Want to learn a new language? There are a few hobbies that can actually make learning easier! Find out what they are in this guest post by Liisi Pajula…
It’s widely known that being fluent in two or more languages is good for your brain and your well-being! The benefits of being bilingual run the gamut from increased problem-solving skills to improved memory and creativity, and speaking another language can even help slow the brain’s aging and delay dementia.
Obviously learning a new language requires consistent practice, including listening, speaking, and writing in your target language. But did you know that there are also other hobbies and skills that can help you on your way to fluency? Let’s take a look at a few of them.
1) Music can help you process languages better
We’ve all heard the benefits of learning a musical instrument; studies have shown that children who learn an instrument at an early age develop larger vocabularies and a better sense of grammar, for example. And the benefits you gained as a child (or now, if you’re learning music as an adult) can also translate to your language learning!
When you study music, both sides of your brain work together to learn the complicated finger movements and process sounds. It’s the latter part that really helps you acquire a new language – since all speech is essentially sounds, the better you are at deciphering them, the easier it will be to remember new vocabulary and understand what is being said.
Prep your brain – tip #1: Sign up for music lessons (whatever instrument interests you!), or simply dedicate time to listening and analyzing sounds to make language learning easier!
2) Making sense of language through logic
Have you ever tried memorizing a poem that you didn’t really understand? We’re guessing it didn’t go very well. To really learn something, you need to have a deep understanding of it. And languages are no different – to learn a new language and become fluent, you need to analyze and understand the building blocks before you move on to more complicated phrases and sentences.
This is where logic comes in very handy. Although there are always exceptions, most languages have clear grammar rules that govern how particular words behave in more complex sentences. If you can analyze and make sense of those rules, learning a new language will much easier.
Prep your brain – tip #2: Dedicate time to solving puzzles, learn to play chess, or practice complicated math equations to improve your logic and insight into how languages are built.
3) Meditate your way to fluency
Meditation has been proven to be an all-around great idea to help you increase your concentration and brain function. Not surprisingly, this means that meditation can also help you learn a new language quicker.
With meditation, you can learn to switch off distracting thoughts that would otherwise stop you from concentrating on your language learning efforts. This means that you’re more focused on the task at hand, making it a lot easier to memorize new vocabulary or recall old information.
Prep your brain – tip #3: Practice meditation or yoga through classes or private yoga sessions. Even just a few minutes every day have been proven to increase your brain’s capacity to learn new information!
4) Become a great observer
If music can help you acquire a language through recognizing its sounds and processing them better, great observation skills can do that through visual analysis. If you are a natural people-watcher or have spent hours looking at stars through a telescope, you have already given yourself great tools to simplify learning new languages.
Being a great observer means that you pay attention to what is happening around you and critically interpret that info. That is something that is vital for language learning as well. For example, you can look at native speakers (or videos) of your target language and make out what is being said, or detect patterns where more casual onlookers see none.
Prep your brain – tip #4: Hobbies like astronomy or computer games can help you improve your observational skills.
Luckily for all learners, our brains are hard-wired to make sense of the languages that surround us – just look at how easily babies pick up their native tongues. Although this process becomes increasingly difficult with age, the hobbies listed above can make learning easier for you.
Take the time to exercise your brain, and you may become fluent faster than you thought!
A lifelong language learner herself, Liisi turned her love for languages into a way of life when she co-founded Teacher Finder. Having studied six languages herself, Liisi finds great pleasure in helping students around the world on their way to fluency.