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How Do People Learn Languages?

People learn languages in many different ways. Some learn languages online, others with a teacher. Some people go abroad and some take lessons. Some learn so many languages that become polyglots.

Some people have a specific motivation to learn languages which helps them stay motivated.

Let’s find out how different people learn languages!

Learn Languages Like a Polyglot

Polyglots are the best reference you can have if you want to learn many languages. You might not be aiming to learn too many languages, but if you know how they’ve learned, you can copy their methods to learn just one language.

They might have grown up being bilingual or multilingual because they have two or three mother tongues. If that’s the case, learning a fourth or fifth language is not hard for them. This means if you speak two languages, it’ll be easier to learn a third language.

Learning languages improves your cognitive skills, so if you really want to be a polyglot, start with one foreign language. Learning another one will be easier.

How Do Polyglots Learn Languages?

Polyglots definitely love learning, meaning they’re passionate about languages and motivated to learn. So, motivation, perseverance, and passion should be your key ingredients to learn a new language. In fact, an emotional connection with the language you’re learning is essential. If you’re not too motivated, you’ll find it hard. So, if you’re learning a language because you have to, try finding a reason to keep you interested in it.

Polyglots spend a lot of time learning, which means they probably have enough time to study and practice and not just a few minutes a day. They’re dedicated and even if they’re pretty busy, they try to find some time for the language they’re learning.

They usually prioritize listening and speaking over learning grammar rules and lots of new words. This doesn’t mean they avoid grammar and vocabulary, but they try to put them into practice whenever they can in real-life situations and not out of context. They listen to the target language all the time, so they’re more exposed to the language and feel more comfortable when they have to speak.

Also, they’re not scared of making mistakes or, if they are, they take the risk because they know it’s worth it. If they make a mistake and are told about it, they note it down or try to remember it so that they don’t forget it next time.

How Does Music Help Learn Languages?

We have good news for you: music can help you learn languages. Of course, you won’t be fluent just by listening to your favorite song. But it can be a great complement.

Music is pleasant, so just that is enough to explain why music can help you learn. If you learn something while doing something you enjoy or even love, you’ll be more emotionally attached to what you’re learning. And you’ll find the learning process more enjoyable. So, if you like listening to music and you’re learning French but are not too motivated about it, have French music as background.

We all learned to speak with music. Babies and small children love music and adults teach them songs because they know they like music. Babies observe and imitate sounds before they can actually speak. And you probably remember at least one song you heard when you were very young and can associate it with specific memories.

There are other reasons why music is a good complement to your language learning process. Music helps us remember concepts and words, and enrich our vocabulary. It helps us assimilate grammar and complex structures. It also helps us pronounce words and difficult sounds, without making us feel foolish when making a mistake.

Specific people

Now that you know how to learn languages, let’s focus on specific people who learn languages for different reasons like Mormon missionaries, soccer players, the military, and diplomats.

How Do Mormon Missionaries Learn Languages?

Mormons are well-known for going on missions to foreign countries. Every Mormon man is expected to go on a mission overseas for two years. That’s why most Mormons are fluent in a foreign language and have high language skills.

Mormons usually learn languages through intensive language training programs. They also learn with a total immersion in the language once they’re abroad. This means they’re surrounded by the target language for long hours. They get constant oral practice, mainly by praying and are forbidden to speak their native language. However, they mainly learn vocabulary related to religion so the focus is very narrow and limited.

How Do Soccer Players Learn Languages so Fast?

Soccer players who go abroad HAVE to learn a new language. This means that, even if they’re not too excited about learning the language of the environment they’re living in, they know learning it is essential if they want to adapt to a new club but also because they’ll be interviewed and they have to communicate with other soccer players, the referees, the manager, etc. So, that means they have a motivation, and that is very important helps them achieve their aim.

Usually, soccer players have language classes arranged by the club because it’s in its interest. But they mainly learn by interacting with native speakers. So, if a player goes to play for a new team in a new country, he will be interacting with other soccer players who speak the target language and that’s how they really learn. Again, this is called immersion in the language (and the culture): they are fully surrounded by the language.

How Does the Military Learn Languages?

You might be wondering how special forces learn languages. The truth is that high language skills are essential for the military in general. But it really depends on the country you’re referring to.

The military from English-speaking countries usually has training courses and is expected to reach specific goals. If they fail, they’re not eligible for advanced skills training and are less competitive for promotion. So, like soccer players, they have a very specific motivation.

How Do Diplomats Learn Languages?

Diplomats are expected to have a high level in at least two foreign languages. So, we could say diplomates are, in general, polyglots.

In general,  they have a degree in international relations, political science, sociology, or foreign policy, meaning they are interested in foreign affairs, so they’re motivated to learn foreign languages. They are probably taught a foreign language in university. Also, they tend to be extroverted and are supposed to be good communicators. These two factors help them learn foreign languages easily and become fluent.

They usually take one-to-one lessons with native speakers and go abroad, which means they are fully immersed in the culture and are constantly surrounded by the language.

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