Top 5 Valuable Tips Every Language Learner Should Know
Learning a new language can be tough and we have all experienced those frustrating days where nothing seems to stick. But whether you are tackling Spanish or Mandarin, Hindi or French, there are certain aspects of learning which are uniform across all languages.
Sometimes it is just as useful to know what learning mistakes to avoid as it is to understand the proper approaches. If you get mired down in a language bog, it can slow the learning process and cement bad habits in your language use. Not to worry, we are here to walk you through five valuable tips to language learning and, by comparison, some of the common pitfalls.
1. Quality Over Quantity
Learning a new language is an investment of your time but be careful about falling into the trap of thinking that hours and hours of study always equates progress. Remember that the quality of time spent learning will trump quantity every single time. If you are not actively listening or are just mindlessly repeating phrases over and over again, you will retain very little new language knowledge. It is much better to spend five minutes a day on quality, intentional language study, than hours on half-hearted, unfocused learning.
2. Prioritise Listening
While being able to speak well is a key component of learning a foreign language, this can cause some people to underestimate the importance of excellent listening skills. Being able to understand what people are saying is vital for two-way communication, so make sure you do not skimp on the attention you give your comprehension skills. Make listening to your chosen language a part of your daily routine through music, podcasts or audiobooks. Incorporate it into every aspect of your life by listening while you exercise, commute, cook or do chores around the home. When you allow your listening skills to develop, your speaking abilities will follow much more quickly and naturally!
3. Modern Tools Work
The landscape of language learning is always changing, and we are constantly discovering new and better ways to learn a foreign language. Even so, many learners tend to believe that traditional language learning is still the best way to go. Spending hours poring over a language textbook, memorizing grammar rules, short conversation examples (usually featuring someone asking how to get to the library, or something else equally mundane) and vocabulary lists is an incredibly ineffective way to learn a new language. With all the cool apps, online classes and learning alternatives out there, like YouTube videos and virtual language exchanges, why would you waste your time with traditional learning? Contemporary is the way to go!
4. Find the Passion
If you approach a new language solely as a means to an end or as a chore you need to get done with, then you will find that learning is going to be a pretty tough uphill battle. Without passion, you will not get far, not just because you are more likely to give up when things get tough, but also because, without some sort of personal investment, language learning will always be more of a pain than a pleasure. Of course, you do not always get to choose to learn a language as a hobby, or simply because you want to know it. But even if you need to learn it for a job, to study abroad or for some other reason, you can foster passion by looking at it as an opportunity to make new friends, learn about another culture and experience a range of music, films, books and cuisine you never would have otherwise!
5. The Power of Immersion
An incredibly common pitfall for language learners is to choose the path of least resistance in the form of tutors and language exchange partners who speak English. In the initial stages of language learning, it might seem beneficial to have someone who can explain the nuances of the language to you in English, so you can understand easily. However, this is actually one of the least effective ways to approach learning a language. Complete and immediate immersion is the best way to tackle a new language, and this is impossible if someone keeps talking to you in your mother tongue. Be firm with your new tutor or language exchange partner from the start and explain you want them to only speak in the target language, even if you don’t understand everything. It might be frustrating at first but, over time, your brain will catch up and you will enjoy a more seamless, natural approach to using and learning the language.
Hopefully, you have found these tips to be helpful, but watch out for the biggest learning pitfall of them all: not seeking out a qualified language tutor. Our native-speaking language tutors are not only highly qualified but also able to accommodate your personal goals and language needs. Having a great language tutor on-hand to help guide you through common learning mistakes is the first big step toward language learning success, so drop us a quick enquiry to find out more about what we can do to help you!