This post might be useful if youâ€™re learning a foreign language. Iâ€™ll write about how I learnt English.
The way I learnt English is simple. After I decided to go to university in Australia, I started studying English with enthusiasm. To be able to study philosophy in English, one must get really good at English. That was the case for me and served as a big motivator. It helps to be clear about how much (at least for now) you want to master the language youâ€™re studying. You may not want to read philosophy books in Japanese and just want to be able to have a decent conversation without the help of a dictionary; thatâ€™s totally fine as long as youâ€™re aware of that. Also, it helps if you have a meaningful motivation for learning that language. What makes it â€˜meaningfulâ€™ is totally up to you, but if you feel youâ€™re obliged to study the language because you need it to pass a school exam and you donâ€™t like it at all, youâ€™ll probably have a hard time in learning it.
There are two things that built the foundation for me in learning English.
Hereâ€™s the first one. I focused on getting my English pronunciations right as much as possible. I didnâ€™t aim for 100%, because you donâ€™t need to get everything right from the beginning. If you can pronounce the vowels and consonants in English, then youâ€™re more likely to understand whatâ€™s being said, at least to understand the phonetics of whatâ€™s being said if not the meaning. It helps to know whatâ€™s phonetically important in the language you want to learn as well. Tone, pitch, intonation, stress. I think itâ€™s fairly safe to imitate what you hear, though.
The second one is this. I read aloud English texts. Since almost every English learning book comes with a CD or two these days, I could read the texts aloud to the recording of those texts. That was pretty neat. In addition to reading aloud, I did this exercise recommended by a prominent Japanese interpreterâ€”reading aloud and writing down texts at the same time. Choose a page long text and do it for 3 pages per day. And do it for 3 months every day. Once youâ€™ve done that, your linguistic intuition for that language will be sharper.
Youâ€™ll probably have to study more if you want to master the language youâ€™re studying, but these approaches will get you a good foundation in going further.