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Picking a new language

By Jonathan Wells in London | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-17 07:28

Enjoy songs and films

"I also encourage the use of songs," says Farzad. "In fact, I learned a lot of my English through English pop music long before coming to live in the UK. The lyrics of Terry Jacks' Seasons in the Sun taught me a lot more than all the Janet & John English books!"

Farzad is right. In 2013, a study from the University of Edinburgh discovered that adults who sang words or short phrases from a foreign language while learning were twice as good at speaking it later.

It was suggested that by listening to words that are sung, and by singing them back, the technique takes advantage of the strong links between music and memory.

"Also," adds Farzad, "try watching films as another way of consolidating your language learning process. You can start by watching dubbed versions of originals, such as The Sound of Music or Finding Nemo ... and then move to soaps and thrillers produced in the target language."

Mix with natives

"There aren't many shortcuts that I would recommend," says Ana de Medeiros, director of the Modern Language Centre at King's College London, "but clearly one of the more beneficial methods of learning a new language quickly is to immerse yourself in the culture."

This works better if you already have some rudimentary knowledge of the language. "But, by changing your environment, and actually studying intensively in a country or region where the target language is spoken, you will encounter the words and phrases in very natural situations - which will be very helpful."

"Of course, each student benefits from different approaches, but the best thing is to aim for this repeated exposure to the language you are trying to learn, and engaging in regular speaking practice sessions with a native speaker. Remember, learning a language is very different from simply learning a few choice phrases."

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