Note: This blog post was originally written in Japanese for our Japanese website. We used our machine translation platform Translation Designer to translate it and post-edit the content in English. The original Japanese post can be found here.
Since it's common to speak more than one language today, most of us probably have tried to learn a new language. From the point of view of the means and methods of studying, modern society is probably the richest environment in history.
However, just as there are pros and cons to everything, its abundance can sometimes go against you. For example, there are times when it can be confusing just to decide which of the many means and methods to choose and which is the most effective. Even more, you might wonder what you should study specifically, how you should do it, or how long it will take. It can be overwhelming.
One of our team members at Kawamura recently started thinking about trying a new language, but noticed how different it was compared to when he was in school. Let's take a look at some of the things he considered while searching for a more efficient way to study.
How to get closer to the desired result
How can we get closer to the desired result?
It's important to solve each problem one by one between you and your goal in order to get to the desired result. With that said, there are many problems that we must resolve in order to learn a new language.
Therefore, it's probably the best to first define which of the problems in language learning is the most difficult.
Talking about the hardest part of learning languages
For example, what is the hardest part of learning English? What kind of answer will you get when you ask elementary and junior high school students in Japan?
It might be the proper use of articles (“a” or “the”), the present progressive tense, spelling of words, or the grammatical rules that sometimes seem ambiguous.
What about for Japanese?
It might be writing or reading Kanji, which are characters that originally came from China. Or it might be the arrangement of subjects and verbs that are different from English grammar.
Then, what about Chinese?
There are many difficult language-specific problems, but every language in the world has one problem in common. And that is the most difficult problem.
That is "how to constantly engage in learning every day."
It's indeed a difficult problem, but the solution to this may be already in your hands.
Learning in the digital age
Most of the people reading this post probably have smartphones. Some of you may be even reading this post on a smartphone right now. Looking back on human history, it would be difficult to give an example of something as convenient as a smartphone.
Smartphones have so many great features that they seem to be designed specifically for language learning. When you look at apps, starting from ones to build your vocabulary, you'll also see apps to learn grammar, verb conjugations, and even how to write the characters.
Also, you can practice shadowing and pronunciation with the voice feature, and see how native speakers move their mouths and tongues when they're speaking by watching YouTube. With the camera and microphone built into your smartphone, you can practice conversations with native speakers at a reasonable price.
In addition, there are podcasts on learning languages, online courses, free downloadable practice worksheets, and more. As mentioned earlier, you may be wondering which method to choose.
The most important thing is to first choose a method that allows you to continue studying every day without getting bored. If we were to add a second condition, it's probably more effective to choose a method that would suit your specific goal.
We hope this post brought some ideas to how you can start learning a new language.
The topics we covered are:
- Defining what is the most difficult problem in language learning
- The common problem in learning any language is to continue learning every day
- Smartphones are full of great features for language learning
In part 2 of this post, we'll talk about time, quality, and disfluency. Part 2 will be coming up in the near future!
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