Learning another language is a long process, and it is different for everyone. There is no such thing as a fool-proof method.
While we all may learn differently, there are some things that are universal. Some or all of the following nine principles can help you become fluent in your second, third, or fourth new language.
There are nine key principles that you can use to promote fluency in your next language. Some of the principles seem a bit obvious, but they also tend to be the kinds of things most people either ignore or forget about. Some of these principles are key during different stages of the learning process, particularly the beginning. For example, you will learn a language a lot more fluidly by dedicating a lot of quality time to it when you first get started. Some principles are not oblivious (and may even seem counter-intuitive).
If you have been struggling with learning a language, take the time to understand each of these different principles. Just because you are somewhat comfortable with speaking a language does not mean you won’t benefit from scheduling several quality sessions that are longer a couple of times over the week. You may also have a variety of activities and tools, but if you don’t use them all, you may lose interest.
To ensure you understand each of the principles, this blog is split up over two blogs. Figure out how to implement these principles for your current skill level. Once you have a plan, move on to the next blog to determine how to proceed with the remaining five principles.
1 – Allocating Adequate Time
The number one reason why people fail to learn a new language is because they do not make enough time to learn the language. It is not something you can do on a whim. If you miss a day of studying, that’s a pretty big deal. If you miss two days of studying, there is a serious problem. Missing days is only ok if you know about them ahead of time.
Missing days because you don’t have the time is not an acceptable reason to miss. There are so many ways to make time. Especially with today’s technology.
The amount of time you dedicate to learning is going to play an incredibly important role in your success.
In the beginning you are pretty much going to be required to spend time with books, audio, and apps that contain very rigid content. It is not much fun.
Imagine you are standing at the base of a mountain looking up. You really want to scale it, but that first part is the hardest. The further up you go, the more likely you are to continue. Pacing yourself is critical.
It is the same for learning a language. You have everything to learn in the beginning, and it is intimidating. By working at it every day, you will start to see progress. Your memory retention will be much better than that of someone who frequently misses days of studying.
Remember, you can work in small increments. While you are on your coffee break, waiting in line at the store, or driving home are all perfect times to study. It is so easy to work studying into your day (or better yet, build your day around studying).
When you first get started, you do need to plan to have quality time to learn, not just short spaces of time as you can make them. You are building the foundation for learning a new language, and it needs to be strong for you to succeed.
2 – Having and Keeping Your Motivation
It was a tossup whether to put this reason first are second. Since most people fail to make the time to study, motivation comes in second.
I cannot overemphasize how important it is to stay motivated to keep learning. Learning a language is a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating adventure. However, it is an adventure. At the end of the line, you have a world of possibilities in being able to apply what you have learned.
The easiest way to stay motivated is to always remember why you want to learn a language in the first place. Once the enthusiasm wears off, you are going to have to continue to really work hard. Knowing why you are doing it will help you stay motivated to keep going, no matter how many obstacles you encounter.
3 – Ensuring the Quality of Your Studies
In the beginning, this is absolutely essential. Small chunks of time over the course of the day can help, but you need dedicated, quality time to fully grasp concepts. Save the small spans of time for vocabulary building.
You also need to stay within your current abilities with a slight challenge to expand what you know.
Dedicate between one and three longer intervals of time to study (10 to 20 minutes) over the course of the day. If you can do one complete 30-minute interval every day, this will help you learn a lot faster than three 10 minutes sessions over the course of each day. You are also a lot more likely to do the full time instead of saying “good enough” if you finish two sessions.
4 – Moving to Quantity
In the beginning you need dedicated time, but you also need to do it often. The further you progress in the language, the more important the quantity of times you study becomes.
Of course, the more you study at whatever interval you choose, the more your brain is required to think in terms of what you have learned. Quantity includes passive activities, such as listening to a podcast while jogging or watching a TV show in the language.