How to learn a language: 5 simple ways to boost your learning

The best way to learn a language is through practice, this may sound obvious it is the only way to do it. The most important thing to remember is to not be afraid of making mistakes! Mistakes are normal when learning a language and they are part of the process. Though it is important to have a guide when learning a language and a person who can correct your mistakes quickly and prevent recurring errors. Learning a foreign language requires dedication, hard work and effort, but there are some simple ways in which language learners can make the whole process a lot easier. The first thing that you need to do is study in a consistent way; just 15-30 minutes per day are needed to make steady progress. It is essential to learn in a way that you enjoy and also to have a balanced approach. You need to use all of the key learning skills (Speaking, Reading, Listening and Writing) in a consistent manner.

Think in the target language and speak to yourself: To achieve fluency in any language, one must think in the language and stop translating. The best way to improve your level is to think in the language all the time; when you have some spare time or you are doing something that does not require a lot of concentration, like walking to work or washing the dishes, try to think in the language. Everytime you go blank because you do not know a word, write it down because that is a gap in your language knowledge and needs to be addressed. Instead of just thinking in the target language, you can also speak to yourself. In the language field, we call this “shower conversations”. This will enhance your fluency and confidence. Trust me, it works!

Have a notebook: Our START method is centred on the theory that the learner needs to organise the way they learn by selecting what they wish to focus on (See it), put it in a phrase (Try it), use the language in context or conversation (Apply), review and reuse the language (Review it) and the final thing is to improve your level by relating new language to synonyms in a test situation (Test it). To do this, learners should always carry a notebook with them to be able to take notes and focus their attention on what they need to know!

Read and listen all the time: Language learners need to learn in a balanced way and focus their time on learning vocabulary and grammar structures, as well as the 4 key language skills (Speaking, Reading, Writing and Listening). But a fantastic way to improve your level as quickly as possible is to read and listen frequently. It is not necessary to understand everything, but learners should always try to read or listen and take notes so that they can apply our START method and progress. These passive language learning skills are essential to be able to get enough comprehensible input and immerse oneself in the language in an Intensive and extensive way. The internet has opened up the opportunity to access podcasts and texts in the target language, you need to use them every day!

Watch TV in the target language: As we have mentioned before, it is important to enjoy your language learning, therefore, a great way to improve is to watch your favourite films and series in the language you want to learn with subtitles in that same language. It is important to start watching things you have already seen in your own language and to use the programs as a learning tool. As the learners already understand what is happening in the program, they can focus on listening, reading the subtitles and taking notes. Our recommendation is that learners should watch the program and take notes of what they don´t understand, then loom up the words. After this, the learner should watch the program again to notice that they have improved their understanding. Do not be afraid to repeat and recycle!

Be organised: Language learners need to prioritise what they need to know because they cannot learn everything. Therefore, it is important to not waste time and study every day. Learners should have a positive attitude towards their learning and focus on what they have learned and not on what they do not know. Be positive, have confidence in yourself and learn to love language learning!

 

Studying a language IS NOT EASY. You are required to work hard and I suggest incorporating it into your daily routine. You should change your phone into the target language, read every day, watch TV and use a phone app like ´Intercambioidiomasonline´. It is important to do a bit of everything to make sure that you develop your skills well. You MUST ACCEPT that to learn a new language involves changes in your life and these changes can be amazing!

*An interesting method to improve your level is “shower conversations”. This is when you think or act out conversations to see where you have mental blocks. That can be as simple as going blank or finding it hard to recall words. In short it means talk to yourself or think in the language to see where you are likely to stumble when you want to converse.

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