5 Helpful Tips on Mastering a Foreign Language

So you’ve decided to broaden your linguistic horizons and learn another language? Maybe you need it for college, maybe you are going  abroad and expect to be gone for quite some time, or maybe you’ve just fallen so madly in love that nothing would give you greater pleasure than being able to say “You are my everything” in fluent Spanish. Whatever the reason, learning a foreign language is exciting, mind-broadening and difficult. Here are some things you might want to consider and prepare for.


What you’ll need most will be motivation. Mastering a foreign language won’t be easy to do and you will need to have something to look forward to when you do it so you don’t give up when it gets hard. The journey will be long, so make sure you reward yourself several times along the way. Like for the first time you’ve spoken a full sentence and actually sounded like a native. Or, the first short story you’ve gotten through, understanding enough to know what actually happened. Or, the first good grade you got – without cheating that is.

Don’t be scared

Try to speak the language, you will make mistakes but don’t be afraid to be wrong. You will learn from your mistakes. Yes, you should make mistakes, in fact – make as many of them as you possibly can. You will know why you are wrong and you will be able to remember it a lot better. However theoretical study of a new language is, there’s no substitute for practice. And, the only way to learn how to do something really well, is to first dare the risk of doing it really badly.


Don’t lose track of what you have learned before. In many ways, your first lessons are your most important ones since they form the foundation of everything you are about to learn. Take the time to learn the basics properly, and don’t forget to come back to them from time to time just to make sure you really do know them as well as you think you do. Also, a good way of revising is watching programs on TV in that language, or listening to the radio. Not only will this teach you how the words are pronounced, you will also start shaping a wider understanding of the language as a whole – not to mention it’s a great way of slowly introducing you to new words. You might even be able to understand some words at once, since they will appear in a context that helps you figure them out.

Repeat after me

It’s not just the basic understanding and interpretation of your new language that improves by you listening to it on the television, podcasts, YouTube videos or music – it also promotes your ability to speak it correctly. Start out by simply mimicking what you hear, and try to emulate the phrasing and melody of the words as closely as you can. Sure, it will sound strange and maybe even phony at first, since you will be copying someone else’s way of talking rather than using your own voice – but that’s just the beginning. Before long, you’ll be able to take over the language bit by bit, and make it your own. Until then, learn by doing – repeating common phrases or entire sentences out loud to yourself and listen carefully to where it sounds right, and where it doesn’t.

Note: you might attract unwanted attention if you are walking around with your headset downtown, sporadically bellowing out phrases in Cantonese. As helpful an exercise as this is, perhaps it is one best suited for the privacy of your home. You have been warned!

Have fun

This might actually be the most important tip of them all. We always learn better when we’re enjoying ourselves, so make sure you find the most stimulating way you can think of to learn your new language. It might be with a friend, completely alone, in a class or on the internet – whatever makes you feel most comfortable.

Are you learning a new language? Please share with us know how you mastered a whole new language.

Bonne chance!

Categories: College Life   Tags: foreign language, mastering a foreign language, learn foreign language, learning a foreign language