With special guest Sam Patel (The KKCL Polyglot)
I was raised learning three languages (English, Gujarati and Hindi), so being able to learn other languages could simply be a natural ability for me.
But could I be wrong? Let’s find out.
I feel that I picked up many of my languages just by being exposed to them and being interested in them. The languages I picked up are Gujarati, Hindi Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Japanese; and I briefly experimented with Russian and Mandarin. I also learnt English and French at school.
I can guess that you’re wondering how this is possible. I’ll try and give you some tips and tricks that may help you.
Firstly, I watched TV programmes, movies and animation in the languages I was interested in. This wasn’t too difficult, as I could always read English subtitles and listen in the other language, so after the word was repeated several times it stuck in my head.
Secondly, I made friends with people that spoke the language and socialized with them frequently. At first it was difficult to understand them but after a few times together I realized that body language helped so much and it could explain so many things simply, so eventually I started to imitate how my friends spoke or expressed things, which helped me sound more natural.
Living with natives can improve your skills too because you are with them 24/7 and need to communicate with them daily. I lived with a Brazilian family and there was a 3-year-old toddler who wanted attention constantly and I learnt so much vocabulary and it helped my speaking and listening skills.
I listened to and still listen to various music in different languages, generally slow and understandable music, sometimes rap. It helps me because if you sing the song as well it can improve your pronunciation, and I also downloaded various podcasts which helped me improve my Japanese and Portuguese.
The only reading I did was phrase books and dictionaries. Until now, I’ve only read 1 novel in Portuguese. Yes, it can give you a headache, I’ve had many whilst reading, but I did it with many breaks and read only two pages at a time and wasn’t in a rush to complete it. Keep a dictionary with you and randomly choose any page and pick 2 new words from it and try to make a sentence with it about your life.
My final say on the subject, and what I strongly live by, is be keen to learn; be curious about anything and everything and don’t be shy to express how you feel or what you want to say because you won’t improve without making mistakes. So make mistakes, talk freely and don’t worry about them because you will learn from it.
Learn everything you can, all the time, from anyone and one day you will feel proud that you did.