We take speaking English fluently for granted. Communicating is just so easy and natural for us now. How would it feel to be a immigrant going to school who didn't know English? Last week I met a student-athlete from France. When he came here he could not speak a word of English, yet he graduated with a 3.5GPA... (And you thought learning Spanish was hard! Try taking all your classes in it.) But the point is learning a new language is not near as hard or time consuming as you think. In fact, its natural. Here's how.
When you had to take a foreign language in school it felt like a chore didn't it? You could pass but mostly forgot everything after the class was over. Now, you want to learn a language but with no teacher and no money for Rosetta Stone. The first thing to do is cover why you want to learn this language. For this will determine what areas of the language to attack. Lets say your going on the Auburn Euro Tour this May and you want to learn Italian to speak with waiters and such. Focus your efforts on introduction and conversational topics. We are not trying to master the language, just enough to speak your mind. Or order Gelato..
Then follow the 80/20 rule. Find 20% of the words and phrases used 80% of the time. A good method would be to list the top verbs, nouns, and phrases used in dealing with strangers and potential new friends (keeping in mind your Italian language goal). From there, see how these phrases and words interact with each other. For Italian there are formal and informal ways. Some verbs may be congregated differently. A method Tim Ferris, author of the Four Hour Workweek, used is write out all the translations of these six sentences.
The apple is red.
It is John’s apple.
I give John the apple.
We give him the apple.
He gives it to John.
She gives it to him.
Just knowing how to interplay these words will get you very far.
Also, a great way to learn is to learn by something that interest you. Say you really love Italian cooking. Grab an Italian cook book in Italian! This will give your brain a bridge to the actions you are reading. Its easier for it to accompany these new words to their meaning when action is also applied. You will also be able to speak of Italian food more fluently and will impress your date when you order Linguine all'aragosta o all'astice (Linguine with lobster) in perfect tongue.
Lastly another great on-the-go option is podcast and smartphone apps. For the Italian example, I use the ItalianPod101.com podcast. For my Iphone, I have the Mind Snacks and Babbel French/Italian app. Good luck on your learning ! One of the most freeing feelings is having the ability to talk to anyone in a foreign place. If you want to put learning a language to good use check out the European Grad Tour in May!
See all the details and info on this adventure at alumniworldtravel.com/auburn.html Ciao!