Learning a New Language: 7 Tips That Work
Thousands of articles have been written to share advice on learning a new language. However, millions of people are still struggling with the unfamiliar vocabulary and complex grammar rules they would love to master.
Behind every failure, there is a story worthy of being turned into a movie script. Many learners study or work full time, take care of their families, have physical and mental health issues, and juggle their responsibilities, trying to do it all without collapsing under the pressure of deadlines and high expectations. And yet, many of these people do not give up pursuing their dreams. And ultimately, they succeed!
If you have not started speaking the language you are learning, do not despair – you are just not there YET. The only indispensable ingredient in the recipe for success is persistence. As for the other ingredients, you will find them below carefully selected to help you finally achieve long-awaited results.
Table of Contents
- 1 Learn from Your Mistakes
- 2 If You Are Short On Time, Do Some Microlearning
- 3 Surround Yourself with the Language You Are Learning
- 4 The More Listening You Do, the Better You Will Speak
- 5 Learn What You Love, Love What You Learn
- 6 Do Not Wait for the Right Moment – Speak Up!
- 7 Enter for an Exam
- 8 To Sum Up
Learn from Your Mistakes
Without mistakes, no learning can happen, so see them as an opportunity to improve your language skills. Making mistakes is as natural as speaking. Even native speakers are not immune from them. So, when you have made a mistake, do not get discouraged, acknowledge it, learn from it, and move on.
These days life is so much easier with all the online editors and writing assistants. What is more, you can always seek help from a professional write my essay service. Once your paper has been edited, take a close look at the mistakes you have made and the way they have been corrected, pay attention to the strategies employed to make the paper more readable and engaging, and compile a list of take-away ideas you could use in the future.
If You Are Short On Time, Do Some Microlearning
It is not a secret that most people tend to procrastinate, postponing important work till the last moment. And, curiously enough, many of the inveterate procrastinators do manage to ultimately pull themselves together and accomplish the task at hand in the nick of time.
Unfortunately, this ‘dangerous method’ will not work for learning a new language. Time is needed to digest new words and allow them to settle down in your brain. So, a much better strategy would be to take one step at a time and consume bite-size chunks of new material.
In a nutshell, learning one new word daily is much better than making a titanic effort to memorize the whole dictionary at the end of the year. Choose an activity that you find rewarding (e.g., reading adapted books, watching series in the original, translating songs, or using a language learning app), and repeat it daily. The results won’t be long in coming!
Surround Yourself with the Language You Are Learning
The best solution would be to go and live among people who speak the language you are learning. You would pick up the rules naturally, just like children do. But if this plan does not work for you, create an artificial language environment around you.
There are no strict rules here. Do whatever makes you feel more confident. Write new words on slips of paper and stick them all around your room, cover your walls with maps and posters, or try journaling in the language you are learning. An airtight trick is to make flashcards and put them in your pocket: look at them whenever you have a free minute, for example, when you are commuting or waiting in a queue.
The More Listening You Do, the Better You Will Speak
Listening to foreign speech is an essential practice that will help you improve both understanding and pronunciation. Moreover, when you listen to something you find interesting, you absorb new grammatical structures in a natural and unobtrusive way. And if at first you understand only a few words, do not worry – you just need some time and practice. Soon you will be doing much better!
Learn What You Love, Love What You Learn
One of the most important secrets to success in mastering a new language is strengthening your intrinsic motivation. Nothing works better for this purpose than building on the subjects you are passionate about. Look for foreign language materials that are related to your interests. Read with a purpose to find useful information concerning your work or hobbies. Make learning a new language instrumental in pursuing your dreams, and you will see that your enthusiasm can make a huge difference!
Do Not Wait for the Right Moment – Speak Up!
Many beginners focus their attention on learning grammar rules and acquiring extensive vocabulary so that they could eventually start speaking. Though this approach seems to be quite logical, it is, in fact, essentially misleading. The longer you postpone the start of actual communication in a foreign language, the harder it will be for you to overcome the linguistic barrier.
You need to remember that any language is a means of communication in the first place. Mistakes are not that important as long as you are understood. Some of your mistakes will even make you look more endearing in the eyes of native speakers.
As a matter of fact, you only need to remember around 250-500 words and be able to use them in a proper context to start communicating. Stuart Webb, professor of applied linguistics at the University of Western Ontario, is certain that the optimal vocabulary would include 800 most frequently-used lemmas: “If you learn only 800 of the most frequently-used lemmas in English, you’ll be able to understand 75% of the language as it is spoken in normal life.” So, you can check out Professor Webb’s research and start learning these 800 lemmas right away.
Enter for an Exam
The absence of a strict deadline turns even the most hardworking learners into languishing procrastinators prone to self-licensing. But once you have signed up and paid for a serious exam, the panic monster will join the game and keep you alert and active. Though intrinsic motivation is the preferred type of stimulus, extrinsic motivation can work really well too, especially if you want to achieve satisfying results within a short period.
To Sum Up
All’s fair in love, war, and learning a foreign language! Just remember that whatever you choose to do, do it consistently and never miss two days in a row. Learning a new language is a marathon rather than a sprint. So, practice daily and run joyfully!