Language learning success is all about building the right habits. If you build productive habits from day one, language learning becomes a lot easier. Of course, there are habits of things to do, and habits of things to avoid, so we’ve compiled a list of Do’s and a list of Don’t’s to help you develop the best language learning habits you can.
Good Language Learning Habits:
- Do practice everyday. Study a little bit every day, even on your own. Make that practice a part of your daily routine. Eventually, it will feel strange to not practice your language, the same way it feels strange to not brush your teeth before bed. By making your language learning a part of your routine, you’ll be hard pressed to not succeed.
- Do review old material. Make a point to review your oldest material from time to time. One good review method is to rewrite your notes from that day.
- Do practice correct pronunciation. It’s important to get basic pronunciation down. Otherwise, you won’t be understood when you speak! If you are not sure, try the shadowing method.
- Do learn high-frequency words. These are the small percentage of words that make up the bulk of a language, and are the most valuable to keep in your long-term memory. You can learn about 500 words with the high frequency method because this is all you really need. Beyond that, words tend to be much more niche and subject-specific.
- Do use the Post-it method. That is my favorite! Label rooms and items in your house with post-it notes, all in your target language.
- Do travel to a country where they speak the language you’re learning. When you feel confident with the basic language, fly abroad. There is nothing better than a study trip to immerse yourself in a foreign language!
- Do work or volunteer abroad. Apply and accept a job abroad to help improve your language skills. This is the ultimate immersion experience, because you will be forced to be productive and functioning in your target language on a daily basis.
- Do breathe (and think) before speaking. If you tend to freeze up when you try to speak in the language you’re learning, count to three and think before speaking. Everything will be fine. A simple count can help you to be confident about your language skills.
- Do add idioms to your language skills. Once you have learnt the basics, adding some idioms to your learning can help you feel more in touch with the culture’s mentality, and native speakers will think you are awesome!
- Do set specific goals. Always set short-term and long-term goals when you’re learning a new language. Long-term goals like “becoming fluent” are so vague and take some people years to achieve. Try something more measurable and realistic as your long-term goal to avoid getting discouraged, like “Be able to have a basic conversation without checking my dictionary.” Then set a short-term goal to help keep you motivated and feeling like you’ve achieved something in the mean time.
Bad Habits to Avoid
While it’s important to develop good habits of things to do while learning your target language, it’s equally important to avoid bad habits that will get in the way of your goals. Here is a list of Don’t’s to help you.
- Don’t get distracted in class. Keep those class-time distractions to a minimum. This may mean turning off your iPhone, tablet and whatever other devices you own, and staying focused on your class. It’s also important not to speak your mother language there, and don’t sit close to anyone who does not like speaking the foreign language taught in class.
- Don’t be shy. If you have the opportunity to make friends with a foreign language speaker, don’t be shy! They could be the practice partner you’ve been dreaming of.
- Don’t be scared of large dictionaries. There are plenty of fun and interesting language texts that serve your goal. Dictionaries are full of words that will spice up your speaking, and help you with difficult words when you encounter them.
- Don’t be lazy. Laziness will stop your progress, and you can even lose what you have already learned. By practicing every day, even when you really don’t want to, you’ll avoid rustiness and continue moving forward.
- Don’t get distracted with accents. While it’s important to get your pronunciation clear and correct, trying to learn a perfect accent isn’t completely necessary. The important thing is being understood, but also, for most languages there are numerous dialects and accents to choose from. Save that for later on when you’re more advanced.
With the help of a good teacher and strong resources, these language learning habits will help you progress even more quickly towards your language goals. Above all, though, the most important thing is to get started. Schedule your first Skype lesson with one of our teachers, and you’ll be well on your way to fluency.