Learning a new language is challenging and can be very frustrating at times. Here are some tips to assist you along the way.
Before you start any language courses or private tutoring sessions, it is essential to set your own personal goals.
Be honest with yourself, you don’t have to be realistic. You can be as ambitious as you please. Either way, the goals you set for yourself will determine your learning path. The goal could be, the ability to hold a conversation in the new language. Or it could be more advanced as to study and or work in the new language. Whatever your goals are, it is essential to establish benchmarks for yourself. These benchmarks will provide checkpoints to measure your progress based on the goals you set. For good measure – have more than one goal. As soon as you complete the first goal, you’ll already be working towards the second goal. Remember…you can never have too many goals.
Be excited, eager, daring, playful and fearless in your desire and attempt(s) in learning a new language.
A child is unaware of the mistakes they will make, yet, they forge ahead with their curiosity and make them anyway. This is the same for learning a new language. Understand you will make mistakes. The more mistakes you make the more you improve in the language. Ask as many questions, act like a child, as you know nothing. You are starting your learning process all over again. Start with simple concepts, master them eloquently then gradually move onto the following concepts and modules. Remember it should always be fun and exciting!
Staying motivated will get tricky, especially when “life” gets in the way.
You will most likely come across a difficult concept, activity, level or get stuck on a pronunciation. At this time, you will need someone to coach you through the challenges, the struggles and uphill climbs. The coach can either be a friend, paid tutor, professor or just anyone who is a native speaker of the language you are learning. This person must be aware of your language goals, strengths & weaknesses so they are better equipped to coach you to success. It is best to solely communicate with your coach in the language that you are learning. Remember: no one is an island.
The best way to test your language progress is by making small to big lifestyle changes.
For example, change the settings on your phone/computer/tablet to the language you are learning. Your memory of the buttons and functions mixed with the new language will work as the perfect translation exercise. Other lifestyle changes can include speaking to friends online in your new language, watching movies in the language; listening to music, and attending cultural & entertainment centres. This method has proven to work in a language study conducted by Kaplan. They found that 82% of English foreign speakers learned English by watching American tv shows. 65% of people asked by Kaplan have travelled to English-speaking countries to learn English.
If you ever have the opportunity to travel to the native country of the language you are learning, do so!
Not only will you gain a lifetime of personal experience from visiting another country, exchanging with people, and learning a new culture but it will intensify your language learning journey. Your linguistics abilities will be magnified! There are other solutions to foreign travel, especially for those who live in Canada- more specifically, Quebec. Quebec is a French-speaking province with many small towns where the use of English is limited or not spoken at all. Take a weekend or a week to immerse yourself in the local culture and your French will improve. Likewise, if you are learning English. Travel to an English area and immerse yourself in the local culture. Immersion can also take place by participating in cultural events and concerts. Either way, it is important to get out there and mix it up! As much as possible, surround yourself with as many native speakers of the language you are learning.