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Written by Beatriz “Bia” De Souza, ’24

Submitted by Beatriz “Bia” De Souza, ’24 

Learning a second language has always been part of my life. My mother language is Portuguese, but I started learning English at a really young age. My parents always understood the importance of knowing how to speak English, so they put me to study in a bilingual school during kindergarten. Because of that, I learned so many words both in Portuguese and English simultaneously, which helped me keep learning the language faster in the years to come. In this blog post, I want to give you a few tips on learning a new language that helped me over the years. Especially because a few years after finishing learning English, I started learning French, so I am still putting these tips into practice, and let me tell you that they do indeed help a lot!

When I started elementary school, I kept on studying English at an English school before I went to elementary school. So here comes my first tip: Have a teacher. I know that Duolingo is a big thing now, and I think it can be a good option to help you practice. But to learn a language, I would 100% recommend finding a teacher.

While still studying English, and even after I finished my classes, I always read books and watched movies and TV shows in English. Taking in media that is in the language you are learning is a great way to keep your brain getting used to the language, and you can learn so much of the jargon and idioms that you would probably not learn in the classroom. 

One last tip. Something that I have done and that I always recommend people to do as well is this: do not translate! Try your best to think in the language you are speaking. If you keep translating the sentence you want to say in your brain before speaking, you will take so much longer to improve. I know it sounds impossible, but with practice, it becomes easier and easier.

I know I got an early start on learning English, but these tips are helping me as I am now learning French, which I started much later in my life. If you want to move to another country someday, or you are getting to know someone from another country and want to communicate with them in their mother language, or if you want to study abroad in a country with a different language, then by practicing these tips (and the language itself, of course), you will get there faster than you realize! It's difficult, but it isn't impossible. Speaking from experience, it opens a world of possibilities for you.