To be able to speak English or any other foreign language has become a prerequisite for vast numbers of people throughout the world, and many ways exist for improving your second language without it costing an arm and a leg.
Firstly, it is important to fall in love with the end result rather than concentrate on the difficulties you are going to face trying to get there. Let me give you two examples.
When I was a young lad, and even so today, though time constraints these days have their impact, I used to enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles. When choosing a jigsaw, I never considered how long it would take me to complete, how difficult it was going to be to assemble all the pieces in the correct positions, the possibility of it being in the way for some time, the constant risk that someone passing by could knock it off the table, sending the pieces crashing to the floor, or that there may be a piece or two missing. I fell in love with the finished product, the picture on the lid of the box, and that was my motivation to keep going to the end.
These days it is very common for people young and old, male and female to have aesthetic surgery. Those that do, fall in love with the end result, their perceived improvement in beauty, however superficial it may seem, rather than concentrating on the pain of the surgery, and the recuperation process.
You need to do the same when learning a foreign language or any other task. Consider the increased opportunities you will have when you can speak your desired foreign language, not the pain and suffering of getting there. See the time and money spent as an investment which will pay back huge dividends in the future.
With any task that requires great effort, it is always recommendable to break the task down into smaller, less daunting tasks, that require less time and are easier to achieve, and which on their successful completion, provide the necessary motivation to continue. For example this could be breaking down the learning of the tense system into each individual tense, and subsequently into sections such as, positive statements, negative statements and questions.
Set goals. As Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” A study at Harvard University discovered that after two years, the 3% of graduates who had written goals achieved more in financial terms than the other 97% combined. Obviously, wealth is not the only measurement of success, but the idea is applicable to any situation. If you set goals you have a far greater chance of succeeding because you are more focussed. The goal here is that you achieve a fluency level in your chosen language that meets your desired needs.
Taking into account the idea of breaking complicated tasks down into smaller, more manageable tasks, you can have short term, midterm and long term goals.
Someone once asked me what my students Language of desire found most difficult in their quest for learning English, my reply was, discipline and determination.
It is possible that you do not have much time for studying a foreign language, in which case you need to be very strict with your time. Set aside specific periods during the week when you are going to study and don’t stray from this agreement with yourself. Use your time wisely and you will be more productive, and be rewarded with results that will inspire you to continue. Don’t give up. There will be times when you feel you are making little or no headway, keep going and those feelings of lack of improvement will disappear.
There are many opportunities for studying a second language these days which do not require a large financial investment.
Reading is a great way to improve your vocabulary, while at the same time learning the structure and colloquial expressions. Choose articles or books that are the right level for you. Don’t feel embarrassed reading children’s books if you are just starting out, and you level is low. Also select those which you think you will find interesting and enjoyable. Try to read about different topics so you widen your vocabulary rather than restricting it to one specific area.
Watch programs on television in the language you are trying to learn. This will considerably improve your listening skills, while at the same time building up your vocabulary and confidence as you realise you can understand words that you couldn’t before. Don’t be disheartened if you understand very little at the beginning, persevere and over time you will notice your improvement. If your level is low, you could initially try this exercise with subtitles in your native language, then over time try it with them in the language you are studying, with the ultimate goal being to not use them at all.
Make good use of the plethora of websites that provide exercises for studying foreign languages. Try typing, “English, French or Spanish, as a second language into Google and check the results. If you have a hobby or interest that you are passionate about, try reading about it in the language you are studying rather than your own language.
Most learners of a second language will feel the need to take classes, and this option is certainly recommended as you can’t talk to your book, television or computer, well you can, but the people around you will probably suggest the need to make an appointment with a shrink