone). The good news is that it is constantly being updated to motivate learners! It can be a useful supplement if you can use it every day.

 

Instagram has also helped me learn Italian while I am scrolling through my feed.  

Idrawitalian  is a graphic designer and she creates attractive visual language aids in Italian:

The – definite articles in italian

A post shared by Teaching Myself Italiano (@idrawitalian) on

Another account I follow is Simpsons.Italian. I seem to remember things better when there’s humor involved!

This is the Italian-English dictionary that I often use. Although I also use Google Translate, I feel a certain satisfaction when I thumb through the pages of a book. I also highlight commonly used words or words that stand out to me.

 

What are your reasons for learning another language? What are you doing to help you learn it? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Read Next: What Do Italians Have For Breakfast?

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