With around six thousand languages spoken in the world, discovering and learning a second or third language is a common occurrence. From school programs to personal preferences, various reasons and contexts arise for new learners to get started and with the development of mobile apps, becoming fluent is now at your fingertips and it’s easier than ever to learn a new language.
With that in mind, I was often asked what is the right or wrong way to study. Though I believe that we all have various ways to learn and that there isn’t a bullet-proof method to learn a new language that will suit everyone, you won’t be learning very fast if you’re guilty of having the following mindset.
The Right and Wrong Ways to Learn a New Language
You Don’t Ask Questions
“Curiosity is a lust of the mind,” said… someone (if you weren’t about to open a new tab to find out who, this tip probably applies to you!). If you are with natives don’t bug them by asking them to correct you or help you out or you might pass for an annoying little know-it-all. No, instead, stay where you are and don’t let people question what you know. Or don’t know.
You Start With Programs That are Above Your Language Level
These beginners programs are for children. Start right away with something big. After all, how hard can it be to read Les Misérables? Now is not the time to bother yourself with basic lessons, dive straight into the big pool!
You Work in Only One Language Level
Maybe you don’t like reading or writing or both. Then, consider focusing on only one area of the language. You’d rather know how to speak than write French? Go on and place all your bets on one horse. Let someone else figure out the rest.
You Move on too Quickly
There’s only so long you can tolerate a certain exercise. You don’t need to practice or rehearse the same things over and over. Browse through your lesson then move on to the next. Wasting time obsessing over details is not on your agenda.
Do you recognize yourself in these types of thought processes? I sure know I did! I admit trying to go too fast or not planning regularly. Fortunately, everything is fixable! Studying a language is demanding and requires a lot of effort and concentration, as well as some willpower to be successful. Here are five ways to be a good student and learn a new language the proper way:
Know your preferences but have some consistency in your schedule. Scheduling regular lessons or moments throughout the week to study are essential to improve in a language.
Do not wait until you’re “ready” to talk. Ask questions, be curious, look everywhere to get to know more. You are meeting with locals? Ask them about your pronunciation! No one will ever get mad at you for asking, just be nice and try your best, you will progress and possibly make friends!
Take Baby Steps
Yes, you have to start with basics and master them before moving on. If you do this properly, you’ll quickly be able to move on to more advanced lessons and topics. Take your time and enjoy every step along the way.
You need to work on each area of the language (listening, speaking, reading and writing) in order to develop your skills consistently. How silly would you look asking a question and not understanding the answer?
Move at Your Own Pace
Make sure to review past lessons regularly and test yourself. Additionally, take a step back every now and then when you can’t remember something. Adjust your pace to your needs, as you can always slow down or speed things up when necessary. Checking your past lessons every now and then is a must. Would you build a bridge and never maintain its foundations?
Learning a new language takes time. Some say 300 words is the minimum to be able to communicate. Numbers don’t matter, learn at your pace, regularly and frequently seek help or advice. You will soon be able to learn efficiently and after all, isn’t that the most important?
About the Author: Annick is an online French teacher and blogger based in Malaysia. Aiming to help motivated young adults to incorporate language learning habits into their busy schedule, she focuses on improving student’s experience and maximizing their training. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
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