Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tip of the Day: Key Tips in Learning a New Language on "Short-Notice"

Admittedly, some nationalities of citizens are more likely to gravitate to foreign language-learning than those from other countries. 

Specifically, I've always been impressed with the Japanese in terms of their willingness to "take on" any language as well as the utmost of respect for Europeans in terms of their capacity to seemingly assimilate so many languages with virtual ease.

Unfortunately, language-learning has never been a particularly high-priority in the US educational system at any level, although we are beginning to see foreign languages being offered far more than in the past.

It is an understatement that foreign language-learning in the US has never been a huge priority, particularly in government and private business sectors.

One challenge for governmental and private sector companies in the US who need short-term help in selecting a wide-range of skill levels with only a few months' notice.

On a positive note, I've been blessed with having considerable foreign language-learning opportunities during my six years in the the US Marines as well as while employed in the US Foreign Service as a special agent and Senior Regional Security Officer (SRSO) during the course of a 22-year career. 

Collectively, I've learned Spanish, Greek and Hangul [Korean] and Thai in a "total immersion" setting, as well as conversational French and Arabic. 

In these various language-learning incarnations I've learned that humility is very much a virtue:).

In terms of "takeaways" for those of you who find yourselves catapulted into having to learn a new foreign language on the "fly," I offer the following tips:

1. Whether you are learning a new language in a "total-immersion" fashion or conversationally, as I did with Arabic, Japanese, and French, some of the best advice I can offer is to NOT compare a language you're learning to those you may already know;

2. Look at language-learning akin to learning math and you'll no doubt find the process easier;

3. The incredible gift that I've learned from language-learning is that being able to converse with a native in their own language, order a meal, engaging in "chit-chat," learning about a country, etc., is that it is an indescribable experience;

4. Some years ago, I worked on an international project for a Japanese governmental client, which prompted me to order Level 1 and 2 from http://www.rosettastone.com;

5. I was truly stunned at how much I could learn just in a matter of weeks. It was an incredible experience and one that I urge our readers to consider doing, particularly when you have but weeks to get ahead of the learning curve; and

For those that are unfamiliar with the Rossettastone "system," when you un-package your DVDs you'll discover that the disks open up in color and literally walk you through the language-learning sequence in the form of a series of  enjoyable exercises that are actually "fun" to experience. You'll be amazed at how quickly time passes; and

6. My experience with the Japanese levels in Rossettastone has caused me to suggest that if you do a "show-and-tell" with your bosses so that they, too, can learn just how easy language-learning can be it may be easier to justify selling them on the idea that you need one or two-weeks with an experienced language instructor so that you can "polish" your conversation in the language before your trip abroad.