Some people find it easier to pick up new languages, while others struggle just to pick up the basics. What’s the difference?
You might think that some people simply have a natural affinity to language learning, but that’s not totally true. Often, there are numerous factors at play, both natural and circumstantial, that contribute to how well an individual can learn a language.
If you’re interested to learn the ropes of the Chinese language, or are currently studying a foreign language, you should be aware of these factors that determine how fast or easy your journey will be. Which of these do you have or lack?
1. Motivation and drive
Someone who understands just how important and beneficial learning a new language will be for their life will inevitably learn a new language faster and do much better in their language classes than those who don’t really value or know the importance of being able to speak multiple languages.
The effect is compounded if there is a sense of urgency to learning the language. For example, if you know you need to relocate to another country in a few months’ time, you will probably try your best to pick up the language there before you make the big move.
2. Prior knowledge and experience
There’s scientific backing to show that people who already know two or more languages are better language learners. That’s because you’re more attuned to the possible differences between languages. And the language you currently know has an effect as well.
If the foreign language you’re learning is similar to an existing language in your repertoire, you might find it easier to pick up the new language – however, the similarities may also make you more prone to mix-ups!
3. Teaching strategy and style
How your Chinese language teacher conducts the classes, and how you learn as a student, makes a difference. The key is to find a match between the teaching style and learning preferences.
Different schools and teachers employ varying methods – some are more textbook-based, while some are more immersive. For the quickest and most natural learning, immersive experiences are the best, although this is often not feasible for busy working professionals.
A popular theory in linguistics is the ‘critical period hypothesis’, which perpetuated the idea that there is an age limit at which our brain’s language learning mechanism drastically slows down. Thus, it is widely believed that children have an advantage in learning languages.
However, there is no firm evidence confirming this yet, and many adults continue to prove otherwise! In fact, adults may have an advantage as they are more able to use their existing language knowledge to learn the new language.
Surely, you can see that talent is not the be-all and end-all for language learning! Factors like your motivation and teacher are within your control, and you can use them to vastly improve your chances of mastering the language.
If Mandarin Chinese is the language you want to learn, it’s time to be on the lookout for Mandarin courses in Singapore to help you. Many course providers offer free trial classes at which you can determine if the class is the right fit for your learning needs and preferences. Step on the road to Chinese fluency today!