Learning a second language

Kelly Smith

Think back to a time when you were walking down the sidewalk or standing in line for something, and heard someone near you start speaking another language. How do you react? Were you interested in their language? Did it irritate you at all? Did you wish you knew what they were saying? Whether we accept it or not, language diversity is very common in this world. And although it’s not something anybody should feel obligated to do, there are benefits of knowing a second language.

My high school required at least two years of a foreign language. Many of my friends groaned about it. Why do we have to learn another language, anyway? What’s the point? I took Spanish all throughout high school because I wanted to “climb the ladder,” so to speak, and see how far I could go and how much I could learn. Although I was exposed to many aspects of the Spanish language, I left high school believing there was still more to learn. I knew a lot of vocabulary and was fairly familiar with the grammar rules, but I still didn’t have the fluency I would need to speak with a native speaker.

During my freshman year here at GV, I came across sponsor for a language-learning program called Pimsleur. If you aren’t aware if this program, it basically functions as a step-by-step learning guide. Its philosophy is to teach a foreign language the same way we learned how to speak our first, starting with simply words and phrases that are always referred back to and practiced even as the lessons progress. Although I never had the time to use it too much, I found it to be quite useful for practicing my speaking.

I’m not necessarily trying to promote anything in particular, but based on my experience, I believe that learning a second language really isn’t as hard as some people want to believe. According to Pimsleur, many people believe that the best time to learn a language is during early childhood, when we learned out first language, but on the contrary, it’s actually easier for adults if taught the proper way.

Now, I’m not saying that we need to boycott any foreign language classes that teach another method, because people learn differently, but if you’re interested in learning another language and have found it to be difficult in the past, try a simpler approach. It doesn’t have to be Pimsleur. If you wish to study abroad, there’s a golden opportunity for you, or maybe there’s someone you know who’s fluent in another language. There’s many opportunities. Basically, what you want is something that gives you the time and opportunity to practice speaking and understanding any given aspect of the language before moving on to the next concept.

When it comes to learning any language, I think the best approach to take things one step at a time and put the focus on being able to speak the language fluently as well as understand it from a conventional standpoint. So, interested in learning a second language? Give this method a try.