How to Easily Teach Yourself a New Language
We all have busy lives. Work, friends, family, and hobbies pull us in all different directions. So when you decide to take on a foreign language learning program, then you probably don’t want it to create more stress and problems. It turns out that it’s possible to become fluent in your target language without a lot effort. These 10 tricks will show you how to teach yourself a language easily.
1. Create a Language Learning Plan
You need to have a good plan. It doesn’t have to be incredibly detailed. It just needs to be a rough outline of how much you want to study and how often you want to study. However, the more specifics you add to the plan, the better prepared you will be to succeed. Knowing how to teach yourself a language rests on this crucial first step.
The best way to do this is to find an existing program that will work for you and then adapt it to fit your schedule. Once you’re familiar with how the program works, you can schedule sessions around your day. This will save you time and a lot of headaches in the future.
2. Copy Others
Don’t reinvent the wheel. There are plenty of methods and programs out there that will suit your learning needs. Trying to go your own way is probably not the best strategy. Look around and see what other people are doing and what works for them. Understanding how other people learn languages will allow you to avoid common mistakes.
3. Remove Distractions
Nothing interferes with learning more than distractions. And smartphones are the worst culprits. But social media, emails, and even a few cat videos on YouTube can also turn a focused, fruitful few minutes into a grind that leaves you frustrated and annoyed.
It’s an adjustment at first, learning to shut out distractions, but like anything, you’ll get better at it over time. And the best benefit, you’ll be able to focus and take away much more from a short study session than you would from hours of distracted attempts.
4. Prime Your Brain
If you’ve ever tried to start a lawnmower without using it for a while, you know it can be a pain. Often, you need to push that little button on the side to prime the engine. The same goes for your brain. When you’re on your way to learning something new, one of the best first steps is to immerse yourself in it. If you were going to start a German language program, then you should read, listen to music, and even watch films all in German before you even started.
You don’t need to know what they’re saying. You only need exposure. It may seem too easy, but as you focus on your target language, you’ll grow familiar with it. And it will begin to sound less like random noise and more like a language. Then when you start your language lessons, you’ll already have some familiarity with it.
5. Be Consistent
The more consistent you are with your studies, the easier it will be. Using the information stored in your brain can be tedious at first. The more you use it, however, the easier it becomes. By setting a regular time every day to study, you’ll acclimate to a routine. And this will allow you to slip comfortably into regular study. Learning a new language takes time, but it’s worth it.
6. Build Your Endurance
Learning not only takes time and patience, but it also takes endurance. Don’t overdo it. When it comes to studying your target language, start with short lessons, 15 or 30 minutes at first to acclimate to the new challenge. As the weeks go by, keep adding on time until your lessons are an hour long. Only when you’re comfortable with longer lessons should you increase the time, but only if you want to. Never force it. This allows your brain to adjust to the increased demand while preventing burnout. Spending enough time on your lessons is what assures you know how to teach yourself a language.
7. Develop the Right Mindset
If you want your language lessons to feel effortless, then you need the right mindset. Your mind can work with you or against you. Whether you’re enthusiastic about learning a new language or dreading it, remember that you ultimately control your experience.
Replace “have to” and “need to” with “want to” when thinking about your language lessons. There’s a reason time flies when you’re enjoying what you love. It’s because we want to be doing it. The same is true for language learning. If you approach it with the same zeal you do for the other things you enjoy in life, studying will be a breeze.
8. Use Comprehensible Input
Starting with complex lessons first could quickly end your language learning enthusiasm. Comprehensible input is fun because it focuses on context instead of grammar. Don’t like those troubling grammatical concepts? Skip them. Hate verb conjugation? Avoid it. In the beginning, you need a lot of small successes to build upon for future ones. Don’t worry about making it too challenging, especially at first. You’ll already have plenty of difficulties to overcome in the beginning. Don’t make teaching yourself a language harder than it needs to be.
Instead, pick lessons that are challenging enough to push you to learn, but not too difficult to where you have no idea what’s being discussed. Keep increasing the difficulty, but always make sure that you still have a general idea about what you’re learning. Only when you’re ready, should you pursue more difficult aspects of the language.
9. Chunk Information
There’s a lot of new information to cover when you first start out learning a foreign language. With all the new vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar, it can seem like too big of a task to accomplish. This is where a learning strategy called chunking can help. Chunking is taking a massive project and then breaking it down into smaller pieces.
Rather than focusing on the whole project, you focus on the little bit you need to do each day to reach your goal. When you reach that goal, you focus on another chunk, and so and so on. Your brain works better with smaller pieces. It can organize, process, and remember them better.
10. Use the Method that Suits You
You need to pick a strategy that suits you. If drilling with flashcards works for you, then do that. If you’d rather listen to songs and watch movies, do that instead. And if you are more interested in reading, then go for it. You need to pick strategies that you enjoy. If you hate the method you’re using, that frustration will interfere with developing fluency.
Remember: Teaching Yourself a Language Involves Work
Unfortunately, you can’t learn a foreign language while you sleep. You’ll have to study and put in the time to reach that goal. But work doesn’t need to feel like work. It’s still possible to enjoy what you’re doing and walk away from your language lessons feeling confident and refreshed. Now that you know how to teach yourself a language, you can easily start to incorporate these changes in your life. Reach fluency by yourself.