We have 9 simple tips that will make starting your new language a total success and help you stay motivated for many months and maybe even years. They’re perfect for beginners, or learners who need a fresh burst of inspiration.
1. Get Great Gear
Every new project deserves some gear. Runners buy shoes, knitters buy wool, and language learners buy notebooks, dictionaries, textbooks and other delightful things. If you’re someone who loves to start a new project with an optimistic shopping excursion, go ahead and indulge!
2. Get More Than One App
Beyond your paper resources, your smartphone is an amazing language learning tool. Download three, four, seven apps to help you learn. Why not! Every language learning app uses a slightly different system. Get yourself a whole range of different apps to test drive and make it your goal to find out which one’s the most enjoyable.
3. Read a Story
Research has shown that learners who learn by reading and listening to lots of interesting input at the right level can learn languages up to six times faster than those who study rules and textbook dialogues. The trick here is to find something you’re interested in: perhaps a fun short story, a video game, comic book, or a song. Don’t be afraid to immerse yourself in something you only half understand, see if your brain can start seeing any patterns, and make best friends with your dictionary. It’s surely challenging, but you’ll be amazed at just how much you can learn just from enjoying something you love.
4. Research Music
There are so many cool ways of using music for learning a language that it deserves its own place in this list. You can start by searching online for artists that make your favourite style of music in their language (rap and hip hop are amazing for this), or by investigating local music styles. Then just hit play and enjoy. To go a little further, you can start reading the lyrics or researching artist interviews.
5. Express Yourself NOW
Most people think that they have to wait until they have studied for 50+ hours before they can start expressing anything meaningful in another language. The trick here is to realise that you don’t have to do this by writing a perfect essay. Expressing how you’re feeling can start with something as simple as one word (“hungry” – “tired” – “headache” – “curious” and so on) and it will help you learn the most relevant and important vocabulary you could ever wish for. Your act of self-expression can be long like a diary entry or short like a tweet. You can make it by creating a colourful art collage, or by writing the same word in 20 different pens. What matters is that you signal to yourself that you’re ready right now, instead of having to wait for some kind of future level.
6. Make Daily Contact
No need to study 200 flashcards every day. What you want is contact. Switch the radio on, watch a video, say hi to a friend, read a page in a book, do a grammar exercise, it does not matter. Daily contact is the foundation on which you can build a solid language routine without feeling like it’s driving you around the bend.
7. Use Social Media for Language Learning
Follow accounts that share content in your target language, and you’ll instantly have a cool and relevant library of interesting stuff to study. As you get better and feel confident, start making comments in your target language and creating your own posts.
8. Try It All
Everything works. No matter which product you buy or which blog you read, they all have something that will work. The key is finding out whether it will work for you. Try Flashcards, try vocab lists, try immersion, try podcasts, try everything that looks interesting in your target language. Even if you find that it doesn’t work so well for you, it’s unlikely to break your language skills completely.
9. Build a Language Habit
Habits are the key to building a lasting change and long-term achievement into your life. For language learners, making your study into a habit is just the best. It means you no longer question everything you do and clear the path to just getting on with what you want to accomplish.