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Learning a language isn’t easy and it takes time, however, there are simple, yet very effective tools and techniques based on scientific principles that people can use to amplify their language learning…
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1. Beware of fluency and perfectionism
It is rather difficult to define what ‘fluency‘ actually is as it can mean different things to many different people. Languages evolve over time, therefore, the process of language learning is an ongoing and exciting challenge. A good way to think of what fluency means for you is to ask yourself why you are learning the language in the first place. Is it for social reasons, business or educational? Depending on your why can really help you build the vocabulary that you actually require from day 1 of your learning. Remember perfectionism can get in the way of language learning. It’s okay to make mistakes this is how we learn best. I encourage mistakes as if you are making mistakes that mean you are actively learning something new.
2. All about mindset and having a ‘go do‘ attitude
No matter which learning tools you use, it’s crucial to practice your new language every single day even if it’s just for 20 minutes. Tell yourself you can and you will tell yourself you can’t and it’s likely you will lose motivation and eventually just give up. It’s really important to manage unhelpful thoughts when learning a new language.
3. Make realistic, specific goals
Learning a new language becomes more manageable when it is broken down into smaller, manageable chunks that are achievable within a set timeframe. SMARTT is a popular goalsetting technique. Mainly used in business it is an excellent tool for personal self-development. You might be feeling rather optimistic when you first start learning a new language but aiming for fluency is not necessarily the way forward. Why not set yourself a target of being able to introduce yourself within 28 days, keep it simple and focused.
4. Learn vocabulary in context
“A great way to build vocabulary is to make sure the lists you’re learning come from situations or texts that you have experienced yourself, so that the content is always relevant and connects to background experience.”
– Ed Cooke, co-founder and chief executive of Memrise
Memorising lists of vocabulary can be challenging, and a rather boring task. Although this may work for some people, most people tend to learn best when actively using vocabulary in conversations, reading or writing. Anki is one of the most recommended tools for learning in general. The smart flashcards teach through repetition and adapt to your particular strong or weak points.
5. Online immersion
There are 168 hours in a week and funny enough that’s the same for everyone! Now it’s how we utilize these hours that makes all the difference. According to research by Ofcom, the average person spends about 20 hours a week online! If you’re trying to learn a new language, turn that web browsing time into some valuable learning time. The Language Immersion extension for Chrome can help you to build your vocabulary and language knowledge by translating parts of the web page you’re browsing into your target language. Readlang is a similar online tool and one I have used for many years, but it also creates flashcards for you and offers many other study tools too.
6. Use mobile apps as foreign language coaching
Duolingo has to be one of my favorite language learning apps. Similar language learning apps include Flash Academy and Hello Chinese.Mobile apps can really help you to keep accountable, track your progress, tailor to your level of fluency, connect you with fellow language learners, and motivate you with virtual rewards. However, this method alone is not enough to learn a language. Apps are great when you are pushed for time and you could study for as little as 10 minutes per day or even on your daily commute…if you are using public transport and not driving!
7. Actively using the language
Actively using a foreign language is key to not forgetting what you have learned. Benny Lewis the author of Fluent in 3 Months recommends speaking with a native speaker for at least 30 minutes a day if you can. If you don’t have anyone nearby to practice with check out Italki or the awesome Add 1 Challenge / Step Up Language Program on Facebook.
8. Change your language settings
When you are feeling more confident with your target language why not set up your social media accounts and mobile in your target language.
9. Step out of your comfort zone
Willingness to make mistakes means being ready to put yourself in potentially embarrassing situations. This can be scary, but it’s the only way to develop and improve. The more often you do this, then the easier you will find new situations. Stepping out of your comfort zone is where the magic really happens.
10. Get a Journal
Having a language Learning journal is one sure way to accelerate your language learning in a really flexible and creative way.
Inspired to learn a new language? Check out our supportive network of language learners in our Language Learning Amplified Facebook Group and join our official Facebook Page dedicated to language learners everywhere.