We live in an increasingly connected world, thanks to globalization and advancements in communication and information technologies. Cross-cultural business and social interactions are becoming a norm around the world. This only increases the importance of learning a new language because language is a window into a culture. While childhood is the ideal time to learn a new language, it doesn’t mean one cannot learn a new language later in life. Life any other skill, learning a language requires planning and discipline. Some of the steps required to learn a new language include setting goals, developing plans, learning basics, building vocabulary, becoming comfortable with native accent, and keep practicing.

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The first step to learning a new language is to set goals. The goals should be specific and also realistic. The goals can be broken down into individual steps so that it is easy to follow them and one can also keep track of his/her progress 1. The next step is to develop a plan to achieve the goals. Before one develops the plan, it is important to be aware of one’s learning style. While certain strategies may be useful to everyone learning a new language, different individuals can take different path towards starting the journey. For example, some are more comfortable with podcast and language labs. Other may prefer using textbooks 2. One can also use multiple methods such as using textbook as well as getting tuition from a native speaker but the bottom line is that one should learn the basics through the method/s that suit his/her learning style best.

Once one has mastered the basics, the next goal is to build some vocabulary 3. Vocabulary can be built in several ways. One may be to make a goal of learning a certain number of new words every day. Another is to read books in the language one is learning to come across words that are often used by native speakers. One can even start with children books since they often focus on familiar words 4.

The next step is to get comfortable with different accents because one’s ability to engage in verbal communication also depends upon one’s comfort with native or different regional accents. One method is to engage in conversation with native speakers. One should not hesitate to ask about new words he may come across with during the conversation and can even make a list of words he/she comes across during conversation. The communication process may be slow for new learners but they should avoid the temptation to speak in their own language when they cannot construct a sentence in the language they are learning. One can also listen to music, watch TV and movies in the language one is learning, to become used to accent of native speakers 5.

Even when one has learnt the basics and has become comfortable with native accent, he/she should never stop practicing. There is almost no skill that can be improved or mastered without practice and that is true of learning a language, too. Many learners fear embarrassment but it is important to overcome fear of embarrassment. Even if one is not comfortable with his/her language skills, he/she still hold conversations in the new language as much as possible.

The importance of language cannot be overstated in a world which is increasingly being shaped by forces of globalization and advanced communication technologies. Language skills do not only enhance one’s personal experiences but also broaden access to professional opportunities. Like any skill, learning a language requires a proper plan and a disciplined approach.