We’ve been reviewing what helps our most successful language learners progress more quickly, and here are our top 5 tips for learners!
Having regular lessons with a skilled tutor is enormously beneficial but a lot depends on the work that you put in outside that contact time and the way you approach your learning.
Find your motivation
Motivation is the single most important factor in language learning success. So it is crucial from the get-go to be clear about your goals – why do you want to do this and what are you hoping to achieve? Which particular areas do you wish to focus on? This driving force will get you through the inevitable ups and downs of the learning process. Breaking down your main goals into achievable steps also helps – not only will the task seem less overwhelming, but it will allow you to measure your progress and keep up your motivation with a well-deserved sense of achievement. Your teacher can help set realistic targets to help you achieve your goals and will keep you motivated with regular feedback.
Little and often
To get the best out of your lessons, it is much better to spend 10 – 20 minutes a day reinforcing your language skills than all in one 2-hour session. Repetition and practise of new words and structures previously covered with your teacher will really help you to consolidate and retain language. To help make this happen, try to incorporate the language into your daily routine, using whatever methods work best for you – apps, flashcards, listening to dialogues etc.
Make it real
The best way to embed language in our memory is to connect it to real images and experiences. Sadly we tend to forget 50% of what we are taught, unless we consolidate it with ‘real’ situations. Practising your language skills or learning abroad is great but clearly not practical for everyone (and impossible currently), however there are plenty of other ways. If you don’t have a colleague or friend to practise with, maybe find yourself an online ‘learning buddy’ to interact with. There are websites set up for this such as https://www.conversationexchange.com/ .
Try to surround yourself with as much of the new language as possible. Choose what appeals to you, and don’t worry about understanding everything – listen to podcasts, watch the news (or a ‘slow’ version of the news if possible, for example https://www.dw.com/de/deutsch-lernen/nachrichten/s-8030 ), watch films, listen to music, put post-its round your kitchen … You will start to become accustomed to the sound and look of the language and then little by little, you will be able to pick out the odd word or phrase that you have already learned.
Relax and enjoy it
We learn better and retain more information when we are relaxed and happy, so it’s much more efficient if you make your learning experience a fun one! Try to accept that making mistakes is part of the learning process, keep a sense of humour and laugh at the misunderstandings that will certainly happen. We’ve all been there! Equally, engage with topics that are interesting, positive and meaningful to you.
Good luck and have fun!