AJUWAYA ON LANGUAGE Learning I

How to Learn a New Language in About Six Months

As a corps member in a new town or geopolitical zone as we have them here, one of the things you may find new is the language of you host community.

If you didn’t have the privilege of being a polyglot (in terms of Nigerian languages) this single new thing may be a challenge during your service year. When you are posted to the city or the heart of the state, It is possible you can go on with the national lingua franca- English-but if you get posted to the rural areas which happens often, you know you may have a hard time communicating with the locals without a minimum command of the “dominant” local language. The word dominant is important here and stands for the local language that is mostly used in the area or town you have been posted to.

The purpose of this post is not just to stir up the desire to learn a new language but to also share with you some tips that will help you go from beginner to proficient in any language that you choose to learn in as short a time as six months. This means that before the end of your second month of service you should be able to hold simple conversations in the language dominant in your host community. The only thing you need is to be interested in learning it. You may be asking yourself, ‘why should I care? Here are reasons you should:

How to Learn New Languages easily
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  1. It will enable you communicate freely with other people in your host community.
  2. It will give you command of a language outside your mother tongue
  3. You will be able to  appreciate the culture and traditions of  the host community better
  4. If you intend to start a business in the area, your command of the language will most likely be an ally in success 

**The fact that you can learn the language in as short as your first six months is worth exploring.**

Here’s how this worked for me: in January 2017, I was posted to Plateau state for my NYSC. Despite my years of study in Benue state, I had no interest or exposure in Hausa language because that was not the lingua franca in Benue state as the majority of the people spoke Tiv and the others spoke either Idoma or Igede or  other less popular languages. But, when I got to Jos, Plateau state after my camping I thought of acquiring a new language and the Hausa language was the one generally used here so it became my language of choice for the reasons that has been enumerated above. With the help of the principles you will find in this post, I became so fluent in the language that by my sixth month in the state when I go to my PPA and communicated in Hausa people asked whether I was raised in the north.

I could make purchases, hold conversations etc. in Hausa language. Today, about three years later with no extra practice or effort, I still speak the language. Here is the thing with language learning, it usually sticks. Let’s, dive into how you can become fluent in any language within your first six months of exposure. 

Wait, before then, here’s a disclaimer: it takes effort to pull this feat off. Do not assume that because you are in a location and hear lots of people speak the language you will automatically get it. In fact, you will be shocked at the disappointment that will follow because it will become a situation of having a bunch of adults speaking over your head and that can even cause you some level of discomfort, if not irritation.

How to Learn a new language as a corper

We will continue this topic in the next part. In the second part of the post you will get to know the key actions that will lead you to successfully learn a new language in six months.