Learning a foreign language is not just part of the bucket list of many but it actually plays a much larger role in surviving today’s competitive world. Aside from giving you confidence in speaking like a native, mastering some of the widely spoken languages like Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and German can significantly give you an edge in locking in high-paying job opportunities. Since companies are going global, there is high demand for multilingual employees as they can work under different departments and help the company connect better with the target market.
Are you pondering on how to learn a foreign language on your own without spending much? Contrary to common belief, you do not need to purchase expensive learning materials or sign up for full-time classes in order to move your learning forward. Read on below as we discuss the 6 major strategies that have helped language enthusiasts go from a total newbie into a real pro in no time.
1. Create A Bulletproof Language Learning Study Schedule
Similar to your preparation for , you need to identify exactly what would be the focus of your language learning plan: Is it mainly for traveling or for actually getting a certification of language proficiency? Contrary to common belief, you do not need to immerse yourself in the language 24/7 as it will just lead to information overload. Our advice? Start detailing the exact proficiency level you want to be in and create a consistent routine to incorporate learning every day. Some of the scheduling techniques that you may consider are the following:
To avoid distractions when studying a lesson, you can set aside 25 minutes of learning and 5 minutes of break per cycle and repeat it as many times as needed.
According to Parkinson’s law, humans have the tendency to expand work to fill the time available for completion. By planning out every minute of your day, you can prevent distractions and squeeze in more time for language learning.
Also known as the Pareto Principle, this technique will have you rank your daily activities based on what is most and least beneficial to you. If language learning is part of the priorities, then focus on that and cut off all the other tasks.
2. Stock Up On Resources Based On Your Learning Style
According to one study, there are four major modalities for learning information including Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic. They may overlap at some point but learning researchers suggest that the best way for one to master a concept is if it is taught in a style that you are most comfortable with. This suggests that while books may work for some, other language learners may learn better through gamification or while dancing. Below are some of our recommended resources available for free:
Anki – Best for visual learners, this application gives the learner the chance to create their own flashcards with texts, sounds, and images.
Masterfully – combines all the learning styles, Ling App by Simya Solutions offers outstanding support with its interactive lessons and gamified content for over 60+ foreign languages.
Netflix – Also perfect for visual learners, this movie streaming application can be used to learn languages as you can watch videos with correct translations to practice comprehension or change audio to learn about correct pronunciation.
3. Expose Yourself With The Target Language
The best way to learn something is to make an effort to expose yourself to the target language may it be through music, movies, or even literature. For this reason, watching videos with translations and listening to music that is sung in your chosen language can help you pick up some of the slang expressions. You can also try singing along to the lyrics to practice word pronunciation and check whether you understand the meaning. The idea here is by using repetition and encountering words over and over again can help you recognize them and remember the associated meaning.
4. Connect With Native Speakers
The only way for you to gain confidence and convince yourself you are actually learning is by trying to communicate with native speakers. Luckily, you do not need to be face-to-face when reaching out as you can simply use social media to help you connect with speakers of your target languages. You can also join Facebook Groups or Reddit pages for learners and find a buddy interested in a language exchange in a medium that you are interested in- may it be via chat, video call, recorded messages, or email. Some of the reasons why you need to consider this includes the following:
- Native speakers can help you clear up complicated grammar questions.
- You can ask if certain words hold double meanings.
- The native speakers can also give you a list of common expressions for you to sound like a real local.
5. Answer Exercises Based on Your Skill Level
Language learners sometimes have the tendency to overwhelm themselves by answering tasks that are way beyond their level. Sometimes they just go all out and focus on grammar right away without understanding the basic translations for greetings or how to count! This is the reason why adults find it hard to learn since we usually think that tackling the hardest parts of the language using academic textbooks can magically make us learn everything.
As a rule of thumb, beginners should always use beginner-friendly resources that will teach the writing system, basic vocabulary, and common expressions. It doesn’t matter if you are using an elementary-level textbook so long as you get to understand everything it contains.
6. Memorize Words Thorugh Labeling
Labeling objects in your workspace with the translations to the target language also proves to be a good way to expand your vocabulary. You can add stickers to almost every single thing in your home so that you can practice and these items will serve as your flashcards…except that they are the real thing! You can create labels depending on how you want it to be but the most basic format should at least include the name of the object using the writing of your target language, a pronunciation guide, and the English translation.