We all remember the dread of language classes in school.
Conveniently choosing to remember only a few words and phrases to get your language teacher off your back. Then forgetting everything immediately once the course was complete.
Who remembers their Spanish basics 101? Not, me.
Learning Nepali Language can spark similar fears in you.
With original roots from Sanskrit attempting Nepali language can be a challenge, especially for those learners whose native language did originate from the same source.
When attempting to learning a new language like Nepali, the question of “Will I be able to remember and understand all of this?” appears on one’s mind and with good reason.
Learning any language can be a taxing ordeal, since the brain needs to establish new cognitive frameworks to help you understand it.
No wonder so many of us quit halfway.
But, does learning Nepali language always have to be this challenging?
No, not if you do it the right way.
If you are traveling to Nepal, dating a Nepali partner or thinking about learning a new language, learning Nepali is a great choice.
A new language opens up many avenues for a person, it expands their world, gives them a different perspective and helps establish great interpersonal relationship.
Listed below are 7 ways that guarantee to a smoothen your Nepali learning experience for you. Some of them may seem too obvious, but all of them will leave you learning the language faster.
1. Use The Theory Of Marginal Improvement
In life you come across or hear of great achievers, people who hold many titles, and are multilingual.
How did they do it?
According to Stephen Duneier, a professional investment manager, Guiness World Record holder and multilingual lecturer, you do it by practicing theory of marginal improvement.
Mr Duneier used his 30 minutes of free commute time to learn fluent German. He used the theory of Marginal Improvement i.e focus on making little improvements to improve overall performance.
Instead of getting scared about the amount of learning he needed to do, he divided his work into actionable steps and achieved them.
He started with filling his ipod with language tapes and listening to them repeatedly, using repetition to make the information stick. Then, he went on to enroll in an intensive language program in Berlin to perfect the language.
Each day in the commute he would either focus on learning new words, phrases or repetitions. His intentions were to make marginal adjustments to his daily routine and make the language. Then, focus on making marginal improvement i.e. 1% improvements every time he was learning.
This helped him focus on the task at hand and not overwhelm him with how much he was left to study. This way of learning is measurable as he could accurately gauge how much improvement he had made.
Today, he can speak the language fluently and as a native German.
Now, Let’s use the same principle of marginal improvement to learn the Nepali language:
Divide the taxing work of learning a language into smaller sections.
Start learning commonly used phrases and words first.
Try to use at least one or two new words everyday, work it into your conversations to consolidate the words. Focus on making that 1% improvement by adding new phrases and words everyday.
Dividing the learning load and starting off with common words/ phrases first will do two things:
First, it will give you confidence in speaking with locals using common phrases. Second, as you learn frequently used words faster, it becomes easier to understand the context behind a conversation.
2. Make A Priority List
Once you have decided on using marginal improvement theory, it is time to make a priority list on what aspects of the language do you want to tackle first.
The most common route people take is studying the more commonly used phrases first. Then, cementing these words and progressively going through the more difficult aspects of the language later.
Nepali language is heavily embodied by social cultural aspects.
In the English language the pronouns you use are the same regardless of the person’s age or socio-economic class. In the Nepali language cultural factors matter, for example: different tones and pronouns are used to speak to someone who is older or younger to you.
There are complexities to this language and it could be something you can choose to learn once you have mastered the basic pronouns, vowels, consonants and phrases first.
3. Know Who You Are Speaking To
Nepal is a diverse country and the way Nepali is spoken in different regions may vary. The most important distinction you need to make in this case is who you are speaking to.
If your intention is to communicate with the urban nepalese who have settled in around Kathmandu Valley, you may encounter speakers who speak in a combination i.e Nepali + English or fondly named as Neplish.
If you know English, communicating with these people will be easy and the use of english words in between conversations will help you give better context of what is being spoken.
When interacting with people from outside the valley or rural parts of Nepal, it might be difficult to hold a conversation with broken Nepali. Understanding the differences in how these people sound, their words, local slangs and tones will be helpful.
As a learner of Nepali language, it is important to establish why you are choosing to learn the language and who you plan to converse with. This understanding helps you determine how and what you should be learning.
4. What Is Your Intention Behind Studying The Language?
Do you want to learn Nepali to have a conversation with new friends or family? Or to give you an advantage at work?
Whatever the case maybe understanding your intentions behind why you want to learn Nepali can help you figure out HOW you want to learn it.
For example : If your reason to learn Nepali is to have conversations with friends, learning Nepali slangs and more casual form of the language is enough.
If you are learning it for professional use, expanding your vocabulary, knowing certain work-related terms and understanding the professional tone when speaking is important.
Additionally, when you know why you are learning the language it will help you pick up on the non-verbal communicators that people in Nepal use all the time. In friendly conversations these communicators are more relaxed as opposed to more professional exchanges.
5. Gather Up Conventional & Unconventional Resources
The conventional resources would be Nepali language books, dictionary, and audio tapes. Flash cards are also crucial because they help you remember words and phrases through repetition.
But, in order to accelerate your Nepali learning introducing unconventional learning resources will give you an added advantage.
Using unconventional forms of resources such as movies and songs should be the second part of your learning. Usually these activities are passive and expecting to learn the entire language with just these resources can be a bit of a stretch.
But after knowing 50% of the material using these unconventional resources have few advantages:
- Helps you consolidate what you have already learnt.
- Motivates you to learn faster as you will know what you will sound like if you have a grip of the language.
- You will be able to notice how native speakers sound, how some words and phrases are often cropped or spoken faster than others.
6. Practice Makes Perfect
In the movie Eat Pray Love Julia Roberts learns Italian with the help of her new friends in Rome. By the end of her trip she was fluent enough to order an entire meal. The movie displayed a very appropriate example of how language needs to be learnt, through exchanges and practice.
There are a number of reasons why speaking Nepali with others prove to be effective.
When you learn by speaking, you are not simply waiting for your class or designated time to understand the language. You will be using the language at any given time making you think quick on your feet.
Second, your peers may be able to correct your mistakes, this is a big one. These people you interact with will help you learn Nepali in an authentic and natural form as opposed to a textbook.
Additionally, practicing a language regularly cements whatever who have learnt.
Although the idea of speaking a relatively foreign language can have you sweating with worry you have to do it. The first tries maybe the most difficult but when you realize people do not really care if you make a mistake, things get a lot easier.
7. Set Your Expectations Realistically
The reason why most people quit learning Nepali is because they have unrealistic expectations of the learning process.
There are stages of learning, the textbooks and audio recordings will teach you about the whys of the language – why certain pronouns are used and why the sentence is structured the way it is.
But this won’t necessarily give you the natural flow that the locals have, this usually comes with understanding the tonality, non-verbal cues and more.
To attain these you must not just learn the Nepali language but live it which only comes with practice.