A beginner’s guide to language learning
by Andrea Byaruhanga
October 27, 2020
a woman working online and reading the beginner's guide to learning a new language

When it comes to language learning, there are tons of different methods to choose from. And while some are better than others, there’s not just one way to learn. What works for one person may not work for another – we’re all unique individuals, after all. 

However you learn best, there are certain things you should do if you want to be a successful language learner. Here are some useful things you should do to get on track (and stay there)!

Think about your reasons for learning a language

The first thing you’ll need to do when you decide to learn a new language is to ask yourself why. Knowing the reason you want to become bilingual will help you figure out the best path for you. Are you interested in French because it sounds romantic? Do you need to learn English because you’re moving to the UK in three months? 

Once you identify your reasons for learning, you can start planning: how much time you have, how intensively you need to study, what kinds of practice activities will be best and so on. Knowing your motivation will also help you start thinking about your learning goals (we’ll get into that below).

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1. Set learning goals

Just practicing random vocabulary or grammar forms isn’t an effective way to learn; it’ll be hard to make anything stick. For example, if you want to be able to chat with German speakers on social media, you probably don’t need to concentrate on business vocabulary – you’ll just be wasting your time. 

That’s why you need to set SMART learning goals:

  • Specific: Make your goals as detailed as possible.
  • Measurable: You have to be able to check/measure your progress.
  • Achievable: Don’t aim for an unrealistic dream that’s impossible to reach.
  • Relevant: Your goals should make sense for your purposes (the reason you’re learning).
  • Time-bound: Give yourself a time limit to help keep you on track.

By setting SMART goals, you’ll be able to see clearly what you need to focus on to achieve them. You’ll also see how far you are from your target and if you need to make any adjustments in how you’re learning. On top of that, steadily getting closer to those goals will help motivate you to keep going!

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2. Make time

If you’re serious about learning a new language, you’re going to have to make it part of your routine. Language learning isn’t something that only happens when you have free time in your schedule – you actually need to make it part of your regular schedule. Just as you (hopefully) set aside time to eat, bathe, do laundry and sleep, you also need to make time for language learning.

A huge part of learning a language is consistency: When you practise regularly, you’ll remember what you learned in previous lessons and build upon that knowledge. Without a learning schedule, it’s too easy to push off studying for “another day.” The less consistent you are, the slower your progress will be.

But we should also note: As important as it is to study and review regularly, make sure you stop when it’s time to move on to something else. If you don’t take time for other activities, you’ll end up burning out.

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3. Include the language in your daily life

Another essential part of language learning is to make it part of your everyday life. The more you start incorporating your target language into daily activities (listening to podcasts, watching Netflix shows, reading blogs, having chats over coffee), the more you’ll start thinking in that language – and the faster you’ll improve. This is also a fantastic way to ensure you’re learning real and relevant language.

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4. Start with a solid foundation

All of the tips above will help you increase your chances of language-learning success – but only if you start with a good foundation. In other words, you need to start with the right language course.

Choose a language course like Lingoda that offers the best all around: 24/7 learning for scheduling flexibility, native-speaking teachers to expertly guide you through real-life topics, downloadable course materials to help you reinforce your in-class learning, quizzes to check your progress and more.

Planning the best way forward when you’re a language-learning beginner can be tough. By picking a high-quality course and following the advice we offered above, you’ll reach your language goals in no time!  

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