Straightforward Tips For Language Learning
You don’t need talent to learn a new language. You need hard work, discipline, and time to make it happen. But that doesn’t mean learning a language is a difficult process. These 8 tips will make language learning a fun and enjoyable experience.
Learning a language is quite straightforward. Everyone’s done it at least once in their lives: their native language. Learners of all ages are capable of acquiring a new language successfully. Having the confidence and motivation to learn is the first step. Everything afterward is simple.
1. The Best Time to Start – NOW
We all procrastinate. Whether it’s doing the dishes or starting a gym membership, we’ve all done it. But imagine how long have you had the dream of being bilingual. Probably years. The more you wait, the later you’ll achieve that dream.
There are countless benefits to being bilingual. Apart from being able to communicate in a different language, you also see reality in a different way. You get more career options. Increased pay. Cultural appreciation. And perhaps best of all, improved brain health. Speaking a second language enhances your memory and cognitive skills. It’s also been linked to decreased chances of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
So why not unlock all of these benefits as soon as possible? There’s no time like the present to improve your future.
2. If It’s a Habit, You Will Stick with It
Consider how much of a habit you have of getting up early for work or school. Often that habit bleeds over into the weekend, even if you don’t want it to. Eventually, habits are simply something you do without having to think about it.
Language learning is no different. Plan to make it part of your daily routine and it will simply be one more thing that you routinely do.
Here are a few tips you can use to make language learning part of your daily habit:
- Set aside a dedicated time every day. The two best times to learn a foreign language are the morning and evening.
- Use your target language vocabulary in everyday situations. Even thinking in a different language can reinforce that vocabulary.
- Post-its on your everyday items can help you remember your vocabulary quickly. By labeling everything in your kitchen with words from your target language, you’ll quickly learn the meaning of the word too.
- Start speaking from day one. Fluency is about practice. The more you try, the more success you’ll have with speaking out loud. You don’t have to say it aloud – just thinking in the language can go a long way to reinforcing your vocabulary.
- Make your learning experience interactive. Flashcards are only so effective. If you have interactive components to your daily learning, you are much more likely to keep coming back.
3. Music as a Soothing Reminder
Find songs you like in the language you are learning. You can listen to them over the course of the day when you can’t actively learn the language. This helps you learn the sounds, and over time you will start to recognize the words as well.
Don’t tune out the songs either. That means rotating the music list so that you do not get complacent. If you can get karaoke versions of songs you enjoy, that is even better. You don’t have to sing when others are around, just make sure you sing so that you can practice the sounds and structures that are part of the language.
4. Find a Language Similar to Your Own
This only applies if you have not already decided what language you want to learn. This is one of the best tips for learning a foreign language if you’re unsure about where you should start. Learning a language that is similar to your own will be easier. You’ll grasp the logic and pronunciation of the language quicker. And your vocabulary will comprise of more cognates than other languages.
For English native speakers, there are a few language options that are easier than others. German, French, Dutch, or Romanian are some of the Germanic and Romance languages that you could learn in record time.
5. It Takes Time – Don’t Rush and Don’t Give Up
There is a lot of excitement early on because you have this image of what you want out of the experience. The further you get into it though, the harder it is to see the ending. You must be both patient and persistent to succeed, no matter what language you’re learning.
If your frustration is because you’ve reached an intermediate level and you’re not sure how to enhance your knowledge anymore, don’t worry. It’s a very common issue for language learners. It’s called the intermediate language learning plateau. There are a few useful tips for language learning if you encounter it.
Do not compare your progress to others. Everyone learns differently, and the less you know about how other people are performing, the more focused you will be on succeeding. Even the fastest learners need a long time to learn a language.
If you feel frustration setting in, do the following steps:
- Take a deep breath.
- Step away for a bit.
- Find a pace that works for you – it may change based on what you are learning (certain aspects of grammar are incredibly difficult, you may need to be slower as you go through them).
- You will make mistakes. Don’t get discouraged – learn from them.
- Talk to someone about issues you are having and see if they can help.
- Go online and ask questions.
- Be reasonable about your goals.
Enthusiasm is a great motivator, but it will only get you so far. Most of language learning is about being patient and persistent, and you need to keep that in mind the further into a language you go.
6. It’s about Quality, Not Quantity
You can learn 1,000 words, but that doesn’t say anything about your language skills. You can’t gauge fluency based on how many words you know. And simple memorization isn’t learning either.
Target what you learn to things that actually matter to you. Instead of trying to make an impression, remember your overall goal. In the end, your skill will be much more impressive if you focus on all aspects of language. Speaking, writing, reading, and listening. Concentrate on building a solid foundation for all four aspects of language learning.
7. Use Your Passion to Your Advantage
If you are incredibly passionate about a certain aspect of a language or culture, you can use this to your advantage rather easily. This means remembering why you want to learn the language. Keep your eyes on the long-term goal that made you start down this difficult path so that you will keep going even when it gets tough.
If you’re passionate about reading, borrow a foreign language book. If you love films, watch some movies in your target language. These activities could even substitute study sessions sometimes. It’s more important that you enjoy the learning experience and you engage with the language.
8. Languages Are Not Meant to Be a Solo Effort
This reminder should be obvious, but too often we get lost in our own little worlds and forget that language is about learning to communicate. Communication generally requires at least two people (unless you frequently talk to yourself). So learning a language should not be an effort you make on your own.
Whether you seek out a tutor or teacher, or a community of people who are learning the language, or even a language partner, make sure there is someone there to help you learn. You will find that your chance of success is significantly improved. Your accent and pronunciation will also be much better if you practice.