Imagine mastering Spanish. That’s another 430 million people one can talk to. That’s a huge amount of job opportunities in the growing Latin American economy. That’s a whole new world of culture ready to be explored. That’s the immense power of learning another language. Whether you’re a student, or a parent trying to raise a bilingual child, here are some steps you can take to promote bilingualism.
1. Commit to read. Set aside a reasonable amount of time (e.g. 15-30 minutes) each day to read in the language you’re trying to learn. Choose your reading material based on your current proficiency in that language. For example, if you’re just a beginner at Portuguese, you might choose books read by infants. If you’re already at an intermediate level of proficiency, then you might choose books targeted towards middle or high-schoolers. Reading daily goes a long way towards building your vocabulary and awareness of grammatical structures.
2. Practice one person one language (OPOL), to the extent possible. This strategy is often used in families, where each parent will speak a different language to the child. If you’re the one trying to become bilingual, however, you could also employ this strategy with a friend or someone else you know. Consistently speaking to someone in the language you’re learning will help you think quick on your feet and become more confident. If you’re looking for a tutor to help you learn a new language like Spanish, Tutor Me LA can also help!
3. Play that music. Turn on the radio or go on Spotify and listen to songs in the language! The melodies and rhythms that come with music often make remembering words and sentence structures easier for language learners.
4. Immerse yourself in the language’s environment. If it’s possible, you could consider travelling to the area where the language is spoken. Or if that’s not feasible, try looking out for cultural events in your area where there may be speakers of that particular language who will converse with you. For example, Alliance Francaise in Los Angeles regularly holds various events related to French culture.
5. Keep up the streak! When so many other responsibilities come up, it’s easy to put learning aside. But that’s when all your previous effort may just go to waste. Try making a calendar for a certain period (e.g. 3 months) where you plan to learn the language intensively. Each time you complete your personalized set of requirements of the day, like reading for 15 minutes and speaking to a friend for 10 minutes in that language, you can cross out that date on your calendar. When you reach certain milestones like one week or one month, give yourself a small reward! Learning a language is a journey, and motivation will always be key.