If you’ve ever struggled to learn a language, especially on your own or in a non-immersive environment, you may feel like total fluency is impossible.
That’s simply not true. The secret to effective language learning is motivation, which is harder to find if you aren’t forced to use it.
How to Learn a Language and Retain Your Motivation
Now that you know why learning a language is difficult, you can start minimizing the reasons why you can’t stick to a consistent schedule. Here are 10 ways to learn a language by yourself.
1. Find Your Motivation
Language learners can easily stay motivated if they focus on why they want to learn in the first place.
Your end goal should be compelling enough to get you through plateaus and frustrations. Some good reasons to learn a language include meeting new people or improving job prospects.
2. Writing vs. Speaking
Writing (or typing) and speaking a language are two very different things. You can become a great reader or writer on your own, but you can’t converse at normal speed without practice.
If you want to learn to speak well, you should take an online class with native language speakers.
3. Take Online Lessons
Students are often uncomfortable speaking to native teachers, causing them to quit. But you need to get out of your comfort zone to improve.
For example, Lingoda French lessons can help you build confidence through consistent conversation.
4. Set Strict Deadlines
Deadlines are the perfect way to motivate yourself, but they can be difficult to manufacture. If you need to move to another country or apply for a job by a specific date, you’re less likely to procrastinate.
The closer you are to the deadline, the better, as long as you have a schedule.
5. Listen to Podcasts
Grammar is essential to any language, but new learners should focus on being understandable first.
By listening to podcasts in a foreign language, you’re familiarizing yourself with casual terms and basic sentence structure. You’ll also train your brain to respond quickly.
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6. Schedule Your Time
It’s possible to learn a new language in 6 months, but you have to allocate your time effectively. You can’t just learn for 15 minutes a day, 4 times a week.
While there’s no magic number, you’ll get more out of the experience if you study daily for at least 30 minutes a day.
7. Stay Accountable
When you aren’t learning with someone else, it’s easy to fall off the wagon. That’s why you need to find a way to hold yourself accountable.
You can encourage yourself to stay on track by telling a friend you’re learning a new language. Ask if they could talk about it whenever you see them.
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8. Think in the Language
Native language learners often ask if bilingual people dream of another language. The answer is yes, and they also frequently think in another language.
You’ll eventually do it naturally, as well, but you can accelerate the process by forcing yourself to think in a foreign language.
9. Learn 100 Words
While you should be patient when adopting a new language, you can learn faster by reducing the learning curve.
There are 500 words in every language that appear in conversation so often that you’ll hear at least 100 of them daily. From there, you can hit the 1000-word milestone.
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10. Use a Dictionary App
Once you know the first 1000 words in a language, you can converse with 80% of native speakers.
That’s very cool, but that still leaves the extra 20% that could come up when you aren’t ready.
Fortunately, you can stay ready if you download a dictionary app on your phone.