October 24, 2014

The Joys and Struggles of Learning a New Language

“A different language is a different vision of life.” -Federico Fellini
Learning a new language can be really fun and at the same time really exhausting. Just like learning anything new it takes time and a little bit of patience. Growing up in a bilingual environment may have influenced in me in having an interest in learning other languages since a really young age. So many languages so little time! When I finally enrolled at university I had the opportunity to take a variety of languages. At the end I ended up choosing French, Japanese and German. Yes, I know they are very different – completely different families but I love it and enjoy very much the journey in learning these beautiful languages (and their culture). I most point out I’m not an expert but I thought I would share a few tips for fellow language enthusiasts or if you are planning on learning a new language for the first time.

Study everyday: Seriously, especially if you don’t live in an area or a country where they speak the language is really important to practice as much as possible. I like to take at least 30 minutes everyday to study new vocabulary, review past lessons, practice exercises. If you can do more even better!

Be organized: There is nothing worst than forgetting when is your test and have only a few hours to study. It’s not a good idea to forget those kind of dates, so have an agenda of important dates and this is really good to know if you have any questions you can have them clarified on time. If you’re not taking classes, I think been organized helps too in the sense of having all your materials in one place and to document your process in a notebook or folder.

Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going. - Rita Mae Brown

Involve yourself in the language: This is another reason why I love learning a new language. Is a great way to learn and discover different cultures. Besides looking up about the history and cultural information about the places where they speak the language, I like to look up music, TV shows, movies, even blogs. You can find something that really interest you and even helps you in your learning. So when I’m not studying, in my free time I can still practice by listing to songs, watching a movie with subtitles, read a book. At first it wont make sense but believe me that through time things will make more sense and you wont need those subtitles anymore! Another little point is: try to give a chance to things that are aimed for kids, this is because they mostly use very simple vocabulary and it's really easy to understand.

Take around a notebook:  And when I say a notebook I mean something really small like this. This tip I learned from one of my professors and I think it has worked really well. The reason behind this is to take a little notebook everywhere with you to practice whenever you can instead of being on the phone checking Twitter all the time. What I did was separated the notebook in 5 parts: nouns, adjectives, verbs, questions/phrases and other words (vocabulary that don’t fit in others). Every new vocabulary you learn just write it in the notebook, look up a definition and take that everywhere! By writing it down on paper makes it easier to memorize, but if you prefer the technical way of using a tablet or your phone is ok.

I hope these simple tips might have given you an idea or even encourage you to not be afraid to learn a new language. I think every language is difficult to learn because it is something new and different but if you are really interested and give your time and heart it will happen through time. And hey!! maybe you can even take a trip to a place and give the excuse the need to practice (educational purposes)!

“I worked as hard as I could. I’m not fluent but I felt like I made real headway. The language is beautiful.” - Lisa Williams



  1. I love learning new languages too. It's a shame that I struggle with studying every day and getting involved in the language. I really enjoyed learning Japanese when I did - my favourite part is reading and writing. It's like a beautiful logic puzzle, if that makes sense.

    Great tips. I'll be sure to keep them in mind if I ever decide to take learning Dutch seriously!

    euhnella x

    1. Yes, it is like a puzzle! Learning kana was one of my favorite things in learning Japanese. But from the three, Japanese was the most difficult because the syntax is so different!

      Thank your for passing by and good luck in learning Dutch! x


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