You’ve probably heard it a million times already, but learning a new language can make you highly attractive to employers.
Bilingual people possess a number of valuable skills; such as the ability to multi-task, better communication in both languages, and improved cognitive ability.
Especially if you’re applying to multinational companies, those who know more than one language can also help deal with overseas partners, which for employers, dramatically reduces the cost of hiring extra employees.
An additional language is not only a great thing to put on your CV and cover letter, but also a way to stand out to potential employers, especially in today’s competitive graduate jobs market.
Even if you don’t have a lot of work experience to shout about, having a foreign language under your belt could be the deciding factor in a screening process.
Outside of work, learning a language can also open up a whole world of opportunities; enabling you to communicate with different people, live in a new country, and actually understand movies without subtitles.
Learning a language is easy for some people.
For others, it can be a difficult process that requires a lot of focus and dedication.
If you fall into the second category, don’t worry – here are 8 tips that will make it easier to learn a language.
How to learn a language
1. Find your motivation
Instead of picking a language because it’s widely spoken, it’s better if you have an interest in the language.
Maybe you like watching international movies, see yourself living abroad, or you want a job in a sector where the language is required or very much favoured.
For example, if you are interested in graduate jobs in finance, research the languages which are most commonly looked for in a job description.
This initial interest and passion will make you more motivated to learn the language and in return, it’ll make studying easier.
2. Set yourself goals
Once you choose a language, set yourself short-term goals (such as using IELTS test booking) and long-term goals (such as working overseas).
Make sure you write them down or make a memo on your phone so that you don’t forget them.
This will give you something to work towards and will make planning your study time easier since you know what you want to achieve by the end of a certain period.
Short-term goals can be simple such as learning 5 new sentences each week, whilst long-term goals can be being able to read a children’s book in a 4 months time.
However, don’t get too fixated on meeting these goals.
They serve as a guideline.
You might have a good month where you had enough time to meet all goals followed by another where you were busy working and had zero time to study.
If you feel you can’t meet the goals, then modify them.
3. Get a buddy
You can make the learning process easier by listening to others.
Listening is how we essentially learnt our native language, so it’s a great method to use when learning a second.
By finding a language partner (this can be a friend who is also learning the language, or even better, a native speaker).
That way you can practice your pronunciation, correct any mistakes you make and have a bit of fun at the same time.
4. Ditch the textbooks every now and then
Not a people person or have no one to practice with?
Then listen to music or watch movies/television shows with the subtitles on.
You’d be surprised at how efficiently you pick up short phrases and dialogue.
Plus, it also gives you a break from reading textbooks to learn a language, so you’re less likely to get burned out from studying.
5. Learn the rules
Now, don’t ditch the textbooks completely; since it’s good to know the rules behind the language instead of just being able to speak it from memory.
By knowing the rules, it makes it easier to learn the language because you can apply them as you learn more words and phrases.
For example, Spanish has different conjugation rules depending on the ending of the verb – but once you know the rules for the three main verb endings, you can use it for 99% of verbs you learn in the future.
Step out of your comfort zone and travel to a country where the language is spoken.
You can simply go on holiday or take a huge leap and study/work abroad for a couple of months which increases your chances of getting a job.
Find out more reasons why travelling after graduation can boost your career prospects.
This is a great way to learn about a different culture, try new cuisine and meet new people while practising your speaking and reading skills.
If you go for a long period of time, you’re forced to speak the language every day so it will drastically speed up the learning process.
Don’t worry about making mistakes in front of the locals either – they appreciate non-natives making the effort to learn their language.
Being able to study the language by speaking it on a daily basis will stimulate your brain to retain more information.
If you’re travelling to Florida, for instance, you can opt to stay in a vacation rental, which provides great proximity to the locals and comfort.
7. Put your revision material everywhere
You don’t need to practice the language at a dedicated time each day.
Having post-it notes in your bedroom mirror or a stack of note cards next to the toilet for you to read instead of going on your phone will go a long way.
Even though you’ll only spend a couple of minutes reading through the material, the words are still being absorbed and if you do it every day you’ll learn them in no time.
Take a look at other quick revision tips for students.
8. Practice makes perfect
You’ve heard the good old phrase practice makes perfect – and it really is true.
A lot of us struggle to learn a language, or it takes us longer than we expected due to lack of practice.
Dedicating 5 to 30 minutes a day to some light studying or setting yourself a goal of learning 5 new words a day adds up; and will help you get the graduate job of your dreams in the long run.
Speaking another language makes you a highly employable candidate; so whether you’re learning one from scratch or brushing up on your skills, there are ways to make it easier to learn a language.
Want to use your foreign language in your career? Check out the latest graduate jobs – or for more advice, check out our graduate blog.