There are so many excuses that can easily dissuade an individual from endeavoring to learn a new language. Some popular excuses range from that «I’m too old» to “it’s too expensive”. I say bleh to this. Hence in this article, we will be exploring the best ways to learn a new language – for everyone.
Therefore, in the spirit of Caminhos Language Centre I thought it’s best to begin this commentary with the benefits of language courses. Courses are a great way to learn a new language because of their interactive and dynamic nature. Group courses are social, and should provide a supportive atmosphere in which all students can learn from each others’ mistakes. The aspects of camaraderie and group encouragement, combined with the assurance of learning amongst peers at your own level, make for a confidence boosting and memorable experience!
Bonus points for language courses that offer extracurricular social activities, for instance cultural trips and nightlife experiences such as bar hops. Social activities that include some sort of cultural immersion are not only fun, but an effective way to practice and internalize your foreign language! At Caminhos Language Centre there are a variety of activities to choose from. You can join us for a game of beach volleyball at Ipanema Beach, or sign up for cooking classes, samba classes, bike-tours, and much more!
Which takes me to my next point – Immersion. Cultural and linguistic immersion can be overwhelming at first, but as long as you keep at it, bits and bobs will progressively begin to sink in until at last you can follow an entire conversation. Make Brazilian friends! Or Brazilian “more than friends” 😉 Join a club! A sports-club, a chess-club. Anything that will have you constantly exposed to, or interacting, in Portuguese, and thereby constantly learning.
For those who cannot afford immersion courses and travel; I have good news for you! There are many ways to immerse yourself in a language whilst never having to step foot out of the front-door! For example, music is a fantastic and enjoyable way to develop vocabulary, pronunciation as well as grammar, in a seemingly effortless way.
Personally, I find listening to music in the Portuguese language invaluable to my progress. I recommend learning song lyrics by heart, and then dissecting the verses piece by piece, trying to make sense of each nuance. Once you have a good understanding of said song, I strongly advise that you sing, sing, sing. In the shower, at home alone, in a cave – wherever! Singing your foreign language out loud is a very effective way to improve pronunciation, as well as learn fun new vocabulary and idioms.
The same goes for Portuguese-language films and series; watch Brazilian movies. Watch them with subtitles in your native tongue to begin with, and once you are more advanced in your foreign language, have a go at changing the subtitles to Portuguese! (This will help you become familiar within formal, fast, everyday-type Portuguese without even getting out of your pajamas!)
There’s no right age to start learning
Finally, I will address the common misconception that only young children can learn foreign languages. And although there is a hypothesis that claims there’s a “critical period” between the ages of 5 and 12 which is the optimum time for language acquisition, there are also an abundance of studies which demonstrate the benefits of learning a new language well into adulthood. For example, the brain is always developing, and learning a new language can increase the brain’s size, specifically the hippocampus (the area of the brain responsible for forming, storing and retrieving memories.) So learning a foreign language as an adult can make you smarter!
So I say, go for it! There is no such thing as being “good” or “bad” at languages, it is all to do with your motivation, determination and perseverance. Conclusively, my last piece of advise would be to lose your ego; do not be afraid to make mistakes or be embarrassed. You cannot learn without making mistakes, nor can you learn a new language without appearing to be dimwit from time to time. Good luck! Boa sorte!
Study Portuguese in Brazil with Caminhos Language Centre. We offer different Brazilian Portuguese classes, such as group classes, private lessons, Celpe-Bras preparation, Immersion in Rio de Janeiro, In-Company training and more. We can also help you with Student Visa for Brazil.