With easy access to world travel, picking up a second language has become an increasingly tantalizing idea. There is no better way to learn about a culture than by understanding its language. It is a pleasant thought to imagine conversing with the natives in Spanish on your backpacking trip through Peru, or asking locals about the best bistros in French during your visit to Paris.
As a result of this sweeping desire for learning languages, there are countless new methods to choose from. Some, though, have demonstrated better results and are widely agreed to stand out above the rest.
The old days of drowning a new language learner in grammar and textbooks are fleeting. European schools have discovered a far more effective methodology called content and language integrated learning. The theory revolves around teaching non-language subjects in a foreign language. This gives students a chance to understand and use language as a tool for communication, not just a complex system of rules.
Research has shown the vast success of this approach, and the concurring results of science-based linguistic studies are hard to challenge. Memorization and repetition are obviously crucial, but a book alone cannot demonstrate the sounds we must learn and the way we need to manipulate our mouths to make those sounds. Also, vocabulary learning happens much more naturally when people are able to comprehend new words as they are used in context.
As with any learning process, the most efficient way to acquire a language involves a combination of methodologies, and programs like Babbel and Duolingo are giving home learners unlimited access. Matthew Youlden of Babbel, who speaks nine languages, agrees that apps can be magnificent tools when employed as part of a larger routine. Making use of tips from a master polyglot like Matthew is great idea. Some of his more pertinent advice is to use a partner for frequent practice, as well as talking to yourself to keep new words and phrases fresh in your mind.
Old dogs may or may not be able to learn new tricks, but adult humans can most definitely learn new languages. Know your motivation high and be willing to immerse yourself completely, and you can be multilingual in no time.