Learning a second, or third, language is a challenge that can be very rewarding. It's something that is fun and practical to learn; just think about how easy it would be to travel to a foreign country and be able to read the signs, or ask for directions!
Not to mention there was a 2013 study published in the Neurology Journal, from the American Academy of Neurology, that showed a relationship between bilingualism and delayed onset of dementia and its subtypes.
In any case, there are only benefits to learning another language, and really no detriments. You can take classes at a formal institution, such as in schools or universities, or opt for more casual community classes or online courses. Self-study can also be a valid option as well, although you would ideally want a native speaker to be able to assist you with pronunciation and fluency as you practise. It's not just about words; becoming fluent in a language means grasping the subtle nuances — words and sentences can change meaning depending on context — and cultural factors that affect translation.
Luckily for us, Australia (and by extension, Sydney) is a very multicultural society, where opportunities to learn a language other than English are plentiful. Whether you're looking for European languages, like French and Italian, or Asian languages like Chinese and Japanese, there are colleges and courses that can help you get started.
La Lingua Level 6, 127 Liverpool Street, Sydney NSW 2000
La Lingua primarily caters towards overseas pupils coming to Australia and wanting to learn English, but they also offer an extensive range of 8-week LOTE (Languages Other Than English) courses. These include: Japanese, Spanish, Mandarin, French, Korean, Portuguese, and Italian; with a focus on practical, everyday skills, and a lot of conversation practice.
You'll also get to attend their regular Language Exchange Meet Ups, where native speakers of all languages come together to practise their skills in active conversations with each other. It's a chance to practise outside of a formal classroom setting, and interact with your peers in a casual, relaxed environment.
The Japan Foundation Sydney is the Sydney branch of a public organisation first established in Tokyo in 1972. It is dedicated to cultural and intellectual exchanges between Japan and other nations, and to foster mutual understanding and peace. It first arrived in Sydney in 1988.
Active conversation practice with peers and teacher; Image from jcourse.org.au.
Its Japanese language courses range from intensive seminars, to cultural workshops, through to courses dedicated to students looking to pass the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test). Japanese teachers can also find helpful resources to use in their own lessons, and have access to online forums and networks designed to facilitate better teaching and learning experiences.
The benefit of these classes are their immersive-style teaching. All classes are primarily conducted in Japanese, to develop your communication and comprehension skills, and covers the vital elements of reading, writing, speaking, and listening through active participation. Cultural workshops include learning Japanese table etiquette, how to make traditional sushi, and Japanese papercraft; these all have a language-focus as well.
In fact, you'll probably find that programs set up by official organisations, such as embassies and governments, are the places to go for the best learning experience. Examples include Cervantes Sydney, an institution founded by the Government of Spain in 1991; and Alliance Française de Sydney, established in 1899, and part of an immense network of 819 such organisations across 137 countries.
TAFE Courses TAFE NSW – Sydney Institute Information Centre, 827-839 George Street, Sydney
Phone: 1300 360 601 Email
TAFE, of course, is always an option. It's flexible, varied, and opens up a lot of doors upon completion, including entry into higher education, and other career paths. Beginners level language courses they offer include: French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish; they also have a range of Business-related language courses for Arabic, Korean, Italian, and French.
The best thing about TAFE courses is that you come out of it with a formal qualification. You can take your certificate and use it to apply for other programs, such as Interpreting and Translating, which will help you build a career in LOTE, if you wish. These courses are all face-to-face, so you'll get the benefit of classroom resources and direction interaction with qualified staff and industry partners.
USyd, of course, has a huge range of 15-week classes. You don't need to be studying a degree to enrol in these courses, they're all open to the public. The extensive list of streams include, but are not limited to: Chinese (and Culture), Aboriginal Culture, Russian, Hindi, Polish, Turkish, Vietnamese, and both Modern and Classic Greek. See the website for a full list.
One great thing about these courses (and other university-affiliated courses) is that they have access to all the resources used by the university itself. You'll get all the most up-to-date information and experienced teachers, without having to attend university full-time. Best of all, these classes are held in the evening, so it won't disrupt your day at work.
There are so many sites that can help you learn and practise a second language. It really depends on what language you want to learn, and what aspect of language learning you want to focus on. A lot of them require you to pay a registration fee, but there are some that offer their services for free as well.
When I was studying for the JLPT, I used iKnow! to practise my translation, comprehension, and vocabulary. It is an interactive program that saves your progress and analyses your results, keeping you practising until you have perfected the module. It's very much a rote-based learning program, based on repetition, but it switches up the way it presents each question, and prioritises those that you have trouble with, until you get them right. Set your own goals and schedules, and they will remind you to stick to it. You can use this on your computer, your phone, or any other smart device or tablet.
iKnow focuses on Japanese, Chinese, and English SATs. Prices are calculated in Yen, but the program is available globally.
Duolingo is great for those who are looking to study languages European languages, such as French, German, and Italian. It's a free program that helps track your progress once you've created a profile (you can do this via Facebook or Google ), and set your own learning goals. You can also use it casually, without signing in, in which case you would lose all your progress every time you leave.
Of course, everyone learns differently. Some people learn best in a face-to-face, interactive environment, while others benefit more from studying by themselves. It's all about picking which one is right for you, and your learning style.
My own language learning experience is limited to Asian languages - Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean to be exact; and two of them I learned by speaking at home - so if anyone has tips for learning any others, please let us know in the comments!
lucky to be exposed to multilingualism. I studied French at high school which made it easy for me to pick up Spanish (i went and lived in Colombia)then Portuguese came along so easily as it's so similar to Spanish I have developed many methods but the most efficient one is to pick a gfavourite movie and start watching with subtitle of the language of your choice