Learning languages can be a daunting challenge. Many have tried and failed. But let me assure you, with a good strategy, you’ll definitely succeed. These tips for learning a new language will get you started on the right path to fluency.
Everybody can learn a language. We’ve all done it at least once in our lives. Our native language had to be learned. You don’t need talent or skill. You just need motivation and dedication. With a positive mindset, you can achieve foreign language proficiency in no time.
1. Spend Time Learning a Language
There’s no magic method to learn a new language in 5 minutes. Every language requires at least a few months of dedicated work. But that doesn’t mean that work can’t be fun. Before you begin, you need to understand how long it will take.
Easy languages don’t exist. But you can choose a target language that’s closely related to your native language. That will give you an advantage and speed up your language learning. A close language to English, for example, could be German. Similar sentence structures and vocabulary make it an ideal choice for English natives.
It takes months of work to reach fluency. It’s crucial to have a goal before you start. Are you learning to speak to locals comfortably? Or do you want to read books in your target language? Whatever your wishes, you need clear goals to set a strategy.
Make sure you have a plan for your studies. Incorporating language learning into your routine can fast track your road to fluency. Whether you’re learning from a teacher, a book, or an app, make sure you’re always heading for your goal.
2. Focus on Fluency Over Accuracy
There is a difference between being fluent and being accurate:
- Being fluent means you can articulate how you feel, speaking smoother in real-time.
- Being accurate means being grammatically correct, speaking haltingly and with many filters.
While you want to be as accurate as possible, it is more important to start speaking fluently. Just as you learned to read and picked up speed when you were a child, you need to quickly graduate from speaking for accuracy and move to speaking with emotion and feeling in a way that is easier to relate.
Language is a communication tool first. And mistakes are inevitable even in your native language. It’s perfectly fine. Learn from your mistakes and fix it next time.
Yes, you will be very self-conscious speaking in a foreign language but don’t sacrifice opportunities because you don’t think your skills are good enough. One of the best things you can do is learn colloquialism and expressions. Native speakers of the language will definitely understand you better, even if you make a few mistakes.
3. Repeat Language Lessons – Don’t Cram
We’ve all done it – cramming. Sure, this may work in school (especially if it’s a subject you don’t like), but when learning a language, it never works. Not if you actually want to learn the language.
The best way to commit information to your long term memory is by using the Spaced Repetition System. This is one of the scientifically proven tips for learning a new language. It’s based on the fact that your brain is trying to forget.
Instead of trying to commit material to your long term memory instantly, space out your lessons. Leave a bit of time for your brain to process everything. Then come back to revisit and affirm your knowledge. Repetition is what helps the brain to grow and retain.
Flashcards and apps are a great way to do this. There are apps that will gauge how well you’ve learned the vocabulary for the day, and will review the words that troubled you. Tomorrow, the app will bring up the same words, with the difficult ones appearing more often. This reinforces what you learned.
4. Partner Up with a Native Speaker
The best thing you can do to become fluent is to find someone who speaks the language fluently and partner with them. Asking for help is a mature thing to do. And you are far more likely to learn when you speak with someone who knows the language.
Remember, language is a communication tool. It requires another party to actually work.
You can also find someone else learning the language. By partnering with another student, you can help each other through swapping tips and tools. Of course, you will also feel more comfortable with your less than fluent speaking ability.
5. Don’t Give Up on Your Dream
Out of all the tips for learning a new language, this one is the most important. Giving up because you feel like you’re making too many mistakes is the biggest mistake you can make. No one is perfect. You will make mistakes, and that is ok. They’re an incredibly important part of that process. As long as you learn from your errors, you’re progressing in your language learning. Embrace them, and don’t let them discourage you.
Take criticisms and critiques for what they are – a tool to help improve what you know. Yes. You’ll feel a bit foolish, but it’s not something to beat yourself up for doing.
If you have the chance to work with someone, ask them to correct you. Ask what was wrong and what you should have done differently. Analyze the response and incorporate it into your lessons. If nothing else, the mistake will definitely help you remember the right way to do it.
These tips won’t magically make learning a new language easier. It’s a long process, and it requires determination and dedication. But, if you understand that everyone who’s studying a foreign language goes through the same process as you, perhaps you’ll be motivated to keep going.