Applying the “long term patient, short term impatient” mindset to second language acquisition
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So You Want to Learn A New Language But Don’t Know Where to Start?
It’s impossible to become fluent in a language within only one month–anyone that promises to do so is lying to you! Trust me, I’ve tried to do this and failed three times. What I learned, is that it takes time and self-discipline to create a learning module, develop the correct mindset, and overcome obstacles to improve your skills. If you are trying to pick up a new language, here are my top ten tips to getting started.
Your first step to learning a language is to set goals and aspirations to guide your studying and help with progress. Make sure to set realistic and attainable goals which you can actually reach to avoid feeling overwhelmed. If your tasks are too lofty, you’ll find it challenging to achieve them and might end up discouraged from continuing your studies. Remember to celebrate your small victories to stay motivated!
Create A Roadmap
It’s pointless to set lofty goals and create a syllabus that you know you’re never going to follow. You know your learning style the best, so make a roadmap that fits it! Focus on the amount of work you’re capable of in a week and the methods you enjoy practicing. It would be best if you spent some time crafting a smart study strategy tailored to your lifestyle and habits. Don’t schedule two hours of studying every day when you know you’ll only be able to manage thirty minutes. You’ll end up setting yourself up for failure and feel unmotivated to continue.
You’ll need to ensure that you create a roadmap that targets all aspects of language learning: reading, writing, listening and speaking. While reading and writing aren’t prioritized as heavily for beginners and those looking to become conversational, they are still essential skills that you should hone. You don’t want to be that person who can hold entire conversations but can’t read labels at the grocery store.
Learn About the Culture
Learning about culture can play a massive role in your understanding of its language. Not only does it affect vocabulary, but culture also alters the way people think and view the world. You might not comprehend a language concept until you study the people, history, and customs. When you learn about society and its traditions, you become more aware of social nuances and how language takes part in its structure.
It can be challenging to learn a new language, even more so when you’re doing it online without access to native speakers. You should do everything you can to immerse yourself fully into the language–it’s one of the fastest ways to pick it up! If you can’t spend time in the target country, try listening to music, watching shows, and reading children’s books. There are also many digital resources such as YouTube and apps where you can simulate face-to-face interactions.
Focus On Vocabulary
Vocabulary is the key to any language acquisition. There’s no use in studying grammar rules extensively if you don’t have the vocabulary to form a sentence. You need to know anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 words in a target language to be considered advanced. It’s crucial as a beginner to focus on the vocab that you use in your daily conversations, such as hobbies, weather, food, etc. Begin creating a foundation of subjects that you enjoy talking about, then move on to learning a varied assortment of words.
As previously mentioned, you must study all four skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Within the speaking skill, though, you should place particular importance upon practicing pronunciation. Use digital resources to hear native speakers and try to mimic the way they pronounce words and phrases. Improving your pronunciation is key to sounding like a native speaker, so make sure you constantly follow along and speak out loud when studying.
Take Practice Tests
The only way you’ll be able to gauge your ability is by repeatedly taking practice tests. Whenever you finish a textbook or module, you should quiz yourself and keep track of your level. Taking tests is the easiest way to monitor your learning and manage your studying. You’ll be able to see which sections and concepts are weak and need extra work. It’s also a great motivator!
The most crucial aspect of learning any language is to have fun while doing it! You will never be able to expand your knowledge if you find it to be a chore. The best way to master a language requires hours of extensive studying, which you can only manage if you actually enjoy doing it. If you find entertainment and satisfaction when learning languages, you will be more dedicated and disciplined when practicing them.
Write It Down
Whenever you learn a new vocabulary word or hear a new sentence, write it down! Studies have shown that physically writing things down helps you remember them much better than typing. Although digital notes and flashcards are more convenient, they can’t beat the memory recall of your handwriting. Practice sentences are especially beneficial to your improvement because they give you real, usable examples rather than just rote memorization of an isolated word.
Use It Everyday
Although you might only be able to schedule twenty minutes of studying a day, you should ensure that you use the language continually every day! Incorporate it into your daily life and routine, so the vocabulary is always at the forefront of your mind. Even as a beginner, you can start referring to objects using a foreign language. Writing a diary entry every day in your target language is also a fantastic way to incorporate it into your life and start thinking in said language.
So there you have it -my top ten tips. What do you think? Are these helpful? Is there something that’s working for you that I didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments section!