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The One Hack That Matters for Language Learning

The One Hack That Matters for Language Learning

It seems like everyone who is multilingual has numerous hacks, tips, and cheats to help you learn better. On the rare occasions where you meet someone who doesn’t, that person is likely to simply shrug and ask what the big deal is because it’s easy enough to learn a language without really trying.

When you start learning a language, you just want to be able to do it. With technology, it seems like this should be easily achievable, but the further in the studies you go, the more obvious it is that you are going to need a lot of time to succeed.

Before looking at what you need to succeed, you need to know what is likely to make you fail.

The Primary Reasons People Fail

There are as many reasons for failure as there are excuses not to get started. However, there are definitely a few reasons that stand out because they are the ones that most people cite for their failure.

The truth is that learning a language is simple, but that doesn’t make it easy.

Oh semantics.

You have already learned a language, and you really weren’t cognizant as you did it. It simply happened because you needed to communicate with people. This is why it is simple.

But it doesn't happen overnight. When you learned English it took you literally years to really speak well. There was nothing easy about understanding vocabulary, getting the grammar right, and becoming fluent.

And that’s what really matters. The way you learned English is probably not going to be the best way to learn your next language. For a start, you already have a foundation for language learning, so you don’t have to work from scratch (although it will certainly feel like it).

Ultimately, the methods you use are what can make or break your learning. It is so easy to go with the easy route of watching shows, playing with apps, and reading the latest language blogs, but if you are passive in your learning, you aren’t actually learning.

Most people fail to learn because they fail to work.

So Many Options

Having a plethora of choices is fantastic, but it can also be overwhelming and tends to lead to poorer choices. Frustrating, absolutely, but it is also incredibly true.

Think about it. When you go online and start shopping for something, if you aren’t sure where you want to start, it can become nearly impossible to find what you want. Should you find what you want in the sea of online items, you are likely to return to the place where you first found the item. If the item did not meet your expectations, there is a significantly decreased chance that you will go back to that shop.

This is exactly what happens when you choose the wrong tools and methods for learning a language.

Be happy, it is all about you. But it also means you are completely responsible for your success. The decisions you make about how you will learn a language are critical to your success.

Decide to Do It, Then Do It

There are always reasons not to do something, with time being the most common reason why people fail to learn. Don’t kid yourself – that is nothing more than an excuse. I learned Japanese while raising a child on my own, working two jobs, and taking care of an aging dog. Was it easy, not by a long shot, but I loved almost every minute of it because it was the one thing that I did for myself.

It’s about your priorities. There’s no doubt that you actually have time in your day that you could use toward learning a language. The choice is yours if you decide that it is more important to sit and vegetate at the end of the day. It’s still a choice.

Plan how long you will try the different methods. It is incredibly easy to get bored with a couple of the methods, and at some point they will stop being successful anyway. Know how you learn and you will be able to find the right method to actually see progress.

You do need to focus while you learn too. Passive learning can help when you are honestly too busy for a day or two (at most), but it isn’t going to get you where you want to go. Focus and dedication are essential for learning a language.

Know Your Level

For this hack to work, you are also going to need to understand the limitations that your levels place on you. I love anime, but when I first started learning Japanese, watching anime didn’t do anything to help me learn (although it did help a bit with pronunciations when I stopped reading the subtitles). I simply did not have the core required to understand anything, so the words just washed over me as if I didn’t know anything.

At some point, certain methods will help and others will cease to work. You get to choose your tools, so make them count by using something that matches both your interest and your skill level.

The Hack You Need (and You Already Know It) – Daily Practice

It’s probably the one thing you didn’t want to read. You already know that you need to use the language daily to really learn it. You’ve heard it how many times at this point?

Well, if you got this far hoping for something else, you clearly have not heard it enough.

Learning a language is about being dedicated and focused, both of which you must do daily. Add variety, focus on things that interest you, and reinforce what you are learning by thinking in the language – do it every single day.

Even if you don’t have time to study, you have time when your mind is not doing anything, making it the perfect time to practice what you learned.

Here’s a way to help you start making sure you make time.

  • Select a language learning activity that interests you.
  • Schedule time every day for two weeks and do that activity every single week day – no exceptions.
  • Do it. Aim for seven days, but if you can get five days out of it, you are still going to make progress.
  • Review what you actually learned from those two weeks once they have passed.

It’s not elegant, but it is exactly what you need to start forming the habits you need to actually do the one thing you know you need to do to succeed in this endeavor.