Language learning has many benefits and, if done correctly and constantly over the years, it may lead to great personal and professional gains. Some people are luckier because they are raised bilingual, whereas others have to start from scratch. This doesn’t mean that monolingual people cannot achieve good results. They just need to know where and how to begin. Once the basics are in place, it will be natural to incorporate language learning into a sort of routine.
Here are 9 tips to help you get started:
- Choose a language based on a goal. For example, let’s say you need to learn German because you are going to use it a work or Italian because you are planning a two-week trip to the Bel Paese. Pick a reason and go with it!
- Once you have your reason, break language learning into simple and attainable goals to start with, so you don’t feel overwhelmed. For example, learn about 50 new words a month (about 2 words a day) and start using them right away with people around you. Good words are those related to greetings, how to order at the café or the restaurant and how to do food shopping. Then, slowly start picking up grammar.
- Study the grammar and pick up more vocabulary within a context. Do not just wonder what to learn every day, but have a plan! For example, modern-day books or courses are structured around practical lessons, where you learn progressively and gradually. Learn a Unit a week.
- Make language-learning a habit. Consistency separates the most successful students from the rest. Find a language habit that you can follow (e.g. 15 minutes per day minimum), no matter how you feel and what’s going on that day. It has been proven that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Stick to learning and see if it becomes part of your routine.
- Use every opportunity to get exposed to the new language. For example, label every object in the house in your foreign language (you can use post-its!), read kids’ books, watch subtitled clips on YouTube, or narrate part of your day to an imaginary friend or even your pet. (the mirror works great for this, because you can see your lips moving and it helps you with pronunciation).
- Let technology help you. There are plenty of apps out there and resources (e.g. Duolingo, Anki, etc.). At The Languages Corner we offer private and public online lessons for all levels taught by professional teachers. With the click of a button, and from anywhere in the world, you can connect with one of our teachers and begin to learn right away. How easy is that?!
- Think about language-learning as a way to experience new things and do something that makes you happy. Learning is an effort and to make it pleasant, you need to enjoy how you learn. For example, you can learn new words or even grammar structures by watching clips on YouTube, reading a recipe in the target language, attend events where you meet people who are learners just like you, travel to the country where the language is spoken, etc.
- Speak the new lingo. Using the new language and interacting with it is key to not only retain what you learn, but it is also the gateway to fluency. Speaking will teach you to intuitively express your thoughts, instead of mentally translating each sentence before you say it. To practice, you can find native speakers near you, foreign pen pals, or sign up for one of our conversation courses.
- Be ok with making mistakes. Everyone does! Embrace the mistake and think of it as an opportunity to learn instead of fearing them. Nervous about speaking with a peer? Try with someone a little younger. The important thing is to try and keep trying.
I hope these tips will help you get you started. It is not going to be easy, but it is truly rewarding in the long-run. It is all about getting started with language learning, having the foundation and the right tools to begin your journey towards fluency. Don’t forget that motivation is key to make all this possible.