There are lots of opportunities in Ireland and across Europe if you can speak foreign languages. The most in-demand, and a result best paid, languages across all sectors are German, French, Dutch, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Mandarin Chinese and Japanese.
I am from Japan, speak fluent English and am currently learning French and German. When learning a new language, you’ll make mistakes, but if you keep going, you’ll see progress.
Here are three key things that have helped me when learning a new language:
1. Have a goal
You need to have a specific goal to motivate yourself to keep learning any new language. Being interested in the language and culture is great, but on its own, it won’t be enough.
I was really fascinated by the beautiful French language, but I failed to learn it because I didn’t set myself any goal or have a vision of what I wanted to do with French.
With German, I set a goal and I’m seeing much better progress. I’d like to be able to speak to my German candidates, so this has given me the motivation I need to keep learning. Setting small KPIs is also useful to measure your achievements, for example, completing 3 topics per week on Babbel App, etc.
2. Force yourself to speak the language
I started learning English when I was 10 years old in Japan and always did well in school. However, when I came to Ireland, I couldn’t hold a conversation.
This was because learning a language as a subject and using language to communicate are two completely different things. As a subject, you cannot make any spelling or grammar mistakes but when speaking, the most important thing is you can exchange information with each other.
After 3 months in Ireland, my English improved a lot and I learned more in that time than during the 15 years I was studying in Japan. Now, when I visit German-speaking regions, I always try to speak only German in restaurants, shops, and taxis. This way I’m learning and improving my conversation skills all the time.
3. Be happy with imperfection
Languages take time to learn. Don’t be afraid to practice out of a fear of making mistakes, this is how you’ll improve and be able to actually speak the language.
Once you start learning, use the language and enjoy it. Don’t look for perfection, because that could take years. Relaxing and enjoying the process really is the key to keep your brain engaged and interested.
If you are happy to just understand the big picture, even though you might not understand a lot of words in the sentence, you’ll pick up your desired language a lot better.
If you’re thinking of learning a new language or want to improve a language, implement the 3 above tips. Learning a new language is a process but it is possible and could be the next step for you for a new career in Ireland or abroad.