Thinking about learning a foreign language? Well, if you don't start with an adequate learning plan, pretty soon you will find yourself building up new knowledge without a sufficiently solid foundation to support it.
Therefore, this article will serve as a collection of tips, advice and suggestions for effective language learning. Explore these options to find strategies for learning a language that matches your interests and strengths, as well as a description of the challenges that you’ll likely face.
And remember, while you may not feel that you will ever become bilingual, the truth is that you just have to make the effort to learn in an efficient way. So read on and take note!
Learning a second language should be fun; it shouldn’t just be a monotonous task. If you are relaxed about using your new language skills, you will make fewer mistakes. Moreover, even when you do make mistakes, they will serve as a learning experience.
You should also remind yourself that the person you are speaking to is not there to judge you or your language skills. On the contrary, most people are happy when someone tries to speak their language, and will be patient enough to help you along.
Also, don’t become too preoccupied by what you can’t remember, understand or say yet. It doesn’t matter: you are learning and improving. The language will gradually become clearer to you. However, this will happen on a schedule that you cannot control. So, sit back and enjoy. Just make sure that you spend enough time with the language, because that is the greatest guarantee of success.
Focus on words and phrases
When learning a language, a limited vocabulary can actually take you quite far. Often, there are certain verbs or phrases that you can use for many different situations, thus you don’t have to start off learning specific ones for every circumstance. Remember, you do not need to know all the words of a language in order to speak it. In fact, if you think about it, you don’t know all the words of your mother tongue either!
Therefore, work on building up your vocabulary, since you’ll need to eventually know a lot. As you progress, you’ll start to notice words and how they come together as phrases. Learn these words and phrases through your listening and reading. Read online, and make your own vocabulary lists using web-based dictionaries. Soon, you will run into new words and phrases elsewhere.
Gradually, you will become able to use them. So, don’t worry about how accurately you speak until you have accumulated plenty of words through listening and reading. I've experienced this method personally, and it's a really good way to master a language.
Some fun facts:
- In English, just 300 words make up 65% of all written material.
- In French, just 600 words make up 90% of any particular French text.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Making mistakes is the only way to become fluent in a language. Nevertheless, most adult learners are terrified of making mistakes while they are learning. However, the truth is that making mistakes is something that we all do.
In fact, mistakes can be really positive. For example, they are a vital part of the scientific process, almost as much as correct theories are. Every time a scientist make a “mistake,” they learn something new. In other words, mistakes aren’t about doing the wrong thing and then judging yourself for it. They’re about educating yourself and moving towards future success.
Thus, making mistakes is a natural part of learning. They are only bad if you allow them to be and if you don’t learn from them. Furthermore, making mistakes is part of any learning process. We learn to walk by falling down and we learn to cook by burning meals. Even when we learn to drive, we sometimes bump into things.
It is only when we are relaxed enough to stop worrying about these errors that we start enjoying things and actually learning a new language.
By far the most important factor in learning a language is how much time you spend immersed in it. The more time you spend with a language, the faster you will learn it. This means listening, reading, writing, speaking and studying words and phrases on a regular basis. Learning a new language requires a lot of repetition, a lot of experiences to reference, and consistent commitment and investment.
Therefore, if you want to learn a new language quickly, you're going to have to commit to studying the language for a couple of hours per day. Language learning is based on repetition, which is essentially hammering something into your brain over and over again until you remember it. If you take too long of a break between study sessions, you are much more prone to forget what you learned the last time and you will waste valuable study time going back over what you've already reviewed.
Thus, learning a new language means spending a great deal of time passionately connected to the language you are learning.
Don’t give up
Learning a new language can be hard, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. However, don't get discouraged when you’re having a tough day. Just remember that everybody struggles sometimes, and it will be worth it in the end when you can finally say that you are fluent.
You need to understand that language learning errors are not a negative reflection on your intelligence, but a necessary feature of acquisition. Learning a language is something that always figures highly on people’s wish-lists, but it is not without challenges. You have to be confident and keep at it. You have to follow your dreams.
Remember, it’s certainly difficult to speak a language that’s not your native one. However, if you can imagine yourself speaking it, you can achieve great success. So don’t give up.
Language learning is a highly cumulative process. Don't do it alone. Use your language to communicate with others and your progress will increase exponentially. I hope that these tips will help you to reach your language learning goals.
Are there any particular methods that you’ve found useful for language learning? Let me know in the comments below!