Is second language fluency one of your New Year’s resolutions? Fabulous. You probably don’t need a recap of how important it is to learn a new language , but you may want a bit of direction to ensure your language learning ambitions don’t fizzle out and die. So let’s get started with our 5 tip for learning a new language.
1. Humble Yourself
Come to terms with the fact that mastering a language takes hard work and perseverance. Despite what movie montages would have us believe, learning a new language isn’t as simple as listening to tapes while running on a treadmill. Who has a treadmill in their apartment? Who even has tapes?
The sooner you recognize this process will take work, the sooner you’ll start making progress.
2. Make a Language Learning Schedule
One mindset that should be actively discouraged is the one that says you don’t have enough time. If learning a new language is important to you, carve out a little time each day to devote to practice. The trick is to be realistic and consistent.
But here’s the thing: Goal setting tends to make us a little over ambitious.
“Starting next week I will commit five hours a day to practicing French.”
Between a full-time job and human necessities like eating and sleeping this can be extremely difficult to pull off and doomed to fail. Instead, commit to small chunks of time. Listen to a French news broadcast online while eating breakfast or do half an hour of grammar practice before bed. Using the commercial breaks of your favorite show may work as well. The point is to be realistic, because being realistic will allow you to do the second thing which is…
To be consistent. Setting an unrealistic time commitment can lead to disappointment when you can’t keep up. Setting a manageable timeline can help you reach milestones sustainably and consistently and encourage you to add to your daily practice time.
And keep yourself accountable. Find a free time tracking app or simply create an Excel spreadsheet. This will give you something to refer to and an easy way to track your progress.
3. Relish in the Power of Repetition
Remember how you learned something new as a child? You did something over and over and over again until you figured it out. Whether it was learning to read, figuring out subtraction, or riding a bike there was an adult there to ensure you kept trying.
When we’re older we forget the power of repetition. We no longer have an authority figure to keep us going when we lose patience. We’ve also been trained to believe that you either get something on the first try by virtue of natural talent or you should give it up altogether.
Not at all. Find ways to reinforce your learning by learning 5 new vocabulary words a day, using 10 new verbs in a sentence, or working through a piece of text from a foreign news site or magazine little by little until you understand it.
If it sounds a little boring, it’s because it probably will be at first. But not for long. Practice is a funny thing. At first it sucks, but the more you do it the better you become. And as you get better you’re motivated to keep working at it. It’s a very productive and positive cycle, and if you’re willing to power through the initial resistance the reward is worth it.
4. Make It Fun and Incorporate It Into Your Life
It’s hard work, but learning a new language is fun. Constantly remind yourself that this is something you’ve chosen to do. The brilliant thing about learning a new language is that it can be incorporated into other things you enjoy doing. If you want to procrastinate by surfing the internet, switch your browser’s language settings. Look for trashy reality TV shows in the language you’re studying.
Most importantly, incorporate language learning into your life. And get a little tacky with it if you must. Raid your desk for post-it notes and label everything in your house with vocabulary words. Try to think of how you would say specific things in French, English, or Arabic.
Getting excited about learning a new verb tense can be difficult, but realizing you can navigate another city on your own because you have basic phrases down pat is something to be thrilled about.
As you try out different learning styles and learning methods, don’t get discouraged by the number of times you switch strategies. So long as you stick to it each and every day, you will eventually find a routine and style that works for you. But it means sticking to that schedule we talked about.
5. Look for Language Partners and Opportunities to Interact
There’s only so far you can go on your own. Eventually, you will have to get out there and interact with other people who speak the language. Setting up dates to join a group for an hour of conversation practice or logging in for a session with a tutor on Talaera can jumpstart your language learning and take you from experimental to conversational to fluent.
Visit www.talaera.com to find out more and start your language journey today.