As the world becomes more globalized, it has become important to know at least two languages. Besides opening up job opportunities, learning another language has incredible cognitive benefits, such as memory improvement and a reduced risk of age-related cognitive decline. Although it is easier to learn a second language as a child, you’re never too old to start learning. These six tips will help you go from flustered to fluent!

Do Your Homework

It might seem obvious, but there’s a reason you received homework throughout your school years - it’s helpful! Reading and writing in the new language will help you to develop the basic building blocks to help in future language mastery. With a solid foundation, you will be able to continue to push yourself in other areas of learning. If you prefer a structured learning environment, look into taking a class at a local college, browse the Internet for worksheets or free learning classes, or find a language curriculum such as Rosetta Stone. To make learning more exciting, try watching your favorite movies or listening to podcasts and music in that language; it won’t feel like learning and may be easier to fit into your schedule. There are also various language learning apps available, such as Duolingo, that allow you to progress to different levels of the language through short fun quizzes. The more you hear, read, and write the language, the more familiar it will feel.

Think In Terms of the Language

Reading materials and conversation opportunities are not always available - but your thoughts are always accessible. Whether you’re thinking about work, the weather, or what to wear, try thinking about in the new language. There’s power in teaching your brain to think in another language - the more you think in the new language, the more comfortable you will feel with that language when you begin speaking it. If you are living in a country where most people speak the new language, thinking in that language will help you be prepared if anyone strikes up a conversation in the new language.

Be Patient

Think about how long it took you to master your native language - years, right? You’ve been practicing that language ever since you learned how to walk, so give yourself a break as you’re trying to learn verb conjugations, pronunciations, and idioms in this new language. Patience with the learning process will allow your mind to feel comfortable making mistakes; the more mistakes you make, the more you’ll be able to learn from them, and the closer you’ll be to becoming fluent.

Spend Time With Native Speakers and Other Language Learners

Reading, writing, studying, and thinking the new language are all crucial in learning, but the importance of listening and speaking the new language cannot be overstated; after all, you must be able to converse in order to become fluent. To help with this, surround yourself with other people who speak the language or are also learning the language. Listening to fluent speakers in conversation will help you learn how to speak like a native as you hear their use of idioms and nuances that are difficult to learn from a book. If you don’t know any native speakers, consider finding a language exchange meet-up program, such as My Language Exchange, where you can converse with native speakers via text, email, voice chat, and in-person meetings. Spending time with others who know the language will make you feel more confident in your own language skills as you practice listening and speaking in a comfortable setting. You can also spend time with others who are learning the same language. You can learn from each other’s mistakes and encourage each other by creating goals together, such as committing to speaking only the new language when you spend time together. If you can, visit or move to the country where the new language is predominantly spoken; when you are fully immersed in the new language all of the time, you will be forced to learn it and you will learn it much faster.

Ask For Help

Once you befriend native speakers or others who are trying to learn the language, you have an easy place to turn to for help. In addition to asking these friends, you can always turn to the Internet. We live in a world where information is always at your fingertips; if you’re confused about a word, how to conjugate a verb, or you just want to double check a translation, you can ask all of your questions and find all of your answers on the Internet. This powerful help is completely free and is always available to you.

Never Give Up

Learning a language can be intimidating, confusing, and overwhelming. But if you study it, live it, be patient, learn alongside others, and ask for help, you will see that, little by little, it will get easier. Eventually, you will begin thinking in the language instead of translating everything in your head and before you know it, you’ll feel like a native speaker. Buena suerte, bonne chance, and good luck!