8 Tips for Language-Learning Success

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Learning a new language is hard, I won’t sugarcoat that. Think back on the language you grew up learning – it took you years to learn it between your parents teaching you and your teachers helping you learn grammar and sentence structures. This isn’t me trying to scare you into not learning a new language. My point is that it takes time, practice, and effort to get good at reading, writing, and speaking. I spend all day reading and writing, whether that’s for work or in my personal time, and I still find myself learning new words almost daily. Learning a language is really a life-long process. 

With that said, we’ve compiled the 8 best tips to help you stick with and get the most out of your own language-learning journey. 

1. Set realistic expectations

It’s normal to feel awkward when you’re first starting. You don’t know the language, you don’t know how to pronounce anything, and it can be intimidating. Not understanding and making mistakes are a very natural part of the language-learning process. In the beginning, you will likely not understand much at all, and that’s okay! Embrace it. A few months after you begin lessons, you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come. 

2. Identify your learning style

No language-learning journey is the same, and no learning style is the same. Everyone has their own preference and learns at a different pace. Don’t compare yourself to others who seem to be progressing more quickly – they may be struggling with an area that comes naturally to you. If you’re a visual learner, make flashcards (I know, I know – but they are helpful), write things down, and try to associate words with images.  

3. Break up your learning

Research shows that breaking up your study time into smaller, more manageable chunks, is the most effective way to learn and retain information. So outside of your regular in-person or virtual lessons, try to study each day, several times a day. This might look like 5-10 minutes a few times a day during those “idle” moments, like while you eat breakfast, take a shower, or go for a walk. During those times, you can review vocabulary, recite the alphabet, or practice counting your steps as you walk. Take advantage of the times when you can squeeze in even a few minutes of practice, and you’ll see that work pay off. 

4. Learn vocabulary effectively

Vocabulary is an essential element of communication. The more words you know, the more you can effectively communicate. The best way to learn is to use flashcards. Making them yourself is key here, as writing things down helps you retain that information. Write a vocabulary word in your target language on the front and the definition in your native language on the back. You can use the flashcards both ways – test yourself on the new language on the front or see if you can remember the word that matches your native language on the back. 

5. Don't worry about grammar

Grammar is important, yes, but it’s not as important as you think, at least not in the beginning. If you find yourself getting completely stressed out by trying to remember all the grammatical rules, skip them. Having an understanding of the language and spending time talking to others will help you naturally pick up grammar along the way. More often than not, you’ll be understood by a native speaker even if you’re not “following the rules.” My two-and-a-half-year-old doesn’t have perfect grammar, but we can understand what she’s saying just fine. 

6. Practice out loud

Speaking the language whenever possible is better than reciting it silently to yourself. In your head it may sound perfect, but when you actually say it out loud, you might realize that your pronunciation or inflection is incorrect. Say vocabulary words, read sentences, and do pronunciation exercises out loud. The more practice you get transferring the language from your mind to your mouth, the better. 

7. Maximize your exposure

You will learn faster if you increase the amount of contact you have with the language. You can befriend a native speaker in your community or attend a cultural event where that language may be prevalent. You can also watch a movie or TV show in your target language, or listen to a podcast or music. You likely won’t be able to understand much at first, but the more you expose yourself to the language, the more you’ll become familiar with the sounds, rhythms, and nuances of the language. 

8. Talk to your instructor

Your language instructor is your greatest resource! If you’re running into roadblocks with your learning or there is something specific you just can’t seem to work through, let them know. Often these issues are easily overcome by looking at them from a different perspective, and there’s no one better equipped to help than your fluent instructor. 

Success in language learning looks different for everyone, but if you use these tips and stay consistent, you’ll have the best chance of hitting your goals. 

And if you’re ready to start your own language-learning journey, let us know! Global LT will match you with the perfect teacher for your goals and learning style. 

This blog post was written by Megan Tully, Marketing Manager.

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