How to learn a new language

… And not die trying

learn-languages

 

Languages are one of the most beautiful things you can learn.

When you learn a new language you understand new cultures, new people, and new souls.

But learning a new language is not always easy. You need to be consistent and stay motivated as it is going to require a full commitment from you in order to be able to communicate.

If you have a burning desire to learn a new language, there are 3 options for you to get started.

  • Self Teaching
  • Hire a Teacher
  • Language School

SELF TEACHING

If you don’t want to spend any money, you can learn a new language all by yourself.

Keep in mind that you will need to be extremely disciplined and organized.

yourself

HOW TO DO IT?

1. Create a study plan

Make a list in logical order of how you are going to learn the language. You need a program and a calendar, so you know what to study every day.

For a complete list of subjects and the suggested order, you could check online a text book of grammar for your target language. Just check the content list and you’ll see what comes first and what order you should follow.

 

2. Get a list of resources

There are many free resources on the internet. Videos, podcast, blogs, e-books, games etc. Choose only a few resources, don’t get overwhelmed trying to study from many websites at the same time.

– Choose just a couple of websites to learn the grammar of your target language.
– Choose a few YouTube channels from people teaching your target language.
– Choose one book to read at a time in your target language, according to your level.
– Subscribe to blogs that write content in your target language. Not about grammar, but about your favorite subject (traveling, sports, history, news etc.)

 

3. Schedule!

What doesn’t get scheduled doesn’t get done.

Now that you have an order for the subjects you’ll study, give them a schedule. I’d recommend you study 30 to 60 min a day. It’s better to do a little everyday than a lot once a week. Create a daily schedule of your activities where you set a time and commit to study your target language once every day. Put it in your calendar. Create an alarm in your phone and never skip it. Pretend this is the time for a paid lesson and take it just as seriously as you would if you had an appointment with a teacher or a class at school.

 

4. Practice, practice, practice

Just because you are learning by yourself doesn’t mean you don’t get to practice what you have learned with others. Speak only in your target language with a friend that speaks it as well. If you don’t know anybody that speaks your target language, find a language exchange partner. Use Meetup.com and Couchsurfing.com to find language exchange meetings.

If you are travelling to a place where they speak your target language, use it! Talk to people, even if you are nervous. Learn from your mistakes.

HIRE A TEACHER

If you don’t believe in autodidacticism, then you can hire someone to help you and guide you through this process.

Landscape

This method is great since you won’t need to look for the best resources, nor organize the structure of your learning. You are hiring someone that has already done it for you. Teachers always come with a plan and they are better at teaching it than you are. Learning a language with your own teacher is always easier and faster.

 

HOW TO DO IT?

1. Decide if you want to do it online or offline

You could hire someone to teach you Spanish offline. Keep in mind that this person should be a native speaker of your target language. Only native speakers can teach you the right pronunciation and how to sound natural in your target language. Probably you will need to commit yourself to a specific time every week, and also take into account the time and hassle that will take you to commute to your lessons.

The conditions for offline lessons might not be as flexible as those for online lessons, and it might be harder to find the right teacher, since there might not be a lot of options.

If you decide to take online lessons, you could hire someone directly from a country where they speak the language, and you will have the freedom to choose from a greater variety of people. You only need an internet connection and most of the time Skype, Google Talk, or similar. You will have the flexibility to take lessons from any place.

skype

These kinds of lessons tend to be more flexible since you can schedule them as you see fit every week, according to your own schedule. You can learn at your own pace and review all that you want, whenever you need.
These lessons are personalized according to your own needs and learning style.

These lessons are also cheaper than going to a language school. But hey, don’t hire the cheapest teacher out there; you want to pay for quality. Value your teacher’s time, experience and effort. Find a good balance between money and quality. You are paying for education, no peanuts for teachers!

 

2. Finding an online teacher

Uncle Google will help you find different online teachers. If you are learning Spanish, book a lesson with me 🙂 If you are learning another language, just Google up online teachers of your target language and see what profiles you like the best. Choose someone that looks fun and professional.

 

3. Choose someone that makes you feel good and makes you work hard

Select a teacher that you feel comfortable talking to. Someone who always encourages you to think in your target language. Someone that helps you understand your mistakes and always corrects you. You want a teacher that is also kind of a coach, someone that is going to make you work hard towards your goals and support you when you hit a wall. If necessary, try different teachers before settling with one.

 

4. Do your homework

A good teacher is always going to give you homework. You need to practice in your time off and make your brain think in your target language in your daily life. Also, when you do your homework you will have questions that you may not have had during the lesson. Just write them down and discuss them during your next lesson.

 

5. Practice, practice, practice

Besides the practice that you get with your teacher, you want to practice outside of a lesson environment. Same advice as before applies here. If you know someone that speaks your target language, commit to talk to them only in that language. If you don’t know anybody that speaks your target language, find a language exchange partner either online or offline.

Attend to language exchange meetings. Use Meetup.com and Couchsurfing.com to find these meetings in your city. There are many language meetings around the world.

If you are travelling to a place where they speak your target language, don’t be afraid to use it. Talk to people! Even if you are not sure, even if you feel nervous, even if you are scare of making mistakes, just do it. Making mistakes is the way to learn a language.

GOING TO LANGUAGE SCHOOL

Language schools are expensive and sometimes you won’t even have the time to practice what you have learned, since there are going to be 15 more people struggling to speak just like you. The lessons at a school language are standardized for mass education, instead of focusing on individual needs and learning styles. Plus, they are less convenient and less flexible. Think about commuting time. And if you have to miss a class, that’s it. No chance to reschedule. And you won’t learn whatever was taught that day.

school

 

HOW TO DO IT?

Well, if you went to high school you know the drill:

Find a good school, pay a high fee in advance before deciding if you like it or not, and attend to class. Pay attention, take notes and get good grades.

Probably you already know that at the end, even if you get a good score in a test, it doesn’t mean you can speak the language. When you are faced with real life situation you’ll probably freak out and forget all that you learned for your tests but never really used.

 

 THE MOST IMPORTANT PART

It doesn’t matter which way you choose to learn a language. Practice is the most important part of the language learning process. I can’t stress this enough.

FOR GOD’S SAKE GO AND TALK TO PEOPLE!

friends

It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes; people appreciate it when you try to talk on their language. Learn from your mistakes, and pay attention at how people say things. Take notes and say it like the natives next time.

Don’t stay only with what you learn in class. Apply everything new that you learned in your daily life. Keep a journal to write down new words. Create your own phrasebook and review it every day. Think of every interaction you have during your day, and how you would say the same thing in your target language. Listen to music, watch tv, and read blogs in your target language. Surround yourself with the language; switch your Facebook, email and phone to your target language. Learn about the countries where they speak your target language and fall in love with the culture. And most important of all, don’t forget the WHY. Why are you learning this language.

What else would you add? What is the best way to learn a language for you? Let me know in the comments below.

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