You already know that learning a foreign language is not a rocket science, but we all look for ways or lets say shortcuts to speed up the whole process.
I bring you these 40 powerful language learning tips that helped me on the way to learn English, German, Spanish, and other foreign languages. Keep in mind that you can apply the most of them not only on languages but also on other subjects!
On top of this, I asked few of the most successful polyglots to share with me their personal tips and tricks. You will find them here so don’t forget to check them out!
What You Will Learn
- How to easily learn a foreign language
- How to set SMART goals
- Reveal my best preparation tips
- How to maximize your effort
- How to efficiently use your time
Ready to reveal the 40 most powerful language learning tips?
1) Make a Perfect Study Place
By study place I mean your personal ‘Learning Office’ where you have everything by your side, everything prepared and in one place.
It could be at your home, in a local library, or your favourite cafébar. Always have everything with you and prepared, so you don’t have to distract yourself by looking for a textbook, dictionary or other materials.
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2) Get Rid Of Distractions
This is the key tip. The time we could spend by learning we usually waste by checking Facebook, watching TV, playing with mobile phone or doing some useless stuff.
In other words, turn off everything that distracts you and let only radio play if it helps you with concentration.
3) Buy a Good Dictionary
Old but gold. Even though Internet is full of online dictionaries, you never know when you’ll need an ‘offline’ version, especially if you travel a lot.
4) Figure Out When To Learn
You need to find out when your are the most productive – is it in the morning or in the evening? Get the most of your time.
5) Adjust Your Devices To Given Language
Does this need more description?
Get your mobile phone/iPad/tablet or every device that actually support more languages, and in settings set the language you are willing to learn.
And the conclusion? Whenever you use your device, you enhance your language skills. There are hundreds of new vocabulary you can learn.
6) Do a breathing exercise before you start
Why? Because it helps you to chill out and lose stress.
What’s more, you should also listen to classical music. It’s proven that it actually helps with concentration and temporary increases IQ.
7) Need To Regain Energy? Make a Snack!
You should always make a snack before you start learning.
Doing things hungry and with empty stomach is the worst start for everyone. In order to gain energy and vitamins useful for your brain make a small fruity snack before you start.
This should help you to keep your attention. When you feel flaccid, it’s a sign that you need to get some energy and sugar into your body. Don’t hesitate and go make yourself a snack ASAP.
8) Make Studying A Daily Ritual
You don’t have to spend hours learning a foreign language.
We all know that time is money, so to save some more time learn less every day, but more frequently.
9) Always Try To Have Fun!
Studying is not always boring. All you need to do is to find a way to have fun!
You can accomplish this by taking a couple of funny quizzes, playing language video games or watching interesting videos related to the context.
10) Set SMART Goals
The key to success is to set SMART goals that will help you accomplish your goal.
By SMART I mean goals which are:
S - specific, significant, stretching
M - measurable, meaningful, motivational
A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T - time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable
To give an illustration, your goal should look like this:
,,Within a first month, I am going to learn basics of Spanish, which will allow me to simply communicate on FaceBook with my Mexican friend David. Within next 2 months, I will widen my Spanish skills so I can easily talk with him on Skype to improve my speech and pronunciation.''
Voilá! We successfully set a SMART goal!
Use this as an example, you can easily adjust this for your needs. When you are done, write it down on a paper and put it on a visible place where you can see it. It will remind you of your goal every time you spot it!
One more thing, operate with a shorter time period. Don’t use years/decades, rather set smaller goals, but more frequently, so you can track your progress!
11) Always Stay Positive
Your attitude has a huge impact on the effectiveness of your learning process.
Face your difficulties with a positive mood, otherwise they will consume you.
The studying process is likely to become more difficult, if you keep thinking that you can’t do it. Positive attitude helps you feel less anxious and more open to new opportunities.
12) Go Offline
Nothing works and you still get distracted?
Then go full offline mode! Prepare your materials, turn off everything, and go outside or to your favourite place where you will find peace and where you can easily study.
13) Once You Start Do Not Stop!
How many things you have started and haven’t finished?
It’s crucial to understand that once you start, you should keep going, and don’t stop. If you find yourself in trouble always realise why have you started.
If you have troubles, take few days off but you should never stop.
14) Combine Learning Styles
Don’t waste your time with things that do not work for you.
People remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, but 90% of what they do.
With this in mind, create a kickass method that will increase your efficiency. To give an illustration, use Duolingo then watch YouTube video and lastly listen to an audio podcast. Or buy a language course that will take care of everything!
15) Think In Foreign Language
Having mind full of thoughts? What could be better than thinking in foreign language?
It’s simple as that. Switch to your desired language, and try to think in it for one day!
16) Manage Your Very Own Learning Blocks
After few years of personal experience, I found the best to divide 1 hour of time into 3 blocks:
40 mins of intense studying – 10 mins break – 10 mins of revision
First off, study intensively for 40 minutes, focus only on your task, set an alarm on your mobile phone.
Then take 10 min break to refresh yourself, go on toilet, etc. The reason why you take the break before revision is to let your brain absorb all knowledge you have gained in the first block.
Then follows revision block where you revise what you have learnt. If you happen to forget something, you will know what you should relearn, and what is tricky for you.
Remember to adjust these blocks to your needs. Everyone has different preferences so do you. Test what suits you best and gives you the best results.
17) Learn In Context
Vocabulary shouldn’t be learnt separately, but for better remembrance in context.
That means every new word you learn try using in sentence, create associations, etc. Be creative!
18) Don’t Rush With The Progress
Don’t expect that you’ll become fluent in a month. It is simply not possible, unless you are a robot. Take your time to learn everything properly, there is no need to rush.
19) Use Every Opportunity To Speak With Foreigners
By communicating with others you improve the phrasing and proper pronunciation.
Try to find local pubs or clubs where foreigners usually go, or what’s better, find someone on FB who is willing to talk with you.
20) Open a Window Or Go For a Walk
Get some fresh air. And why? Research shows that fresh oxygen significantly increases energy in more than 90% of people.
In addition, the smells of flowers in air bust the stress and increase happiness. Breathe deeply and let the fresh air spread through your body.
21) Write Down Every Mistake You Make For Further Analysis
In other words, analyse your mistakes. Once a day/week get through all of them and find out what you did wrong.
The aim of this is to realise what mistakes you make to improve your knowledge by correcting them.
22) Make Flashcards With Vocabulary
Put down problematic vocabulary on paper cards (flashcards).
On one side write the word in a foreign language, on the other side write the word in your native language.
This way of learning might be arduous, but you can easily exclude words you already know.
23) Test What You Learned
Every textbook is divided into units and after unit comes a revision exam.
Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Apply this same method to your learning plan. Once you finish a unit/lesson, test yourself if you remember at least 90% of what you have learned.
24) Enjoy The Road To The Top
Enjoy everything you do right now.
The long journey to the top is always the most thrilling and exciting part of your goal.
Once you reach the top, you lose all the fun you had and you usually recall how it used to be when you knew nothing.
25) Don’t Focus Too Much On Grammar
Avoid spending hours of cracking down the grammar. It’s old-school.
You’d better ‘live’ the language, rather than spending hours reading textbooks.
26) Use More Resources
I already talked about this when I was showing you the ways how to easily learn Chinese.
For better understanding and comparison, I recommend you to use more resources in order to learn properly. Buy a textbook/online course, download a pdf, watch a video. Remember, nothing is 100% perfect.
Economists say: ,,Diversify your portfolio.'' I say: ,,Diversify your resources.''
27) Do The Complicated Things First
We all know the term ‘Procrastination’. But what happens if we do the things that we deem as complicated first?
Our efficiency sky rockets because we don’t have to think about them anymore and keep them in our minds for nothing.
Do what causes you problems first and you will have time for other exercises, vocabulary, or whatever makes you happy!
28) Learn Properly = Learn Faster
I always say – 40 minutes of intensive studying can give you more than 3 hours of ‘messy’ learning.
If you want to see a huge approach in your journey, and get the maximum of every moment, then I recommend you to learn intensively in less time, but more frequently.
29) Consider Buying a Language Course
I love to have things in one place, and how about you? I have tried almost every possible way to learn a foreign language but so far the best solution was to invest few bucks into buying a language course.
The biggest advantage of language course is that you have everything in one place - audio records, lessons, exercises, language games, etc.
There are lots of courses you can choose from, but I'll save you time finding the best one.
Last time, I wrote a detailed review about Rocket Languages course, which I think is one of the best on the market for very reasonable price.
30) Write Down Vocabulary From Your Favourite Songs
We all have several favourite songs we love to sing wherever we are.
By translating the lyrics you can easily learn the phrases, because you are able to connect them with the melody of the song and its original translation.
31) Make Your Own Study Notebook…
… where you can track your progress, vocabulary, phrases, grammar, etc.
If you forget something, you will then find it in your special notebook.
32) Label Things At Your Home
Some sticky notes will do the trick.
Write down the translations of the words on them and displace them at your home.
Whenever you see them, you learn new vocabulary!
33) Don’t Hesitate To Ask For Help
Have something you need help with? Have you considered asking your teacher, friend or colleague? You’re too shy?
That’s ridiculous. GO ahead and do it!
If you don’t have a good friend that will answer your question, you can use Facebook and ask there, or Quora, or Yahoo answers. You can go fully anonymous if you wish to.
34) Record Yourself
Not sure if you pronounce everything correct?
Why don’t you record yourself? You just need a microphone, which is actually built in every mobile phone.
Record yourself and compare your pronunciation with the native speaker. It’s that easy!
35) Use It Or Lose It
Once you learn something, you should start using it immediately.
This is especially true when it comes to learning foreign languages. Use everything you learn to improve your skills, and to avoid forgetting it.
36) Revise Before You Go To Sleep
Revising before sleep will help you ‘save’ gained knowledge into your memory.
… if you want to cement new knowledge in your brain, recent sleep research demonstrates that a good night's sleep shortly following your studies has a significant impact on your ability to retain information...
37) Repeat Words Aloud
You might look like a fool if you do this in public, however, saying words loud is great option to immerse vocabulary into your memory.
If you’re using Duolingo or any other learning software you surely know that it is essential to repeat what you learn.
A simple and funny way to start is by listening to songs and singing them loud.
38) Learn How To Speedread
Have you heard about this? By speedreading you can significantly improve the time it takes you to read a simple text, an exercise or a book.
Basically, you will be capable to read more in less time, all you need to do is learn some speedreading techniques. Internet is full of these software.
39) Plan Your Next Day In Advance
I usually do this when I fall asleep.
I imagine what I have to do next day and imagine myself in a position I am actually doing it.
This is how you can cheat your mind and complete annoying tasks the next day. Try it yourself! It will be much easier for you to get boring assignments done.
40) Program Your Brain
It’s well known fact that your brain works like a software.
All you need to do is to program it in the way you need, you can accomplish this via auto-suggestion - imagine yourself in the situation that you manage everything in time and that you have no hassle and difficulties.
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