So you're looking for some help in deciphering what has been said, or what you have read. You want to know why things don't make any sense, yet you have the feeling a bit of practice is needed. Well here are a few tips that can help you learn quicker.
- Open your Ears
- Get Immersed
- Practice Speaking
- Practice Thinking
- Expand your Vocabulary
Open your Ears
Hohoho hahaha very funny you might be chuckling to yourself; but this is serious business. Relaxing your brain and concentrating on listening to a conversation, when you only understand a couple of words, or none at all is quite the difficult task. It will either come natural to you, or it won't. For me, I don't think it does and I have to really concentrate; simple sentences a doddle, long sentences; got to keep track of what subject we are talking about (and relax into the language). Not laughing anymore are you??
Depending on your situation this one can either be very easy, or very hard. If your in the country of your target language, this is simple: Put the radio on, watch TV, go outside and listen to people talk.
These things will help develop your listening skills, and you will find it easier to distinguish the words being spoken.
If your in your own country, now it is difficult! If you can find yourself some friends that speak the language you want to learn, befriend them and you can teach other. If they are willing to, of course! Now you got to get yourself some learning materials. The internet is probably the best option, youtube some programs or films of the language you want to learn and watch them a good few times. Trying to repeat what is said is a very good way. I worked with a Hungarian that could speak every word of the Matrix in English from start to finish!
The icing on the cake! Now this is the hardest of the five needs! You have to search good and hard for the confidence to speak, maybe you're naturally confident or perhaps your shy in your own language, but start learning a new one and you'll both be equal. Talking to yourself is probably a good start, people might think you are off your rocker but you will show them! Simple things like asking for things at a shop, directions on the street or food and drink in a restaurant; they are all going to build that confidence and you will be chatting like a pro in no time.
How do you do this you ask? Simple, think in the other language. Think of what you want to say and translate it in your head, if you can't, learn the words and/or grammar necessary. Think out loud, it's good for speech practicing as well, helps you get your speech flow down. Eventually for simple things, it will be natural for you to just reply without thinking, you just know what you need to say. I am finding that when I need to think about what to say, English comes first then Hungarian follows almost at the same time.
If you always practice thinking new words in your head and out loud, you will find it takes less thinking to speak.
Expand your Vocabulary
This is an ongoing task, for you can never learn every word a language has to offer, I dare say you don't know every word in your own language, though you probably know a good 20,000. When starting out you will be soaking up as many words as you possibly can, especially the most basic verbs, nouns and adjectives. Each language has different ways of dealing with adverbs and verb tenses and such like so you don't need to worry about them too much. Learning the most important words for everyday conversation is usually best, get the basics down first, the things you will ask for and talk about most.
Crosswords are a fantastic tool for learning new words, fill in as many as you can and then get yourself a dictionary and do your best to complete it. Be aware that one crossword will take you a good while to complete. Do one a day and you will know a thousand words in no time.