How to be a More Successful Language Learner in 10 Steps

Here are 10 ways to be more successful at learning a new language…

1. Face the Fear and Study

Having a fearful attitude will stop you from achieving your set goals. You need to face that fear head-on! Speak up using your target language and don’t be afraid.  Facing up to the fear puts you on the first step to achieving your dreams and goals. Lots of people can be anxious just before Skype tutorials, avoiding certain sentence structures for fear they might get them wrong. Take risks with new vocabulary and push the boundaries the tutors are there to guide you. Stop thinking about the worst-case scenario and start focusing on what could go right.

2. Cut Out the Excuses

You will never succeed if you never try. Stop having excuses for why you can’t start learning another language. Successful language learners don’t blame others for their shorting comings, they understand that they are responsible for their own learning. When you make up excuses you are only trying to make yourself feel better by justification. Excuses will only hold you back when trying to learn a new language.

3. Eliminate Perfectionism

Perfectionism is unproductive and can actually stop you from progressing with your set goals. Instead of worrying about mistakes embrace them and use them as tools to enhance language learning.  No one is perfect, and that is what makes us beautiful.

4. Have a Growth Mindset

Having a fixed mindset can make language learning really difficult. Especially if you believe that only certain people who have the ‘right’ DNA can learn languages. This is simply not true. For a start, if you are reading this then you can already speak a language. It is important to embrace new things and change…

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” – Henry Ford.

Remember that our knowledge can be increased. A positive and consistent ‘Can-Do‘ attitude can outweigh a high IQ!

5. Be Part of a Supportive Community

If the people around you are negative and pessimistic, over time this may rub off on you. Join a supportive, goal-focused optimistic language learning community… like our Language Learners Journal Facebook Page or daily inspiration from Twitter.  Other fabulous resources are #Clear the List or join a language learning challenges. You will find that you become more motivated to work on your language learning goals when you share them with others in a supportive network.

6. Be Mindful and Let Go…

Instead of trying to control everything around you, make an effort to care less about the things you can’t control and focus on the things that you can. Let go of bad habits and embrace new and better ways of doing things. Be kind to yourself and don’t compare yourself with others. Check out this post on how to deal with a negative mindset.

7. Be an Assertive Language Learner

If you want to achieve your goals you need to invest time into completing them. This means you may need to start saying no! When you say yes to everything, people might start to take advantage of you. Saying no more often means you can focus on  ‘me time‘ When you do say yes to something that will then be taken at a greater value. Be brave and say no when you want to; only you can make your set goals and dreams a priority, and it is difficult to do that if you are too busy helping other people to achieve their goals. For more information on how to be assertive check out this Wiki guide.

8. Don’t Run Away From Constructive Criticism

Rather than viewing criticism negatively see it as a gift of growth. You can learn from the criticism and improve your language learning considerably. However, if the comments do seem rather harsh remember people give away a lot about their own character in how they treat others.

9. Be Consistent 

Pick a general time for focused study and try to stick to this time for about 5 days a week. It is also important to take some time out from your studies and just chill.

10. Perseverance and Patience

As the saying goes “Rome was not built in a day“. Successful language learners become successful with regular practice even when faced with difficulties. Success takes time perseverance and patience.


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Trisha Tests: Positively Icelandic #3

Stunning photograph by the very talented Jonatan Pie.

So update number 3 already –  I have to say that at the moment I am finding Icelandic harder to learn than Mandarin Chinese! It has been a slow week due to the Easter holidays, however the positive plus…I have kept going. Lots of small steps still move you forward!

Goal Seeds this week…

So this week I am planting 3 little goal seeds that I hope by the end of this challenge will be growing.

Goal Seed 1:

To work on the pronunciation of the Icelandic alphabet.

Goal Seed 2:

To find an Icelandic italki tutor and get working on vocabulary building.

Goal Seed 3:

Be able to start an introductory conversation.

What I have learnt so far…

  • Not be be afraid of scary long Icelandic words. They are really just lots of little words all brought together.
  • A brilliant Icelandic hack to use the tone of my voice to sound more fluent then I really am! Check out the video below to see how…
  • Being positive really does make you a lot more productive AND I have found it also gives me an energy boost!


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Positively Productive: How to Banish Procrastination in 8 Simple Steps

Let me guess you intend to bookmark this post to read tomorrow?


Let that urge to start a new task pass you by and pass it will.

Read this  right NOW…

This post will take only a couple of minutes of your time to read, but will help reduce the time you spend being unproductive. The technique is very simple, but does require practice in order for it to work efficiently.

Reasons for Not Studying Languages (other than checking out cat videos on YouTube)


Let’s do this…

1 Identify the most important task that you have planned today. Write it down. Is it 40-20 minutes of focused language learning?

2 Break this task down in to smaller more manageable chunks. I mean you wouldn’t eat a whole chicken in one mouthful would you? It would get stuck in your mouth! If your task is too big it will feel stuck and maybe even a little overwhelmed. Decide to do just the first 5 minutes of your chosen task. Getting started is the only thing in the world that matters to you right now. That cat video can wait it will still be there after your study session has ended.

3 Get rid of any distractions. Turn off all devices that you don’t require. Close down all tabs you might have open if working from a computer. Lock yourself in a cupboard if you have to! There should only be you, and your chosen task.

4 Now sit there (or stand), take a deep breath or give out a sigh and focus on getting started. Not doing the whole task, just getting started. Remember ‘chunking it‘. Think of ‘chunking it’ as zooming in on Google maps in order to see something clearer. Don’t attempt to zoom out and focus on whole task as this might overwhelm you.

5 Pay attention to your mind, as it starts to have urges to switch to another task. You may have urges to check your social media accounts, emails, cat photographs or even another website. You might even start to think about doing another task. Notice these urges, but do not give in to them.

6 Sit still (or stand), take another deep breath, hold for 2 (not 2 minutes, but for a count of 2) and let it go (the breath that is not a fart!) Now let any thoughts pass without judgement or acting upon them. Urges build up in intensity and then reach a peak before passing. Let them pass and retrain your brain not to react. The more peaks you can pass the less likely your brain will respond to them in the future.

7 Do you notice your mind trying to justify not doing the task? Also let these self-rationalizing thoughts pass. Do not act upon them. Any negative thoughts creeping in? Check out how to manage these in this separate post.

8 Finally take one small action to get started. As tiny a step as possible. It could be just to pick up a pen and grab a journal. Once you have started the task and got over the first five minutes the rest should just flow beautifully (and maybe with some practice).

Bonus: Now watch that cat video to reward yourself after the study session. Seriously it does not have to be a cat video, but something you value as a treat. Once the brain learns it is rewarded after a study session it will rewire itself more productively.

You are in control of your productivity if things are not working as well as you hope retrain your brain.

Do you have any tips for productivity? What works best for you? Comment below or on social media. #PositivelyProductive / #PosPro


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