It’s that time of year again when we make promises to ourselves for the New Year. I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to join the gym, I’m going to eat less chocolate. But within a month, most people have given up on their resolutions. So why not try something new this year and learn a new language! And here’s how you can do it successfully:
The reason most people call it a day on achieving their New Years Resolutions is because they’ve set unreasonable goals. Just like you’re not going to lose 100 pounds in a week, you’re not going to be fluent in a foreign language by February. Take baby steps, decide that this week you’re only going to learn how to introduce yourself. Next week, maybe how to count to ten.
Make a schedule for the week. Put aside as many hours as you can to learn the foreign language. If you can only do two hours per week on a Monday evening, that’s great. But, don’t tell yourself you will do fifteen hours a week when you’ve also got to go to work/school, do the weekly food shop, clean the house etc., because if you can’t follow your own schedule, you’ll start to lose your motivation to learn.
3. It’s never too early to start practicing.
Once you have a grasp of the basics, start practicing! By using the language, you’ll see where you need to improve, and it will give you more motivation to learn the language, as you will be able to see how you can use your new language skills in real life (to ask for information, to explain something about yourself or your culture etc.). Don’t worry if you make mistakes, everyone does and it’s the best way to learn. You’ll learn more from your mistakes than you will from anything else. Most people will say they can’t practice, because they live in a monolingual community. But, nowadays there are many apps that can connect language learners/teachers from around the world (Verbling being one of them!). Online you will, without a doubt, be able to find someone with whom you can practice your new language skills.
4. Find a teacher (if they’re a native speaker of the language you’re learning, even better) who understands your goals and needs.
If you have a teacher, they will be able to keep you motivated and correct you as you learn the language. It’s possible to learn a language by yourself, but a teacher will be able to correct any mistakes you make early on, before they become a bad habit. Also, if you’re having a bad week and want to give up on learning the language, your teacher will be able to offer you support and motivation to keep you on track.
These are just some tips that I have found useful in my experience as a language learner. Remember, you’re never too old to learn a new language, so what are you waiting for, start learning a foreign language today!