Calling all language learners! Are you forgetting to do these 5 things?

by Jakob Straub
December 01, 2020
language learners practising helpful tips

Building a new habit is hard. When learning a new language, you might sometimes feel like your own worst enemy because you get in your own way. Your brain is set in its ways and you forget to do important and basic things to make language learning a habit and improve your skills. If you keep forgetting words, can’t seem to find the time for studying or still struggle with speaking or pronunciation, we’ll show you the tricks: remember to do these things when learning a new language for better results!

Top 5 things language learners should remember to do

1. Schedule your classes and study sessions

A common complaint of language learners is, “I can’t seem to find the time to study!” When you can’t find something, it doesn’t mean it’s not there, but it could be you’re looking in the wrong places or go about the search in the wrong way. To find time for language learning, reassess your schedule and your expectations.

First off, sessions don’t have to be long. An effort of any length is better than none! Take a long, hard look at your calendar and identify free time slots and opportunities for studying.

Be prepared to make use of unexpected downtime in a way that matches your learning style. Carry your vocabulary flashcards with you and bring them out on your public transport commute. Crack open a foreign language book while waiting. Watch a program in the language you’re learning when you have a half hour before bed.

These small amounts of time will add up. But don’t forget to slot in the longer items as well, such as your online classes and dedicated sessions for studying and repetition on your own. The trick is to schedule these early and in advance when your calendar and to-do list are not yet full. If on Monday you think you’ll get to it later that week, you won’t have done anything come Sunday evening.

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2. Build your vocabulary

If words continue to elude you or you find yourself repeating the same ones over and over again when speaking, it’s time to think about how you acquire new vocabulary. Don’t feel bad, it’s common for language learners to reach a plateau where it seems as if their brain stops retaining new words.

It’s true that repetition is key in learning vocabulary, but the trick is not the intensity. Too often studying vocabulary comes down to quick and endless repetition of a set of words for a short period of time. After maybe a week, it seems you’ve memorised that set and move on to the next, forgetting to ever repeat the previous words and in turn forgetting those.

The trick is to combine consistency and variety: mix new words with old ones; keep going back to previous sets of words, but put them in new context; expose yourself to the vocabulary you already know in diverse ways.

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3. Have conversations with a purpose

No one wants to get stuck when they’re speaking. It’s an uncomfortable situation we all want to avoid, which is why learners can dread having conversations in a foreign language. Are you afraid that you’ll appear silly or run out of words or things to say when speaking?

Remember then to have conversations with a purpose. The tone and outcome of a conversation in your target language will depend on your goal. Let’s face it, your goals in real life often differ from textbook situations, which is why you need to be able to go off script. This is why Lingoda online classes are so valuable, because the native speaker teachers engage you in real life situations.

The good thing is: you can still learn universal expressions to make requests, greet someone, express agreement and disagreement or pose basic questions which work independently of context or field.

Act out both sides in conversations you actually want to have, and try saying the same thing in alternative ways. This is one of the most useful skills in a foreign language: when someone doesn’t understand you, don’t repeat the exact same phrase, but express yourself differently.

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4. Practise pronunciation

So you’re a learner who remembers that acquiring a new language is not just theory, but also practise–good for you! But don’t forget that just like grammar and vocabulary, you also need to practise pronunciation.

Mistakes in pronunciation will lower your confidence or can lead to outright misunderstandings or even breakdown of communication. Repeating and studying on your own is often on the go and therefore quiet, because you’re in situations where you don’t want to or cannot speak out loud. Don’t forget to take the time to work on your pronunciation and identify any bad habits you might have or an accent spilling over into your target language.

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5. Expose yourself to native speakers

Coursebooks and material for language learners gradually expose learners to situations and pronunciation. In reality, native speakers use slang and slurs, mix expressions, or speak fast and with an accent.

Learning with a recording is very different from learning with a native speaker. In Lingoda online classes, you will be speaking from day one with a native-speaker teacher so you won’t feel nervous, overwhelmed or lost when you engage other native speakers in real life.

But don’t forget to expose yourself to material for native speakers whenever you can, not just material for language learners. Listening practice in particular is something learners tend to forget. The good thing is that it’s easier than ever to consume this kind of content and enjoy entertainment at the same time, thanks to videos, audio books and streaming services. Get started with the top 6 American TV series on Netflix!

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