Lately, I have been discussing a lot different ways to learn languages. I have been diving into different language learning methods and been seriously learning a language since august 2012. It started with discovering the polyglot community on the internet and people were speaking a lot of different languages and claiming to learning them quite fast. Especially this guy (www.fluentin3months.com), who have been a big inspiration.
Here I have summed up some of my most important language learning tips and it’s by no means extensive. People write books about these topics. I also try to provide reference to the tips so you can dive in more if you want to.
1. Learn whatever you are learning in your target language
One of the biggest obstacles about learning languages is motivation. With motivation people can do incredible things, and somehow people are not always motivated about learning vocabulary they are never going to use and boring made up conversations in the learning books. Often the learning of the new language happens seperately from what we are doing the rest of the day.
We all do tons of different stuff during the day. We have a lot of different passions and different reasons to get out of bed in the morning, so the trick is to use these interests to fuel the motivation for the language learning. It does require some creativity and persistence to find the resources and material for a interest, hobby or profession (for example I work with water and wastewater engineering and data analysis, and it is hard to find material for this in spanish. But I do try and have found at least some material.)
An easy example is learning a new game. I have recently picked up the game Go, and then learning the rules in spanish helped both my Go playing and Spanish at the same time.
– Reference: Tim Ferris
2. Create an virtual immersion
For me this is natural now, but many people get a little suprised when they see my computer is in Spanish. Wanna start learning languages while to learning about random stuff in Wikipedia, and communicating with your friends in Facebook? Do the switch! Just google how to change the language in facebook (or whatever you regularly use and you are off on your language adventure 😉
Also put on spanish subtitles on whatever show you are watching, if it is possible 😉
3. Throw your ego out and speak!
I am not going to sugar coat this in any way. If you want to learn a language, find a way to get over your fear of speaking and starting tasting the words. Find any occation to use the phrases that you have learned and stop thinking about whatever people think of you. Through speaking you will remember the words better than merely listening. Read all about it here: www.fluentin3months.com
4. Find native friends
With the internet coming along it has become a lot easier to come in contact with people and find language learners. Communicating with native speakers is definitely one of my main reasons for learning the language, so speak with native friends is a big motivation. In the beginning and later you will of course make a lot of mistakes, but that is the fastest way to learning. I often learn more from my mistakes than my successes. There is tons of sites that connect people these days.
5. Find whatever works
The bottom line is that we are all different people on this planet, which makes travelling and life so much fun! 😉 But that means that we also have different ways to learn languages. There is no one size fits all, so try out different learning tips, find whatever works for you (Steve Kaufman), and do the work!
6. Distributed practice and practice testing
There are tons of learning methods that can increase your learning and I encourge you to try out several of them (association/mnemonics/cognates, visualization, flashcards, summarizing, etc.) This research paper researched different learning methods, and distributed practice and practice testing came out on top.
Distributed practice/Spaced repetition – Use flashcards with reviewing at regular intervals
Practice testing – Self explanatory, but important aspect is also that you also get a huge benefit of creating your own question for self testing.
Anki – Flashcard software with spaced repetition system
I hope that even though you had a bad experience in school and studied a language for a long time without learning it that you realize it is a immensely rewarding experience when you use the right methods 😉
If you have some questions, or comments feel free to contact me!