Here are some of the things that you may be doing wrong while learning a new language.
How not to learn a language?
So you’ve decided that you want to learn a new language. Great! But how can you make sure that you learn and remember it? Finding the time, motivation, and resources to study a new language is difficult.
Many start with good intentions but fail to keep them up for various reasons. Fortunately, proven methods help you retain information better and learn faster.
These techniques will help you stay focused on your goals, actively learn vocabulary and grammar rather than just reading about them, use what you’ve learned as soon as possible after learning it, and continue studying in small chunks, even when it gets hard.
If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, however…you won’t learn a new language very fast!
Don’t just read about the language you want to learn
Reading is an important part of language learning, but it’s not enough if you want to achieve fluency. Many language learners, especially beginners, think reading many books and articles is the key to success.
Unfortunately, this is not how memory works. The problem with just reading about a language is that your brain only focuses on the words themselves.
When you read, your focus is on the letters, the sounds they make, and their translation into words. This means that you don’t get any benefit from what you’ve read.
You’ve just read a bunch of words you don’t understand and most likely forgot them immediately.
Commit vocabulary words to memory using Anki
Anki is a free program that lets you commit vocabulary words to memory. It’s an SRS (spaced repetition system) program that uses algorithms to figure out when you are likely to forget a word and then helps you recall it.
Millions of people around the world also use it. Anki lets you create ‘decks’ of vocabulary words you want to remember.
You can create your deck or use one of the many free pre-made decks available online (see the resources section below). Once you’ve memorized a few words, you can begin to use them in your everyday life.
As you use them, you will strengthen your understanding of them and your ability to recall them. Once you’ve committed a few words to memory and used them in everyday situations, you can add them to your Anki deck again, so you don’t forget them.
You can also create different decks for different subjects or types of vocabulary, like numbers, colors, weather, or any other vocabulary that you might use in multiple situations in your new language.
Continually practice what you’ve learned with Fluent Forever
Fluent Forever is a great approach to language learning that combines Anki with deliberate and regular practice. It guides you to focus on language skills that lead to true fluency.
Fluent Forever uses the ‘spaced repetition system that is built into Anki. This means that it will remind you of a word you’ve chosen to learn at a time that is best for you to remember.
It’s a great way to ensure that a word or phrase doesn’t fall out of your mind. Fluent Forever also guides you to practice what you’ve learned differently to master a skill.
This way, even when you’re not actively studying, you’re still making progress towards fluency.
Don’t try to learn everything at once
If you’re learning a new language, you may feel like you need to know absolutely everything about it to be fluent. That’s a bad idea.
When you try to learn everything about a language at once, you’ll get confused and frustrated. You’ll feel like you’re not making any progress and that it’s too difficult to learn.
This makes you much less likely to continue studying. Instead, try to focus on one skill at a time, such as basic vocabulary or pronunciation.
Once you can do that easily, add another skill. This will make it easier to focus on each skill, and you’ll see that you’re making progress!
Don’t just listen to language audio while doing other things
Listening to audio in your new language is great for beginners. However, listening to language audio while doing something else does not let you absorb the language information as quickly or effectively.
You are processing what you hear when you actively listen to a podcast or audio story. You’re actively thinking about what you’re hearing, which helps your brain truly learn the language.
By just letting the audio play in the background, you aren’t actively processing. You aren’t actively thinking about what you’ve heard and trying to understand it.
When you actively listen to language audio, you’re more likely to remember what you’ve heard and use it in conversations. When you just let audio play in the background, you risk forgetting it minutes after you finish listening.
Try speaking from day one, even if it feels difficult and unnatural
Some people who want to learn a language think they should wait until they know a lot of words before they try to speak. This is a bad idea.
You can’t learn a language by just reading and listening. You have to use it actively to remember and understand it.
You have to use it as it’s meant to be used. You can’t get better at a sport by reading about it and seeing pictures of people playing it.
You have to play the sport with other people. By waiting until you know all the words, you will have lost the motivation to speak.
You will be frustrated with how often you mess up and how difficult it feels.
If you want to learn a new language, you can’t just read about it and listen to the audio while doing other things. You must actively and continually practice what you’ve learned and use it in everyday conversations.
You have to actively learn new vocabulary and grammar. Using Anki, you must commit vocabulary words to memory and continually practice what you’ve learned with Fluent Forever.
If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, however, you won’t learn a new language quickly!