Tips for Learning a New Language

When you’re learning a second or third language, vocabulary is often taught as a combination of lists of words and exposure to the language through texts and conversations. However, beyond the first few hundred words, vocabulary is learnt better through exposure to the language, such as speaking or reading in the language. Experts say that to be able to speak a language well you need a vocabulary of 2500 words, so this takes quite a lot of exposure! 

The most popular second language in Canada, spoken in both business and leisure contexts, is French. French is also the primary language of several cities and states, and is one of the national languages of Canada. If you’d like to learn more about Canadian French, see our comparison between European and Canadian French (link to other blog). 

The difference between learning English and a second language in Canada is that levels of exposure to English are generally much higher – we are exposed to English in books, TV, Hollywood movies, international music and in most everyday situations. This is not the case with most second languages, which is part of the reason why learning them is often a much more lengthy process. However, there are ways that you can get around this!


Here are a few tips and tricks to increase your exposure to a second language:

  • Read magazines or online articles in the target language – in topics that interest you!
  • Read books in the target language, again on topics that interest you
  • Watch movies and series in the target language
  • Watch YouTube videos – music, cartoons, short movies, anything!
  • Read cartoons and comics in the target language
  • Listen to music in the target language
  • Speak to people in the target language


A few ways to aid learning another include:

  • Learning lists of words by saying them out aloud – limit this though, as it quickly becomes repetitive
  • Sticking labels or post-its on everyday objects
  • When reading, look up any new words in a bilingual dictionary or on Google translate. (Keep in mind that Google translate can be inaccurate for full sentences, but is great for single-word translations)
  • Practice breaking up words into smaller, more understandable parts – many words are a combination of several smaller words. Learn to identify these to help you understand new words more easily
  • Use language-learning software to make learning fun and accessible wherever you are. This can be a program you buy online, or an app on your phone


After you’ve learned the basics of the language, you can challenge yourself to improve even more by:

  • Study synonym pairs to quickly enhance your vocabulary
  • Study prefixes and suffixes for the same reason
  • Keep a diary in the target language
  • Learn a word of the day


Another important part of learning a second language is having the confidence to speak it, even if you make mistakes. There are a few things you can do to help you with this:

  • Learn phrases you can use in everyday conversation to quickly spark small talk
  • Practice your listening with casual conversations, asking people about their day, and listening exercises
  • Remember that you don’t need to speak the language perfectly to converse – you can ask for help at any point, or slip in an English word if they’re unsure of the right one in your target language
  • Make learning fun, rather than scary! Play games in the language, and build on what you already know
  • Repeat topics of conversation until you get comfortable discussing them
  • Remember that it will get easier, the more they practice. And practice make sure you practice!


As with anything else, learning a language takes time. Remember to make it fun and engaging, and to celebrate your small victories.


Written by Tessa Cooper, BrightSparkz Staff & Blog Writer

The Benefits of Learning Another Language

Learning local languages can benefit brain and social development

While the prospect of learning another language may be daunting, especially if you struggled to get decent grades for your mother tongue at school, there are many good reasons to do so. Canadians may be at an advantage in this regard compared to many other nations, as most Canadians speak at least two languages, and often more.

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Here are some compelling reasons to learn another language:

1. Massive benefits for your brain:

  • Knowing another language protects your brain against aging and can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia by around 4.5 years.
  • This is true even if an individual is illiterate but can speak another language.
  • Research reveals that the more languages you know, the less likely you are to experience memory loss or cognitive decline later in life.
  • Being bilingual or multilingual enhances your ability to multi-task (as you are thinking in different languages) which reduces stress.
  • Research has also shown that knowledge of other languages improves decision making ability and helps you become a better listener.
  • For children, or anyone involved in studying, knowledge of another language improves academic performance in other areas such as Maths, reading, comprehension and vocabulary tests.

2. Social and financial benefits:

  • You will enhance your travel experience in foreign countries, being able to order food and know what you’re eating and get a more complete experience of the culture. Being able to fit in like more of a local, you’re less likely to be scammed and harassed as a tourist.
  • You will be able to make deeper connections and form deeper friendships with those of other cultures and they will respect you more just for attempting to speak their language.
  • You will increase your job opportunities – with business becoming more global, it will be to your advantage to learn another language and may lead to better paying jobs.

3. Benefits of learning a local language:

  • While it may seem fun and romantic to learn German or Italian, you will probably only get to use that knowledge if you travel there or move to that country. Of course, the cognitive benefits apply to any language you learn.
  • Learning a local language like Canadian French will benefit you in your own country as you will be able to understand and converse with many more of your countrymen.
  • Speaking to someone in their own language earns you respect – even if your accent is strange! Speaking a local language instantly breaks down barriers to communication. Nelson Mandela is believed to have said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”.

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BrightSparkz Tutors offers a unique concept of online Language Boot Camps. These are appropriate for both school-age learners and adult beginners, ad are conducted online, in your own time and space. This is a fun and effective way of learning the basics of a new language and it removes the fear and resistance that many people feel when learning a new language.


This article first appeared on, and was written by Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Staff & Blog Writer