Now, with growing possibilities for you to travel, study abroad or start a business in a different part of the world, more and more people start learning foreign languages. If you are one of those considering taking courses or joining a class of some kind, this article is for you. We will introduce you to the most useful tips on what to do and what to avoid when learning a foreign language all by yourself so that you might opt for it as a better choice.
- Be around the native speakers
The first we want to start with is the necessity of being around those who speak the language you are trying to learn as their primary one. No books can help you pick up their style, logics and sentence structure better than an ability to be around speakers and pick up their intonations. And on top of this, you can always ask the question, an option that is not possible when you are learning from a book. Whenever you have doubts about the best word to use in a particular situation, ask for a hint. If you hear a phrase for the first time and do not know its meaning, ask for an explanation. Learning words and phrases in their natural context is the best way of memorizing things! Therefore, try to make friends with people that speak the language you need to learn and learn from them.
- Native speakers won’t help without practice
People commonly believe that just being around individuals who happen to speak the language in question will help them learn. However, it is not true unless you initiate a conversation and focus on learning as much as possible. Native speakers do not work like a charm, so you will have to try very hard and overcome the language barriers to master a language at the end of the day. Otherwise, you are just wasting your time.
- Read books in original
Reading books in the original will also help you get used to the way this language functions. You will see how sentences are combined into one whole text, or how an author plays with the meaning of the word, or what phrases should be considered those of the high language and which ones are taken from the slang. So, get a book or two in a target tongue and read them on a regular basis.
- Don’t overestimate yourself
The biggest problem of people learning the language all by themselves is that they are setting unreal goals and once they realize they cannot reach them, they give up. This is not how you should do it. Start with small goals and if you see that they are not challenging you, set new bigger ones. For instance, do not set a goal of learning fifty words a day in the beginning. Start with twenty or even ten, and as it gets the easier increase this number. You will not learn everything overnight, so just give some time and be realistic.
- Be disciplined
This is one of the most important keys to mastering a language. You will not learn it unless you study on a regular basis. Take baby steps but daily. Set specific time every day that you dedicate to the language study and stick to it. You can ask your friends to ask you whether you did something or not if you know that you have a tendency of procrastinating and quitting when difficulties come. Being accountable will keep you afloat when you don’t feel like studying at all! And also, you will increase your knowledge, out it practices step by step and masters the language completely if you have enough discipline.
- Don’t believe in the magical power of flashcards
People keep talking about the flashcards and how perfect they are for all those that want to advance one’s vocabulary. However, they are not helpful to all people. If you are a kind of a person that has brilliant photographic memory, then they are likely to help you out. But the rest of the people are not likely to benefit from using flashcards, especially when words are not practiced in their natural context on a regular basis.
- Remember to travel
Going to a country, the language of which you are trying to make yourself familiar with is essential. You will experience the beauty of the culture it is spoken in and hear people using it in everyday situations. When you are learning a language away from the place where it is spoken, it sounds artificial and unnatural. However, as you see people of all ages communicating in it, it starts making more sense, and you are likely to get inspired to keep on learning it.
- Dive into the culture
Try to surround yourself with books in this language, learn how to cook traditional meals, and invite native speakers over for a cup of tea now and then. In one word, try to get as involved in the culture as possible. You can create a playlist of music in this language and let it play in the background whenever you are cooking, or washing the dishes, or even exercising in the morning. Start listening to audio books when on your way to the university or on the way back home. Some people even recommend changing the language of your mobile device to the one you are studying just to be able it every time you make a call or text your friends.
To sum it all up, I know it is not easy to learn a language. However, it is possible. All you need to have for it is a bit of determination, desire to achieve success and lots of discipline. And finally, if you don’t feel like dealing with it any longer, make sure to prepare a perfect reward for all the effort: this will keep you on track. You can do it just like thousands of people did it before you!