Things to consider when learning a new language


     How to learn a language – 8 top tips and advice

So, now that you know about the benefits that come from studying another language, it’s time to get into some of our top tips. 

When it comes to deciding how to learn a language, there are several points to consider. It’s worth noting that there is no exact science to how you will learn best – everyone has their own learning style. However, there are some tried and tested methods that many language students find useful. We’ve highlighted some of these below:  

1. Set your language goals
Setting goals brings all kinds of benefits when it comes to learning. It can help with things like motivation, self-esteem, and self-confidence. Goals also help you achieve success. 

When you’re first figuring out how to learn a language, you should focus on some short-, medium- and long-term goals. These can help to give structure and direction to your learning. 

For example, your ultimate long-term goal might be to have an in-depth conversation with a native speaker of your chosen language. However, to get there, you might have a medium-term goal of passing an exam, and a short-term goal of learning some specific, relevant vocabulary. 

With this approach, you can start to systematically build your knowledge and tick off your progress. Adding timescales to your language-learning goals can help to keep you on track and motivated. 

2. Learn common vocabulary 
According to some studies, native speakers know roughly 15,000 to 20,000 word families. By this, they mean a root word and all its variants. For example, speak, speaking, spoke etc. These studies suggest that by learning the most common 800 to 1,000 root words and variations, you can learn to speak a language quickly and effectively. 

So, when you’re wrestling with how to learn a language, a useful place to start is by learning some common vocabulary. This can help to quickly build your understanding in a day-to-day setting, allowing you to have and follow basic conversations. 

Of course, grammar and structure will also need attention. What’s more, 800 to 1,000 root words will only give you a basic grasp. To follow dialogue in movies or TV, you’ll need around 3,000 root words. For a novel or newspaper, this increases to roughly 8,000. 

3. Find a style that works for you
There are many different tools, techniques, and styles you can use when you’re learning a language. Sometimes, it can seem a little overwhelming to try and use them all. Instead, you should try a few and select the one(s) that work best for your learning style. 

Whether it’s using flashcards, grammar translations, spaced repetition, immersive learning or any other approach, you have plenty of options. Figuring out the right combination of techniques can help you progress at a rate you’re happy with.  

You’ll find all kinds of apps, websites, textbooks, and other materials out there that help with different methods. Of course, our language courses often have a mix of ways you can improve your knowledge.   

4. Practice speaking 
A crucial part of learning a language is being able to recognise, understand and reproduce sounds. For many language learners, concentrating on these first two aspects, as well as vocabulary and grammar, takes priority. However, this can result in a reluctance to practice speaking, which can delay your progress. 

You don’t have to necessarily go out and start chatting with native speakers right away (although this can certainly help). However, talking to yourself, practising your vocabulary out loud, and even recording yourself speaking your new language can help to build your confidence. 

5. Connect with a native speaker 
Communicating with new people in your target language is often intimidating. You might be scared to make mistakes or feel that your current level isn’t good enough. However, practising with a native speaker can help you quickly improve your language skills. 

As well as working on your pronunciation, you’ll also unlock more natural-sounding conversational elements. It also helps with your listening skills, as native speakers will often speak at a more natural pace. 

Again, there are various tools you can use to connect with native speakers when learning a language. Whether it’s face-to-face meetups (post-pandemic), online video chat, or instant messaging, you can meet people even if you’re not in their country. You’ll also find that many of our online language courses are taught by native speakers, such as our Introduction to Italian course. 

6. Consume media
To get familiar with the different ways in which people use your target language, you might want to consider watching, reading and listening to as much media in that language as possible. 

You’ve probably heard how the TV show Friends has helped people as they learn English. As well as teaching colloquial language and gestures, it can also help with things like common words and phrases, expressions and cultural references. 

There are so many mediums you can choose from this. Whether it’s watching TV and movies in your target language, listening to music and radio, or reading the news, you have plenty of options. 

7. Engage with the culture 
Tips six and seven are somewhat related. Understanding the culture(s) that use the language you’re learning is often an integral part of the learning process. As well as providing a solid context for your studies, it also means that you can better connect with native speakers. 

Language often evolves in line with the culture of the groups who speak it. Therefore, to really master a language, you’ll want to make sure you’re also familiar with the cultural context that goes with it. That’s why courses like our Explore English: Language and Culture one are so popular.  

8. Make travel plans 
Although times may be uncertain for travel right now, it won’t always be the case. The best way to put your newly found language skills to the test is to visit some of the places where the language is used. This point brings together many of the others, as the techniques you’ve used when figuring out how to learn a language will help you on your travels. 

When you travel, you get the opportunity to see new places, interact with local people, and immerse yourself in the culture. Although it can be daunting at first, you’ll soon find your feet. It also gives you the chance to identify any gaps in your knowledge and means that you can pick up some new phrases and vocab. 

Final thoughts 
So, there we have it; everything you need to know about how to learn a language. Clearly, it’s a worthwhile project, but it isn’t one you want to rush. There are many hours of study ahead. so taking time to set goals, learn vocabulary, and practice with native speakers can help you improve your knowledge. 

Learning a language can help in both your personal and professional life. As well as adding to your CV, it can boost other skills and improve your cultural understanding. Whatever your language goals are, you can find one of our courses that can help you on your way.

Post a Comment