As a lover of languages, I understand the challenges that language learners face, especially at the early stages of learning a foreign language. It’s a fact that it is difficult to learn any language and that it takes time, desire and dedication to overcome the challenges. It does help if you make the language a part of your daily activities and your life. This is part of the things that make learning easier and faster.
At the same time, there are some very effective learning habits that you can cultivate and make your own, if you are fully interested in learning languages. These habits will make you stick to the lessons and hopefully allow you to overcome some minor stumbling blocks along the way to a foreign language mastery, not only as a reader and writer, but also as a speaker.
You have decided that you’re going to learn a new language, therefore you have to put extra effort into your decision. You must not wait for convenient times to study. You have to make the time to study your target language. If you’re taking language lessons, make sure that you attend each session, and come prepared. Review your previous lessons, flash cards and notes before you come to class.
Learning a language does not come easy and reviewing will help you to remember what you’ve learned, and put away those chunks of information into your memory bank. What you’re doing is adding to your learning little by little, helping your mind process the information systematically when you need to use them.
The old saying, “practice makes perfect” is still applicable when you’re learning a language. It helps you to keep information better, speak better and construct sentences logically in another language when you practice. Reading and writing are important, but speaking the language intelligently is the priority goal of why you’re learning a foreign language. You want to be fluent in the language, thus you must find every chance to speak, or better yet communicate with another human being.
Not being physically present in the area that speaks the language you’re learning is no longer an excuse. You’re in the digital world and there are so many tools available that will enable you to talk with people who know the language. You’ll find the experience very helpful. It will be quite different from what you learn from books and the recorded lessons you’re listening to. Hearing native speakers of the language will help you with the intonation, the pronunciation and the proper use of idioms that can make you learn and understand the language better and faster.
At first you might feel intimidated, because you only know a few words, and can barely come up with short sentences. It is difficult to follow basic conversations in the beginning, but remember that every foreign language learner goes through this process. Keep in mind that other people also used to struggle with the language that is native to you. You have to give it a try. To make it less difficult, try these:
Tell me, isn’t getting fluent in the language of your choice your primary aim in learning the language? Then, make this your driving force in developing habit number three. See to it that you’ll be able to inch closer to your goal with every lesson and every practice that you take. Be very clear in what you what to reach. Develop a plan on how to meet it and provide the achievable and acceptable reason why you chose the particular language.
The “what” is about the level of written and spoken fluency you want to reach, whether you are after conversational fluency or you want to speak the language like a native. The “how” is what you must do every day to reach your fluency target. You must have a daily plan on how to practice and learn. Provide a very tangible reason for the “why.” If you’re willing to spend time, money and effort, your reason for learning a foreign language is deeper than just because it will make you look cool if you speak another language or because it will make your resume look good.
Part of effective learning is the ability to develop your skills in speaking and listening, whether it is your native language or a foreign language. An effective speaker/listener focuses on what you or the other person is saying. You can learn this habit if you’re weak in this department by making the effort to personally listen when a person speaks, closely listening to theirs words and the emotions that they express via their body language, their gestures and the tone of their voice.
Developing this habit will turn you into a better communicator and in turn, be appreciated by others who will find you as someone who’s fun to talk with. When it comes to speaking for the first few times in a foreign language, there is no shortcut. You have to go through the growing pains, and overcome your fear by giving it a try. It will not help your foreign language skills if you stay introverted. If you do not venture to speak, how will you even know that you’ve actually benefited from taking foreign language lessons?
Assimilating the foreign culture where the foreign language resides makes you understand the people and how to interact with them. Aside from learning the language, get ready to deal with a different set of behavior, morality and rules of conduct that may vastly differ from what you’re accustomed to your entire life. Unconsciously, you might have already adopted some of their habits.
You do not have to agree to every aspect of the foreign culture. What’s more important is to respect it. Keep your mind open to new things and have the willingness to try things that are new and exciting and agree with your personal principles. Appreciating and understanding a foreign culture add more to your language learning process.
Most of these habits I impart to my staff and colleagues every chance I get. Having worked with languages for several years, I appreciate the difficulties of listening, talking and thinking in another language. But to make everything work, you must fully develop habits that will make it easier for you to learn the language. My staff comprises native speakers, so like you, I go through the rigors of learning as many foreign languages as I can to survive and be competitive in the language services industry. Lifelong learning is essential. I salute all of you who develop an interest in foreign languages!
Send me a message for a free translation quote