I’m guessing you’re here because you are interested in learning a foreign language and looking for some advice and tips. Let me begin by telling you the info below is just the most common tips and advice according to my experience that I pick up along the way. It may or may not work for you as we all know everyone has their own learning method. Without further ado, let’s get started.
1. Set A Realistic Goal
Like what most people say start small and go big. Have a small and achievable goal. Don’t start with a big goal because you’ll be disappointed when you can’t achieve it. And when that happens, you’ll slowly burn out and lose your motivation.
2. Create A Doable Schedule
Learning a language is a long-term process. It takes a lot of discipline. Set the day and time you feel comfortable with and make sure to follow it diligently.
I know it’s exciting to learn a second language, but unless you’re learning for an exam, set the time to less than an hour a day. Maybe around 15 minutes to half an hour.
If we compare learning a language to a journey, it is not a straight line; it’s more like a spiral. We seem to go in circles, yet we are making progress. – spanishobsessed.com
3. Let It Out. Don’t Hold It.
If there is one thing I’m pretty sure beginners are afraid of is to speak the target language as soon as they start learning it. Mainly because of we afraid of making mistakes. We want to make sure everything is perfect. The thing is learning a language takes time. If you don’t practice now then, when?
If you choose to speak with native speakers, that’s great. But it will be even better if you choose both native speakers and non-native (those who have learned and are currently learning the language) as well. There are cases where when you ask natives why the sentences are structured like this and that, they don’t know the answer. So, sometimes the latter is better because they learn it manually.
If you’re still not confident talking to the natives, then there’s one effective way. And that is to… talk to yourself. Have a conversation with yourself. Ask some questions and of course, you have to prepare the answers as well (I mean who else).
This is not a grammar competition, so don’t worry about it. Remember, the main reason you do this is to build your confidence.
4. Spice It Up
I’m all in when it comes to having fun while learning. We all know language learning can sometimes be quite stressful. To make it fun you should diversify it by watching TV series, movies and listen to songs in your target language.
The former is good because it involves daily conversation and you can learn grammar as you go. If you’ve been following my blogs you know how I got into this language learning at first place.
5. Train Your Ears
Apart from songs, you can listen also to radio. I make listening to English news a habit whenever I’m on the road. I like to imitate their pronunciation and accent. Can’t find the radio channel in your target language? Worry no more. You can use TuneIn. All you have to do is search by location and find your favorite one.
6. Don’t Be Shy When You’re Alone
What this means is that whenever you read anything in the language you’re learning, read it out loud. No one is going to criticize you. This is the time, people! 😀
I’m using this method too and I have to say it really improves my pronunciation. If there is a word(s) that I don’t know how to pronounce I’d google it and bookmark it for future reference.
Language is something that needs to be processed, not memorized. – markmanson.net
I agree with the quote. When I learned Arabic both in high school and university, there are parts that I understood and vice versa. For the ones I didn’t I just ended up memorizing it. What happen years after is I can’t recall most of what I’ve memorized. That is the biggest mistake I have made.
7. Which One Should I Start First?
Since I can’t remember how I started my English vocabulary, let me tell you about Spanish instead. My Spanish learning journey started at Duolingo. I followed its tree learning structure and processed all the words that were thrown at me. Some of it was not even related to my everyday life.
Thus, when I first chatted with a Spanish native speaker and wanted to introduce myself there were a few words I didn’t know such as graduated, self-employed, and much more. I felt frustrated because I’ve been learning it for weeks and yet I can’t even handle a basic conversation.
That’s when I realized I started off on the wrong foot. I should begin with everyday words, those I use in my everyday life. Here’s a great tip from Benny, the Irish polyglot. I recommend you to apply this to your learning method.
8. Repetition, Repetition, and Repetition
Have you experienced reading an English blog(s) where the words that are being used are way beyond your knowledge and you have to literally google what they mean so you can understand the context? The next time you read another blog you found the same words again, but don’t remember the meaning. You knew it before, but not anymore, why? The answer lies in this quote,
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. – Benjamin Franklin
If you’re not using them in your everyday life the chance of remembering it is very low.
As Maria Fernandez said, make 50% of your learning time repeating and revising what you’ve learned than learning new topics. Don’t expect to “get it” in just one go. Don’t move to a new topic unless you fully understand the current one. Our brain tends to forget things easily, especially the new one. So, you need to familiarize it with the foreign words.
That’s it, guys. If you’re a language learner yourself, certainly you have some tips or techniques to learn foreign languages. It would be awesome if you could share with us in the comment below.