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January 2015

Five Resolutions for 2015 to Help You Master a New Language

Start your year off right with a language learning strategy that works

A new year means new beginnings, and new beginnings bring with them renewed energy and drive. And where better to put your refreshed motivation than into your language learning routine? For our first post of 2015, we will look at five tips for achieving your new year's language learning goals.

Develop a study strategy

We all know that a long journey is composed of a series of individual steps (or flights, cab rides, and such in our modern age), so it's important to visualize your year-end language learning goals now and strategize for their arrival.

Before you begin studying, identify your ultimate destination. Are you learning a new language for casual conversation, or are you learning for more academic/business reasons? Identify where you'd like to be and focus on the areas of language learning that can help you achieve those goals faster. Watch more foreign films to expose yourself to conversation, or listen to a business podcast if your purposes are more career driven.

You know yourself best. Determine what methods help you learn most effectively and utilize them in your daily learning schedule. Create a mix of reading, speaking, and listening in your weekly agenda.

Make a commitment to study a little every day

Like visits to the gym, it's common for students to study fervently at the beginning and falter as time progresses. It's far better to study a little each day rather than a lot only periodically. Languages need to be breathed in over time until they are like instinctive reflexes. This can only be achieved by constant and consistent exposure.

Do whatever it takes to encourage daily studying. Perhaps you learn best in the morning. Maybe a timer will help you stay focused. Work with your eccentricities to keep yourself focused.

Go easy on yourself

If you perhaps lapsed in studying over the holidays, don't beat yourself up about catching up. Likewise, if you miss a day in your schedule, just begin the next day as if nothing slipped. What you don't want to feel is frustration during the studying process (learning a new language is hard enough). Just keep moving forward.

Learning a new language can be very challenging at times, so it's important to keep things fun. It's a wonderful thing, languages, so remind yourself of why you are doing what you're doing. Visualize the end goal. Small steps make your journey.

Don't have time to study at home? Fill in those commute/lunch break hours with the help of technology. Apps like Duolingo can help you study quickly while you're out and about.

Converse with native speakers to test your progress

You're not learning a new language to keep it all in your head. Find native speakers to periodically test your skill. Identify your weak points and make note of how to improve them. Speaking with native speakers also brings a real-time element of culture into the learning process. Words and phrases can be learned in books, but mannerisms and ideas are gifts from people.

If you’re finding it difficult to locate language partners, try meeting some online. With free VoIP technologies and texting programs, you can converse with people across the world with just a smartphone.

Keep your eye on the goal

To reiterate the most important point: don't lose sight of why you are learning a new language. Keep that burning passion for discovery that a new year brings with you throughout 2015, and you will find that learning a new language is both exhilarating and achievable.

What are your language learning goals for 2015? Let us know on Facebook and be sure to “like” TELC English for more articles on language learning tips and tricks.