Effectively Become Fluent in a New Language

Edited by Zoe Slavin, Charmed, Ephraim


Learning a new language is a difficult task. Even more difficult is becoming entirely fluent. Becoming fluent means more than just being able to recite the language and phases. It means thinking in the language and not constantly translating in your head. Being able to read, hear and speak a language effectively is harder than it would seem. These steps and tips should help you achieve fluency in any language that you study.

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  1. 1
    Identify words and phrases to what they mean, not what they translate to
    When you practice learning words and phrases it's easy to associate them with their translation, not what you are actually speaking about. For example, if you were learning French, when you say "bonjour" don't think "hello" in your head, think about the act of greeting someone. A good way to practice this is with flashcards that do not have the corresponding word of your native language on the back, but a picture instead.
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  2. 2
    Practice understanding the language in all its forms
    That means practicing speaking it, hearing and understanding it, reading and writing it. A good way to get all of these kinds of practice in are to find someone that you can speak with and write letters back and forth to. You can look for a pen pal or Skype friend from another country in several different places. If you are in college try to find an exchange student who is a native speaker of the language you are studying. There are also sites meant to help you learn languages where you can find a pen pal to write back and forth to. The more you speak, hear and write the language, the more natural it will feel and the more that you use the language instead of just translating constantly in your head.
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  3. 3
    Try looking for media in the language you're trying to learn
    Look for versions of books, songs or movies that are in the language you are studying. What's even more helpful is to find ones you've already read, seen or heard before. You will already have an idea of the meanings that you can begin to learn new words or phrases from what you already know about the media. Then once you get better at this and you begin to understand more of what is being said more quickly, you can try doing this with media you aren't familiar with. You may be internally translating everything at first, but over time you will begin to understand the language as it is without thinking about what you hear means in your native language.
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  4. 4
    Try mixing it up
    It may seem silly, but try talking to yourself flowing seamlessly as possible in and out of your native language. This is good practice for several reasons. First of all, you can hear how you speak your native language in comparison to the language you are learning. You hear the difference in the way your words and sentences flow. You may be surprised, even if you may be good at speaking the language, how awkwardly you speak. You can identify what specifically you have trouble with and fix it from there. This also forces your brain to not to translate because when you speak your native language you do not translate, so when you go back to not speaking your native language you will be less likely to translate internally.
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  5. 5
    Speak or write the language constantly, even if it's just to yourself
    Recite to yourself what you are doing in the new language or keep a journal writing exclusively in the language you are learning. Saying or thinking what you are doing at a given time just means you're still practicing even when you're by yourself. When you are walking to the bathroom, for instance, think to yourself in the new language, "I am walking to the bathroom." If you have pets, you can talk to them to. They won't judge and you can talk to something to practice.
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  6. 6
    Try thinking in the language
    It sounds easier than it is. Try to actually have thoughts in the language you are learning. True fluency comes from thinking in the language as well as speaking it. Be careful when you do this as it is easy to slip right back into your native language without even noticing.
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Tips Tricks & Warnings

  • Practice consistently! Every day you do not practice or use the language will set you back. Make sure to try to write, speak, hear and read just a little bit every day.
  • Don't get frustrated while you are doing all of these exercises. They will be difficult at first but the pay-off will be worth it.
  • Keep at it. The process toward fluency will take time. It only comes from practice over time. Make sure that you plan to practice every day for a long span of time.
  • After you arrive at fluency, make sure you still use the language. You will lose and forget it if you do not use it on a regular basis. Don't let all of your hard work go to waste.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Article Info

Categories : Language

Recent edits by: Charmed, Zoe Slavin

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