How to Learn a New Foreign Language – A Complete Guide by The Opletal
Chapter 1 – Learn Smart by Having Fun
Chapter 2 – Learn Smart by Relaxing
Chapter 3 – Learn Smart by Getting Active
Chapter 4 – Learn Smart by Adopting the Right Habits
Chapter 5 – Learn Smart by Conditioning Your Mind
Step 1: Identify Your Learning Style
Step 2: Set Achievable Goals
Step 3: Accept That You Cannot Always Be Fluent
Step 4: Be Patient and Prepared to Put in Effort
Step 5: Take Advantage of Free Resources
Step 6: Adhere to a Strict Study Schedule
Step 7: Visualize Your Goals
Step 8: Write Notes by Hand
Step 9: Use Flashcards
Step 10: Prepare Visual Aids
Step 11: Revert Back to Childhood
Step 12: Embrace Mistakes
Step 13: Learn How to Listen
Step 14: Read Children’s Books
Step 15: Consume Foreign Media You Find Interesting
Step 16: Listen to Radio Stations
Step 17: Learn Practical Phrases
Step 18: Record and Listen to Yourself
Step 19: Tolerate Ambiguity
Step 20: Learn the 100 Most Common Words
Step 21: Converse With Native Speakers
Step 22: Keep a Journal Written in the Chosen Language
Step 23: Improve Your Accent
Step 24: Make Learning Fun
Step 25: Find Like-Minded People
Step 26: Have a Dictionary in Hand
Step 27: Be Willing to Ask Questions
Step 28: Be Willing to Ask Questions
Step 29: Consider One-On-One Tutoring
Step 30: Try Thinking in the New Language
Step 31: Never Settle for Less
Chapter 1 – Learn Smart by Having Fun
Step 1: Train Your Brain With Lumosity Lumosity is an online brain training program developed by neuroscientists from 36 leading universities around the globe. Although mainly composed of cognitive games that are scientifically proven to boost the brain’s power, it is actually a comprehensive training program that aims to improve five aspects of the human cognition: memory, attention, speed, flexibility, and problem solving skill. You are guaranteed to see the difference just by playing for at least ten minutes a day.
How does it work? Under the five aspects, you choose subcategories that apply to your needs. The games that will be instantly recommended to you have all been designed based on your specifications.
Your daily progress will then be recorded and analyzed by the system to give you accurate advice on what else to do.
It currently has 50 million users and has been published in scientific journals, so you are guaranteed with a fun yet systematic way to boost your brain.
Step 2: Read More
Reading is not just a pastime to entertain yourself and stimulate your imagination; it is also an effective exercise for the brain to aid in faster learning. This activity stimulates the left side of the brain which is in charge of your creativity. When used more often, it develops a whole system of recalling and association through visualization to make memorization faster and more accurate.
Reading also improves blood flow to the brain, which means more oxygen is carried to it for higher functioning. As you read, the nerve cells in your brain regenerate faster. This, in effect, leads to better synapses of the nervous impulses transferred from one nerve to another. Imagine how it can make learning easier for you if you will make reading a habit.
Step 3: Play Puzzles and Other Brain Games
Puzzles and other board games are usually called brain training aids because of their apparent benefit to the mind. Seniors who answer crosswords daily have sharper minds, faster recalling ability, and more capable of memorization. Kids who regularly play with Sudoku have better logical and spatial intelligence. People who often play scrabble are more linguistically adept and are able to recall the right words they need faster. You might be surprised, but even kids who regularly play video games tend to score higher on tests because of the rapid mental exercise they get from the intense game.
Puzzles and other brain games are the best pastime because they are entertaining without sacrificing mental development. Many of them also improve mind-body coordination and attention span.
Chapter 2 – Learn Smart by Relaxing
Step 4: Sleep at Least Eight Hours a Day
Do not underestimate the power of sleep because it ultimately decides how your brain works for the entire day. You restart your computer when it starts to become sluggish. You rest your car when it overheats. You sit idly when your legs feel exhausted. This is the same with your brain.
The deletion of short-term memories and the storage of long-term memories happen when you are asleep. Not having enough of it leads to having many important data in your brain deleted and the storage process shortened. As a result, recalling becomes harder and memorization takes longer.
Furthermore, brain cells are produced and repaired when you are at complete rest. This is the time when the damaged bridges between nerves are connected once again for a smoother passage of information from your brain’s processing region to the storage region.
Step 5: Meditate for 10 Minutes a Day Stop looking at meditation as a means to merge with the universe’s cosmic energy or find a gateway to release your astral body. Paranormal and spiritual teachings aside, meditation is a very basic way to unleash the best function of your brain in a very scientific way. Psychologists say that deep meditation reduces the secretion of the stress hormone cortisol, and instead, increases the secretion of dopamine and serotonin, two feel-good hormones that control mood and other biological functions.
When you have a positive mood, your brain also works faster because there is no hindrance to the transmission of data from one nerve to another. You definitely need to do this if you are already losing focus because of a lot things running in your head all at the same time.
Ideally, meditation is done every morning to set the tone for your whole day. However, it can also be used as a means to relax before a tougher challenge at work or school.
Step 6: Listen to Relaxing Music Relaxing music, especially classical music, has been discovered to increase intelligence quotient especially among kids. The effect is not caused by some magical melody though. According to experts, music stimulates the brain to release various hormones that aid the brain into thinking clearer and processing information faster, and at the same time, smoothen out the mood to make you more emotionally stable.
There is an ongoing British study that seeks the connection between music and intelligence. Although the 20-year study is yet to be finished in more than a decade, initial findings already associate fast-tempo classical music (like most compositions of Tchaikovsky) to numerical intelligence while slow-tempo music (like most compositions of Rachmaninoff) is linked to reasoning and creativity.
Step 7: Practice Yoga
Yoga has a lot of health benefits aside from the spiritual harmony that many people think it is all about. Experts call it the culmination of exercise and relaxation combined because you are able to achieve both without the physical toll.
When you practice yoga, you are able to enter deeper relaxation through the intense meditation and breathing exercise required. Also at the same time, your body undergoes rigorous training as it is forced to maintain difficult positions, stretching, and balance. Furthermore, the mental concentration needed to achieve all of these is also intense because you have to focus your mind on only one thing with utter disregard of any distractions from the environment.
There are other forms of yoga that allow you to focus more on either the physical or mental aspect without completely sacrificing any. Bikram yoga, a yoga done in a heated room, is still mental but is more physical. Bhramari pranayama, on the other hand, is a type of breathing yoga that is more mental but still requires physical accuracy.
Chapter 3 – Learn Smart by Getting Active
Step 8: Practice 15 Minutes of Breathing Exercises Daily
How does deep and rhythmic breathing help your brain work faster and accurately? You may think that it is a futile technique, but the whole process is actually more technical that what it seems. The brain needs sufficient oxygen to function properly. Oftentimes, a person lacking mental focus only needs to resupply his brain with lots of oxygen, and you can do that through breathing exercises.
Scientists have seen an increase in oxygen supply in the blood just by doing at least five minutes of breathing exercises. This is a good preparation before studying or starting a task because the brain also becomes larger. It is also a good remedy whenever you feel the difficulty in maintaining your mental focus and clarity.
There are yoga techniques that combine self-hypnosis and breathing, like in the case of bhramari pranayama. Under this practice, you hum and breathe with the same interval to put yourself in a trance-like state while pumping up more oxygen to your brain.
Step 9: Practice at Least 15 Minutes of Aerobics Every Morning
Your brain absorbs 20% of your entire oxygen uptake; that is how much important it is for your gray matter’s functioning. Professionals who regularly do this activity think faster, react faster, and recall more accurately. What’s more is that according to a study that involved seniors aged 60 to 79, aerobics helped their brains grow bigger, which also made them more mentally agile and alert. The results were compared to seniors who only did stretching, and as expected, the difference was significant.
Cardio exercises in general improve the oxygen uptake of the brain. This has been supported by another European study that says 40 minutes of stationary biking, at least thrice a week, increases the oxygen level in the brain by more than 50%.
Step 10: Go to the Gym Three Times a Week
Gyms offer a variety of exercises, and that is exactly what your brain needs to produce more BDNF or brain-derived neurotrophic factor – a hormone that stimulates the growth and repair of brain cells.
Intensive studying and long hours of memorization are nothing if your brain continues to degenerate because of free radicals, lack of deep rest, and insufficient nutrition. Hence, the first way to remedy that is to produce more BDNF to start the whole repair and regeneration process. The goal here is not to pack some muscles (although that would be a big bonus). Rather, it is to encourage you to try different types of exercises. Sticking with only one kind may increase the secretion of your stress hormone, which can be damaging to your brain.
Step 11: Run for at Least 20 Minutes a Day So to recap, exercising in general increases oxygen in your brain, which leads to higher functioning. It also regulates hormone secretion, which lowers the stress hormone and increases different feel-good hormone. Nevertheless, running in particular has added benefits to make your mind clearer and stronger.
First, 20 minutes of running increases the size of your brain by 20%. That can be translated to 20%
improvement in speed of memorization, recalling, and response.
Second, running makes your body more sensitive to insulin. Its significance is that the brain absorbs glucose to serve as its fuel (you have probably heard people say “sugar is food for the brain”). The catch is that it needs insulin to enter the brain cells. The only problem is that many people are insulin resistant or just lack sensitivity to this hormone. With regular running, your brain absorbs more “fuel,”
so that it runs faster.
Chapter 4 – Learn Smart by Adopting the Right Habits
Step 12: Have a Laughing Session According to bestselling author Joel Saltzman, there are evidences that people who laugh more often also have better problem solving skills. Those who have a good laugh before a task are also more alert, more attentive, more patient, and more creative. You might want to watch your favorite comedy film if you need to study something really intently (like for an exam or business presentation).
Laughter lowers stress level, which hinders the brain from functioning better. The reason behind this is the increased amount of cortisol in the brain. This hormone slows down the transfer of data and speeds up the death of brain cells, which of course, lead to inefficient mental state. As a result, you think and memorize slower, and probably talk hastily and incoherently.
A person under stress also cannot concentrate well because there are a lot of negative emotions bugging him.
Step 13: Reduce Your TV Time
Do you know that your brain enters a neutral state when you watch television? The increased alpha brain waves allow it to become passive for a time, which means your brain does almost nothing. If your muscles shrink and grow weaker when not exercised, what more for a brain that usually goes into the passive state? As a matter of fact, your body burns more calories when sleeping than when watching TV.
There is really no problem with watching TV because it allows your brain to rest and become more responsive afterwards. However, when prolonged like in the situation of couch potatoes, the brain adopts a program to become passive, accepting it as the standard mechanism. As a result, your brain becomes less active, which makes learning more difficult.
Step 14: Eat Breakfast Regularly The brain takes the consequences when you skip breakfast for whatever reason. It does not even matter if you feel hungry or not.
According to experts from the Tufts University, breakfast sets the phase for the brain and body for the entire day. As a matter of fact, metabolism and hormone secretion work better when a person eats breakfast. In their research published in the peer-review journal Physiology and Behavior, they discovered that kids who eat breakfast learn in school faster and retain more information afterwards as reflected in tests.
Another American study says that kids who eat breakfast have longer attention span for the day, which makes it easier for them to be attentive in classes. This discovery is important for people who are easily distracted when doing tasks.
Its connection to learning has something to do with chemical structure. Scientists believe that the natural nutrients from food at the start of the day sets a chain of reaction that boosts the performance of all organs, the brain included.
Step 15: Talk About What You Have Learned The mastery of a subject depends on how much you share the information you know and insights you create. Linguistic anthropologists believe that interaction, whether it is interpersonal (e.g. a conversation with another person) or intrapersonal (e.g. writing an essay on a journal), develops the brain and all of its contents by reinforcing the storage of information. Talking about what you know serves as some kind of recording to convert short-term memories into long-term memories that you can access later on.
Furthermore, conversations stimulate your brain by activating spontaneous recalling and memorization. How many information do you think you recall whenever you talk with someone for an hour, especially if you share experiences with one another? At the same time, your brain recalls what is being fed to you, especially if there is innate emotional relevance to them.
Step 16: Opt for Actual Demonstrations and Live Instructions Humans have what experts call mirror neurons of the brain. When a person sees an action, the patterns are sent to the mirror neurons for remapping, which is the start of the recording process.
From there, the signals are passed on to your muscles. This is why your body knows how to do something simply by seeing another person do it.
Haven’t you noticed why kids can copy (or try, at least) dance moves or mimic adults even when they are not given detailed instructions to do so? Their bodies automatically adjust and their muscles instantly pick up the signals.
To learn faster, it would be more appropriate to use actual demonstrations and live instructions, so that the images you see are instantly transmitted to your corresponding body parts. It somehow produces a different result when you read a guideline but still try to visualize what it being said on the text.
Step 17: Do Not Forget About Worldly Pleasures Sex and masturbation, that is. Sexual activities are more beneficial that what you might think. People who do not have much sexual activities are generally sadder and more prone to depression and anxiety. This is because they come short (pun unintended) with pleasure hormones produced in great quantities during sexual activities.
Higher level of serotonin, a hormone that regulates mood, is associated with more accurate decision-making and better creativity. Oxytocin, on the other hand, is typically associated with better problem-solving skills. In addition to those benefits, they also neutralize stress hormones that as you already know, slows down the cognitive function of the brain.
Other experts conclude that sex greatly increases oxygen level in the brain, making your gray matter more efficient. The good mood you get alone is already enough to set the tone for a more conducive learning activity.
Step 18: Focus on One Task at a Time The mind can only accurately handle one or two tasks at a time. Habitual multitasking might save you some time, but it might also compromise the quality of work. Although multitasking is a wonderful skill, it should only be done when needed the most and not as your primary reaction to doing things.
The problem here is not just the immediate result but the long-term effect of regularly doing it.
Habitual multitasking reduces ability to concentrate on one task and also shortens attention span. You take mental focus for granted that you might have a hard time doing it when the right situation calls for it. You also grow impatient in finishing tasks because you become used to taking the faster route all the time. As a result, your become inattentive even during crucial times when long attention span is demanded.
Step 19: Try New Routines From Time to Time Taking the same old routines become less helpful in your mental growth overtime because the challenge also becomes lighter the more you to do it. Imagine a dance routine becoming easier as you practice it all over and over again. The same thing happens with your mind. It slows down when you start feeding it with familiar routines that it has already mastered.
Instead of always going the familiar and convenient way, challenge yourself by having new routines in doing tasks and going to somewhere. For instance, try reversing some steps when doing woodwork and see what will happen. Experiment on some recipes and don’t just go by the book. Chefs create authentic mouthwatering dishes by getting out of their comfort zones.
Step 20: Be Your Audience and Teach Yourself Learning from what you hear, read, and see is just the first phase. It needs reinforcement by application. But how are you going to have reinforcement if you have no chance, like when reviewing for a test or preparing for a speech? That answer is simple: be your own audience and student.
You learn faster and remember things better when you recap them on your own. Your mind records not the raw information and plan you have but the application of those information, giving them a more complete form.
For instance, when preparing for a speech, do not just rely on your copy and planned gestures and blocking. Instead, rehearse it like you would deliver it in the actual event. Your mind will record not just the speech in text form but the actual delivery.
Step 21: Write Notes by Hand
Forget MS Word for a while and do it the traditional way. Writing information with your bare hand is more effective in learning than having the information typed. There happens a three-way recording in your head.
First, you read what you write more intently because the level of concentration when writing is higher compared to when typing. You can type 75 words per minute, but it is almost impossible to achieve the same when writing.
Second, your brain records what you write through the signals your muscles send. It is one thing to see the words written down, and it is another to remember what you have just written down by remembering how you have written them.
Third, your brain records past actions. You remember what you did and what you did it for. This becomes the link you need to recall the details associated herein.
Step 22: Organize Your Schedule
A messy schedule is usually the culprit for a disorganized mind. You have to do a lot of things, sometimes all at the same time, while thinking what to do next. Just thinking about the management of the messy schedule is already toilsome. Don’t you feel anxious and confused when you have a lot of tasks on your plate without concrete plans on how to deal with them one at a time? Even several easier but disorganized tasks can appear toilsome.
To avoid having mental exhaustion, always fix your schedule according to a particular plan. It can be the hardest ones first or the easier ones first. It can also be according to importance or just apply first in, first out rule. Do it however you are comfortable, for as long as your schedule will look more manageable.
Step 23: Learn Something New
You have to continue learning new things to also continue producing new neurons in your brain.
These cells ensure higher function of the brain, but once you deliberately reduce what you learn (you cannot stop learning completely), the neurons also get less reasons to repair themselves. The biological adaptation of the brain is messed up. Don’t old people who regularly think harder also maintain sharper memory through the years?
Do not stop learning even if you think you do not have to. Read newspapers or magazines for random information. Learn new recipes or DIY guides. As much as possible, also hone your mathematical acumen by computing manually as often as possible. Do not rely too much on instant information that you can gather from the internet. You also have to store whatever you can in your coconut shell bank.
Chapter 5 – Learn Smart by Conditioning Your Mind
Step 24: Do Brain Calibration
Nope, it does not refer to hitting the head really hard; it refers to calibration through the eyes, which is a way to realign the regions of the brain when they are needed the most.
The brain has two sides, the left and the right. Each side is in charge of a particular task. If you need to use creativity more, stare at your left side for about 20 seconds. Repeat this three times. It will make your brain work faster for activities such as writing, playing musical instruments, or just creating some ideas.
For mathematical and reasoning tasks, stare at your right side for 20 seconds with also three repetitions. It will make your brain work faster if you have to compute or some reasoning.
Step 25: Use Emotional Trigger When Trying to Learn Something New It refers to emotional attachment or association of any subject or topic to anything that also has emotional relevance to you. This is an essential principle of learning as developed by modern psychologists.
You have conscious and subconscious mind. What you do not know is that your subconscious mind is more powerful than your conscious mind because it is founded on experience, reflex, and the cumulative patters of information in your head. This is why there are responses, reactions, and decisions that seem instantaneous yet proper.
When you use emotion trigger when trying to learn something new, your subconscious mind becomes an active supporter of your conscious mind. As a result, you learn and recall faster.
To use it, try to imagine any scenario relevant to whatever you are trying to learn. For instance, imagine a practical use for a mathematical formula that you are trying to learn, like in the construction of a house or development of a computer program.
Step 26: Use Mental Exaggeration Visualization is a basic method of learning. You memorize people’s names by associating them with faces. You learn a new dance move by visualizing it first. You learn different information about a country by visualizing the sceneries, people, historical events, and sometimes, flag. The brain works better with visualization, so the more exaggerated it is, the better.
This is the learning theory of Dr. Vilayanur Ramachandran from the University of San Diego’s Center for Brain and Cognition. According to him, people tend to respond better on stimuli that are one notch higher than the actual information trying to be learned.
For example, to plan a design for your home or garden, apply mental exaggeration to make the details more distinct. Imagine a house or garden at the best form your mind can grasp.
Step 27: Psyche Up Yourself Every Morning Do you know that encouraging yourself to do better and think clearer for the whole day actually works? The subconscious mind picks up little words of encouragement because it adopts whatever you believe should be the reality. If you tell yourself that you have to be attentive for the whole day, you mind will most likely respond by doing it. If you tell yourself that you cannot do a particular task, you will most likely fail with it. If you tell yourself that you are scared with something, your reflex will most likely reflect it.
You have to condition your subconscious mind to place it on a higher level of awareness. You create a program that becomes your mind’s reality by doing it on a daily basis. If you tell repeatedly tell yourself every morning that nothing can disappoint you for the whole day, your mind will likely find the lighter side in every disappointment.
Step 28: Settle Emotional Issues To clear your mind for good, you have to settle any emotional issues that keep on bugging you. These emotional burdens make your load heavy; they only slow down the way you think, make decisions, and learn new things. Letting go of the things that do not help you improve will take you one notch higher because of lighter load. Haven’t you noticed how easy it is to make decisions when you are happy and how hard it is to think clearly when you are feeling frustrated and mad?
How to settle emotional issues? Forgive people who have wronged you. Hanging on their mistakes won’t make you smarter. Stop questioning your abilities and start exploring your strengths. Instead of remembering your failures, think about your moments of triumph and play that all over and over again in your head. Resolve any issues that won’t make any difference when held on to.
Step 29: Accept Your Current Limit A one-way, one-lane road only gets gridlocked when two trucks try to pass it on opposite directions.
This is the likely scenario in your brain when you try to fit so many things at once, most of which you do not even understand. It is true that humans have the capacity to learn so many things that seem impossible at first, such as a new language or computer programming. However, there is information that needs prerequisites to make sense. You cannot learn to multiply if you do not know the numbers, right?
Learning new things does not happen in a snap. You need to show patience and dedication, and allot more time in learning unfamiliar things. Accept the fact that you cannot learn everything you want at once. Your mind will work better if it can see the whole picture, rather than feed it with so many things it cannot grasp.
Step 30: Train Your Senses
Learning is possible through the senses. You can differentiate up to 4,000 scents with your sense of smell. You get 80% of all your knowledge with your sense of sight. You can taste up to 10,000
different flavors with your sense of taste. You reinforce visual learning with your sense of hearing.
You learn how to use your body properly with your sense of touch. Just when you think you can no longer maximize learning through them, you discover that they can still be better.
Training the senses by isolation is the best way to do it because you heighten their sensitivity. Try to read only with a study lamp to avoid distractions. Listen to podcasts or music in total darkness. Taste different flavors with your eyes blindfolded. Touch different textures with your eyes closed. Smell different scents without looking at them directly. You will be amazed how sensitive your scents will be. There is also a study that says listening to classical music improves memory retention.
Step 31: Visualize Your Plans and Priorities Learning is all about the motivation. You cannot learn something if you do not have any motivation.
Students cannot study lessons if they do not see passing or high grade as motivation. Employees cannot master tasks if they don’t see salary increase or promotion as motivation. There is always a motivation behind everything, and if you feel tired about learning, just find a motivation to help you.
Sit back for a while and close your eyes. Envision your main goal for doing something. If you need to learn a lot of things about a business proposal to a client, imagine yourself in your own office, now as a manager or executive. If you need to learn a lot for an exam, imagine yourself at the top of the stage with a gold medal dangling from your neck.
31 Steps to Learn a New Language Fun, Fast & Easy Steps Learn Any New & Foreign Language You Want. This Ultimate Guide Will Help You to Become Fluent With Joy an Strategy
Step 1: Identify Your Learning Style The first crucial step an individual must take in learning a new language is to identify their learning style. These preferred styles guide the way a person learns by stimulating key areas of the brain to learning more effective. Knowing which type they are ensures that they can maximize their potential to retain knowledge. By recognizing learning styles, a learner will be able to recall information better. They will also be able to use techniques that improve the speed and quality of their learning.
There are seven different learning styles: spatial, auditory, linguistic, kinesthetic, mathematical, interpersonal, and interpersonal.
Spatial learners learn best using images and spatial understanding.
Aural learners prefer using sound and music.
Verbal learners enjoy using words, both written and oral.
Kinesthetic learners use their bodies to learn, their hands and sense of touch especially.
Mathematic learners are best suited to logic and reasoning systems.
Social learners enjoy learning in groups or with other people.
Intrapersonal or solitary learners work alone using self-study methods.
It is important to determine which type of style an individual falls under so they could make the most out of their study time. This ensures that they are studying in an effective manner.
Step 2: Set Achievable Goals
It is easy to get side-tracked and feel uninspired when learning a new language. It is important to have a clear set of feasible goals that one must strive to meet to maintain interest in learning and avoid losing focus. Avoid setting ambiguous goals that fail to produce tangible results. More often than not, these types of goals only end up demotivating a learner because they do not have a specific end target in sight. This leads a person to feel as though they’ve failed and discourage them to keep trying. Goals like “be fluent” or “be able to carry on a conversation with a native” are examples of these. How fluent is fluent enough? What kind of conversation does this person want to have? If questions like these arise, then most likely the goal is not achievable. An example of a solid objective to have would be something like “to be able to recite the Hail Mary prayer in Spanish”. Another one is “to be able to write my full name and address in the Korean hangeul alphabet”. These have concrete outputs and are easy to perform and thus, they will motivate a learner to achieve them.
Step 3: Accept That You Cannot Always Be Fluent In keeping with the second goal, it is important to get rid of the word “fluent” in a learner’s vocabulary. Although it is quite counterintuitive to the purpose of this book, it is necessary in learning any language. A person can never be truly eloquent in a language foreign to their mother tongue. That is, unless they are a native to the country the language they are learning originates from. And even then, they still wouldn’t be entirely fluent. That is because language is fluid, it is volatile, alive and not rigid in form. It might be hard to keep up especially if you do not always get to use the language.
The structure of a certain language will continue to change and develop before a non-native speaker can even begin to catch up. Acknowledging and respecting the fact that one cannot be fluent in a language is important. This enables a learner to maintain a consistent drive to keep learning it.
Instead, it is better for learners to yearn to be functional in a language and let it continue to inspire them. These ambitions are easier to define and achieve. Because of this, an individual is less likely to feel disappointed or discouraged from continuing on the otherwise beautiful journey of language learning.
Step 4: Be Patient and Prepared to Put in Effort As goes with any undertaking, learning a language is hard work. It asks for a lot of serious commitment from a person before they are able to even begin to reap what they sow. An individual learning a foreign language should prepare to give all that and more – even if their aim is only to be able to speak at a conversational level. That means a ton of elbow grease; constant memorization, practice, and practical usage. Patience goes hand in hand with learning a language, like it does with most things.
Unless a person is superhuman, they should not expect to develop fluency overnight. Without any diligent effort on their part, they should not expect to be able to speak a language in a few years even.
It takes a little more than just a few hours of study every day. If a person does not put the skills they learn from books to use, the knowledge will only expire and not flourish. Putting one’s self out there and taking initiative to learn the language is the only sure-fire way to become fluent.
Step 5: Take Advantage of Free Resources One of the many benefits of living in the age of the internet is the ease of having information readily available at the touch of a button. Many people take this convenience for granted, but those looking to learn a language should not overlook it. Instead of amassing debt from the cost of textbooks and tutors, consider making the most out of free online resources. The internet is home to plenty of websites that offer courses and materials for language learning at little to no cost. There are also interactive applications that make learning fun and target memorization.
The internet is also good for networking. Some online sites connect you to native speakers who can serve as an online tutor, either to teach lessons or correct output. Oftentimes, they are also looking to learn another language. This means that even learners can be teachers too. There’s no more excuse to put off learning a language as these learning materials are often free and user-friendly. One just needs to seek them out and make the most out of them.
Step 6: Adhere to a Strict Study Schedule Learning a language requires constant repetition and consistent investment. In learning a new language, one must also learn how to set up a routine and keep to it. Allowing one’s self to observe a strict study schedule will speed up and enhance the quality of the learning process. But it isn’t as simple as just allotting one hour a day to study vocabulary and grammar. The learner should take into account the intensity of study as opposed to just the length of study.
These pockets of time in which one will devote to reviewing the language must be all-consuming and dynamic. It demands deep focus and effort from the learner. Rather than spending an hour a day doing light reviews of past lessons, consider four hours of daily rigorous study. Opt out of daily half-baked study sessions over the course of several years. Consistent thorough studying over the course of several weeks will yield better results in a shorter span of time.
Step 7: Visualize Your Goals
It is rare for people begin learning a language for no reason, especially considering how difficult it is.
Often there is a specific catalyst for doing so, whether it be a job, a lover, or even something as simple as a movie. All these things can inspire individuals to take it upon themselves to learn a language different from their own. It is helpful to keep these things visible to the learner, as it can motivate them to continue learning when they’ve reached a slump.
These visual cues can offer people incentives to keep working until they are able to fulfill their goals.
Motivation is just as important as effort, the lack of which renders all the energy and time exerted into learning a language fruitless. As with anything, it is easy to feel discouraged when the reward for hard work isn’t immediately obtained. But the mere act of catching a glimpse of those rewards reminds people why they are doing what they are doing in the first place. This boost in motivation will make any language learner more willing to work hard to achieve fluency.
Step 8: Write Notes by Hand
Handwriting notes has been scientifically proven to improve memory retention. This is in comparison to typing it out on the computer, which is common practice in the digital age. This is because the physical act of writing requires critical thinking. The brain engages with whatever the learner is focusing on as they transcribe everything down on paper. The effort it takes to write notes by hand sends the brain signals that say the lesson is worth remembering. While typing down notes on a computer neglects to engage certain areas of the brain that deals with memory formation.
This in turn decelerates the learning process. Manual transcribing encourages the learner to process the information and understand it. It activates circuits and cells in the brain that bring the information a learner digests to the forefront. The written word stimulates a recognition of crucial information that is vital in learning a language. The result is a learner that retains information better. All while their learning experience becomes easier and more efficient.
Step 9: Use Flashcards
Using flashcards is a cheap and effective learning tool that aids in committing information to memory.
A daily run through of flashcards allows one to quickly review lessons and embed bits of knowledge into their brain. When a learner goes through a deck of flashcards, they are engaging in a process called active recall. This happens when the individual tries to remember the answer to the clue written on the back of the flashcard. Active recall forces the brain to store knowledge to be recalled when needed. Continuous repetition of flashcard reviewing also aids in long-term memory retention.
This is especially helpful in languages because vocabulary and grammar become second-nature. The knowledge sits in the learner’s brain over the long term and they are able to retrieve it with minimal effort. This makes for more natural conversation with less awkward pauses. One effective method a learner must keep in mind when using flashcards is this: weed out the ones they already know. This cuts down the time used to go through them and instead focus on the weak spots that the learner has yet to commit to memory. Flash card reviewing is a familiar approach to learning, and it is still one of the most effective ones.
Step 10: Prepare Visual Aids
Visual aids are an effective way to enhance the communication and learning process. Associating vocabulary with tangible objects makes them easier to memorize and recall. Examples of which include pictures, videos, and graphic organizers, to name a few. A short exercise that any learner can carry out is by first identifying all the objects in their room in the language they are learning.
Afterward, they can label them with the corresponding words using sticky notes.
These visual aids force the learner to remember them each time they see them. Each object that is successfully committed to memory will have the sticky note removed until there are no more notes left. This little activity keeps learning fun and interesting. It is also an effective way to strengthen and reinforce a learner’s ability to remember and recall vocabulary. This is especially true for spatial learners, although it applies to all learners with different learning styles as well.
Step 11: Revert Back to Childhood It’s said that children are better learners when it comes to languages than adults. In reality, babies are no better language learners than adults. There are no studies that show a direct link between reduced language learning abilities and increased age. This common misconception should not hinder anyone from fulfilling their own learning potential. There is a reason behind that odd statistic though. That being because for children, learning a language is a sink-or-swim situation.
They are born with a brain devoid of any cohesive form of communication. It’s this type of urgency that one needs to feel when learning a new language. There is a hunger and curiosity in a child that a learner must emulate when learning a language. By adopting this attitude, a learner can immerse themselves in the learning experience. This total immersion environment is vital if the learner intends to become fluent in their chosen language.
Step 12: Embrace Mistakes
People should not be afraid to make mistakes. Instead, they should embrace them. Everyone is bound to make errors at one point in their life; it is just a natural part of life. Being able to commit mistakes means that learning is happening and progress is underway. This is especially true for language learners. A person is sure to make hundreds upon hundreds of mistakes while learning a new language. This just means that they are using and practicing the language. This is much more conducive to achieving fluency than having the information sit idly in their brain.
The core and essence of language learning is communication. It should be enough to be able to convey essential information, especially if the learner is only just a beginner. It is healthy to strive for perfection, but one should remember that it is not essential. What is most important is the ability to use the language to communicate in an effective and intelligible manner, even if that means making a couple of thousand mistakes in the quest to be able to do so.
Step 13: Learn How to Listen
Learning how to speak is not the only thing language learners need to focus on. Another aspect to take into consideration is learning how to listen. By improving their listening skills, learners can detect patterns in language. This can help improve their grammar and structures when speaking. It is not enough to be able to understand and write in their chosen language. A learner who listens well is able to notice details in a language and is better able to mimic or parrot them.
Extensive and repeated listening of a language sets up structures in the brain required to learn a new language. This can help in understanding a new language. This tissue also grows by listening to the language, which is how babies learn their first language. Putting the language to use is always the most important step to take towards fluency. But the ability to listen well speeds up that process and will greatly benefit the learner in the long run.
Step 14: Read Children’s Books
It might seem silly, but reading children’s books in a foreign language is a great way to improve critical reading skills. The vocabulary and grammar used in these books are often straight-forward and simple. Thus they are easy to understand but are still educational. The familiarity of these stories also allows the learner to make use of context clues to guess the meanings of certain words. The vocabulary is largely repetitive in most books, which facilitates memory retention.
Reading children’s literature is an engaging way to strengthen and improve comprehension skills.
These books are also filled with example usage of simple sentence patterns and tense structures. As previously mentioned, the basis of language learning is communication. The learner is able to do exactly that when they manage to read and understand children’s literature. Further along the line in their language learning journey, they can move on to more difficult text to improve their skills.
Step 15: Consume Foreign Media You Find Interesting Watching TV shows and movies in the language a learner is studying is a good exercise in listening skills. While reading newspapers, books and magazines are excellent sources of improving both reading skills. Consuming foreign media that an individual enjoys makes the learning process fresh and engaging. Learners also understand how native speakers use the language in conversational and informal settings. This teaches the individual to speak in a natural manner that doesn’t seem forced or awkward.
Engaging in these forms of media also puts the learner in a headspace in which they are excited to learn the language. Learners must make sure to turn off subtitles when watching TV shows and movies. These are counterintuitive to learning and often distract from hearing the language. It is best to use the subtitles in the language they are trying to learn instead. Although these are all great resources for learning, they cannot replace legitimate practice. They are merely supplements for learning.
Step 16: Listen to Radio Stations The ability to listen well is put into practice when one listens to the radio in their chosen language.
The songs featured on the radio feature a diverse selection of music from all over the country. The learner can discover new music and delve into the current musical culture of the country. These songs feature new vocabulary and expressions set to the tune of a catchy rhythm which aids in memorization. Between songs, there is almost always a DJ who speaks to introduce songs or make announcements. Through these small intervals of talk, the learner can pick up vocabulary and grammar skills. which focusing on native intonation and accent.
Although it may tempting to skip past commercials, they are actually an added educational benefit.
These advertisements introduce new phrases and vocabulary and test listening comprehension by how quickly they play. One way to enjoy listening to commercials on the radio is to make a game out of it.
Most commercials feature commonplace items found in a home. If a person does not understand the commercial, it’s easy to try and guess what the product is. Later on when the same commercial comes back on, the learner can try to name the brand and seek out vocabulary words. Listening to the radio is fun and educational and is recommended for listening comprehension.
Step 17: Learn Practical Phrases A good place to start learning a new language is learning universal greetings. These phrases are used in everyday conversation, thus a learner will be able to practice these often. People should practice and process language, not just memorise it, in order for it to sink in. These simple words are a gateway to communication and practical usage. The brain tends to place more importance on memories that have involve social experiences. The reason for this is because they have emotions tied to them, thus they resonate better in memory.
Practicing implementing simple pleasantries into everyday conversation allows for the learner to make connections. These connections may be with native fluent speakers who can provide real-time feedback. The learner is able to correct their grammar, pronunciation and intonation in a way that makes them sound more natural. These simple phrases alone will get a learner far, and so they are vital in learning languages. Especially when an individual is only just beginning their learning experience.
Step 18: Record and Listen to Yourself Self-correction is vital in being able to speak a language fluently, especially if the learner is self-studying rather than taking part in group classes. By listening to one’s self, the individual is able to focus on the production of sounds and tones that they need to improve or correct. This method comes in handy when a person is learning tonal languages, such as Mandarin Chinese or Thai. These languages are reliant on the use of pitch in language to distinguish different meanings of words.
Thus, practice and self-correction are vital in being able to speak these kinds of languages. One trick to adopting this method into a learner’s study habits is to mimic native speakers. The learner can get a hold of audio recordings of native fluent speakers with which they can compare their recordings to.
This method is effective as it is a convenient and cheap way to improve one’s speaking skills.
Step 19: Tolerate Ambiguity
Language is not just a method of communication, but also the heart of a country’s culture. There are certain nuances a learner just cannot understand without having lived in the country for years. And even then, the individual will still have difficulty in wrapping their head and tongue around these things. Examples of such are slang words or words with subtle differences in intentions or usage. A learner must be willing to accept this fact if they are to continue learning in an efficient manner. There are words and phrases that they simply cannot have a complete grasp of.
Phrases, slang, and idioms all have intuitive differences. These differences make it difficult, if not almost impossible for non-native speakers to become fluent. There are certain differences that only native speakers who grew up around the culture can understand. This is in keeping with the previous method of accepting that fluency is too abstract a goal to pursue. It is important to remember that it is just not possible. It is something to keep in mind when a learner feels overwhelmed by the breadth of the language they are studying.
Step 20: Learn the 100 Most Common Words There is a HUGE amount of words in a single language. It is often overwhelming to a learner and in some cases, deters them from continuing to learn. It is best to start with 100 of the most common words and phrases in a learner’s chosen language. These must be practical and have frequent everyday use. One good way to determine which words to include in a vocabulary like this is for the individual to pay attention to how they speak.
They can distinguish which words they say often and list them down. These words will be the basis of their vocabulary list. It is also helpful to create different sentences using these words for practice.
This method is helpful in whittling down what is essential to learn and what is not as important. This allows the learner to spend more time learning more useful phrases and vocabulary that they can make immediate practical use of.
Step 21: Converse With Native Speakers As mentioned before, language needs practice. A learner must devote time to speaking it rather than just memorizing it in order for their tongue to become comfortable with the language. This is where conversing with natives comes into play. One need not fly halfway around the world and live in a strange, foreign land to do this. The internet is abundant with websites that allows the learner to practice speaking or writing skills, or both. These programs are often free and signing up for them is easy.
It is convenient to find language partners that assist in tutoring and correction on the internet. Skype is also an invaluable way to chat with native speakers. An hour or so of conversation in the chosen language with a native is almost as good as a day spent in the classroom. If the learner lives in or nearby a place where there are a lot of native speakers of this language, it is good to converse with them. Most people are more than willing to help. This experience also provides a large network for the learner to understand their culture better.
Step 22: Keep a Journal Written in the Chosen Language Language learners improve their writing and comprehension skills when they keep a journal. The learner should write in their chosen language, even if they are simple sentences. In time, the learner benefits from journal-keeping by being more aware of their own learning process. It is also motivates the learner to set benchmarks for themselves to write a better entry every time. These journals help the learner learn vocabulary and grammar skills as they are able to express themselves.
The need to convey their feelings forces them to learn words and phrases in the language that best impart what they mean to say. It is an established fact that writing also helps memory retention. So learners will be able to memorize these lessons quicker. Writing on a personal journal is just the same as speaking it. It is impossible to write without speaking the words first in the head. In this way, it is a comprehensive practical learning experience.
Step 23: Improve Your Accent
The accent used in a foreign language is just as important as grammar and vocabulary. This is especially true for tonal languages. One wrong pronunciation can modify the entire tone and message of a sentence. While it is not important to be too strict on the accent, it is still something to keep in mind. After all, the essence of language is communication. A terrible accent can be a barrier to effective discourse. Aside from the previous methods mentioned, a learner can also observe how natives speak.
A learner can observe the placement of their tongue or shape of their mouths as they speak. This is especially useful for languages like Korean. The placement of the tongue inspired the characters used in the Korean alphabet known as hangeul. The learner should also take note of the various intonations that a native speaker uses in different settings. When they are formal, speaking to their friends, angry, or happy. These help in ensuring that speaking comes out as natural as possible.
Step 24: Make Learning Fun
A lot of learners give up learning simply because they are just not inspired anymore. It is important to keep things fresh if a learner intends to study long-term. Rather than sitting in a classroom or reading a book, there are various computer and smart applications to try. These applications aid in pronunciation and vocabulary memorization. There are also fun games that engage the learner in challenges that help them retain the lessons they’ve learned.
It is easy to burn out when an individual does nothing but rigorous study with a textbook. It is important to keep language learning a personal and engaging experience. Finding language partners, going to group events, or going out of one’s way t practice the language. All these ensure that a learner does not fall into the trap of boredom only to give up. It is a waste not to at least try to mix things up when hobbies become stale, especially once they’ve come a long way to get where they are.
Step 25: Find Like-Minded People Finding like-minded individuals who share the same language-learning goals is important. A lack of motivation is the number one killer of success. Having company on the same path to fluency decreases the likelihood of losing steam along the way. Learners who find a community that thrives on curiosity and knowledge will always feel inspired. Everyone can feed off of the energy to learn and thus they will feel more inclined to keep learning. These individuals can also share tips and tricks that help a learner to learn effectively.
People also feel accountable once they’ve shared their goals with different people. By being more open about their experiences, an individual will be less likely to back out of language learning –
especially ones who have come so far. It is good to have positive and curious minds surrounding the learner as this will make them realize that they are not alone. There are other individuals who are learning and making the same mistakes just as they are.
Step 26: Have a Dictionary in Hand Whether they be electronic or traditional, dictionaries are a crucial tool in language learning. While the learner should not rely too much on it, it is still necessary to have in hand in case a word needs looking up. When reading new material, a learner will always encounter words they do not understand. Having a dictionary in hand will help them digest the text better. A vocabulary notebook also goes hand-in-hand with the dictionary.
By writing the newly encountered words they’ve looked up, they will be better retained in memory.
The learner can also review these words and test themselves for maximum memory retention.
Interacting with friends in the chosen language or writing in a daily journal also helps the learner pick up new words as they go. A dictionary with a thesaurus can even help them find variations of words they want to use to better convey what they want to say.
Step 27: Be Willing to Ask Questions
“How do I say ________?” is the most useful phrase in a language learner’s vocabulary. It is important to trust one’s ability to find a way to work things out. But the quality of being curious and willing to ask questions is also necessary in ensuring achieving success. There is no shame in asking for help when one cannot understand something. One must accept that they cannot know everything.
And not knowing just means that they now have the opportunity to learn and grow. Having a childlike curiosity and willingness to learn speeds up the learning process tenfold.
It also encourages the learner to feel involved. By asking questions and staying hungry for knowledge, a learner can expect to find profound insight. They also gain a new perspective that they never would have had they not just inquired about their curiosities. Questions give the learner an opportunity to appreciate something new and open their minds. Questions allow an individual to escape the confines of what they think they know, and lead them to become enlightened.
Step 28: Be Willing to Ask Questions A recurring tip here seems to be that language needs practice and that couldn’t be truer. A learner needs to make real world output of the knowledge they’ve gained from language learning. Lest it just go to waste by sitting and festering in their brain. Putting all they’ve learned to action makes it concrete. This gives the learner more confidence to speak the language and use it in a practical way.
It also allows the learner to gain more incentive to speak it because they now have goals and benchmarks to meet. Simple examples of real world output include greeting fluent speakers in their native language. Another one would be traveling to the country for vacation or study, and conversing with locals. If a learner reaches a certain level, they may even find a job that utilizes the skill to speak their chosen language. Not only will this be a way for them to cash in on their hard work, but it is also the ultimate classroom from which they can learn and improve.
Step 29: Consider One-On-One Tutoring Another way to become fluent is to enroll in one-on-one tutoring. It is not the cheapest method, but it is a very efficient use of time. Setting aside money for an excellent tutor to sit with a few hours every day might be the most efficient way to learn the language. This is because it is putting the language to practice with a native speaker who is trained to correct and tutor learners.
They have a special skill set for determining which methods work for a student. This ensures that the student effectively learns and retains the lessons they tackle. If a learner has enough time and money to spend on a tutor, it is often an worthwhile investment. The returns come in the form of being fluent in a language in as little time and maybe not as much effort as it would take studying alone or with a large class.
Step 30: Try Thinking in the New Language Challenging one’s self to think the language is a fun and fresh way to engage in the learning process. If real-world output is hard to come by or if the learner just has time to spare, they can run monologues in the chosen language in their heads. It is a good way to pass the time but also a way in which they can practice sentence construction in a conversation. When the learner engages in real-life interactions, they will find that the conversation will flow much more smoothly.
Having questions in the learners head that they have prepared answers to will enable them to speak without clearly. This also eliminates the need for awkward pauses to think about what to say or poor sentence structure. Having a dictionary comes in handy when doing this too. A learner can create dialogs with language they do not yet know and will have to translate. This aids in the memorization and learning process.
Step 31: Never Settle for Less
At last we’ve come to the end of this book, but it is still not the end of any language learner’s journey.
These tips and tricks might be useful to some but at the end of the day they mean nothing if the learner does not have the willingness to succeed. It might not be recommendable to strive to be fluent, but it is still important to not settle for less. Anyone who wishes to learn a new language must continue to challenge themselves to become better speakers and learners than they were yesterday.
They must yearn to be functional in the language and able to communicate their thoughts without difficulty. Accepting failure or subpar performance is counterproductive to the language learner’s journey. They should be willing to persevere until they meet the goals they have set for themselves.
They must also have the discipline to keep using the language. Rather than letting the skills they’ve worked hard to acquire go to waste. At the end of the day, it is up to the learner and how willing they are to succeed.
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Preview of “Ultimate Morning Routine”
Preview chapter of “Ultimate Morning Routine: The Wake Up Success Guide to Build the Ritual That Will Help You Achieve Any Goal and Build a Good Life Based on Your Unlimited Motivation in the Morning”:
You hear it all the time, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Aside from being linked to many health benefits, eating breakfast can give you the energy that you need for the morning so you can avoid the morning slump. It also gives you enough endurance for physical activities.
Moreover, you may not feel hungry right away but when you do, it might be at the time when it’s no longer convenient to eat. This is one important reason why you must never skip your breakfast.
Best Breakfast For A Busy Morning
Here are some healthy breakfast options that you can eat before heading to work or school: 1. Milk and other milk products such as low-fat yogurt and low-fat milk.
- Grain and bread such as muffin, toast, and cereal.
- Vegetable or fruits like apples, bananas, or carrots.
Preview of the Table of Contents of “Ultimate Morning Routine”: Wake Up Early
To-Do List Will Help You Focus
Eat the Right Breakfast
Your Body Is Your Temple
Respond to Important Mails and Calls
Plan the Day Ahead
Preview of “The Habit Forming Guide”
Preview chapter of “The Habit Forming Guide: Get Into Your Mind and Form the Habits That Will Improve Your Life, Break Bad Habits and Replace Them With Good Once! Be Who You Want and Decide Where to Go Next”:
Now that you are equipped with the steps in forming good habits, you are ready to decide on which good habits to form. Your choice really depends on what type of habits you had and what type of life you want to live. These good habits make perfect alternatives for the old ones.
What are good habits? Generally, good habits are the things that you do to keep you healthy, that make you productive and the things that make you happy. There are two things that you have to remember about good habits.
First, a good habit is not equivalent to a life goal. Rather, good habits are both the means and the result of your goals. If you know what you want to achieve in life, then you are more inspired to change for the better. You are motivated to break your bad habits and you are moved to build better ones. Forming good habits is one of the most essential steps in achieving your goals. For example, you are aiming to get promoted to the managerial level. This can be possible by improving your work performance. Getting to the office on time, doing good in your reports and accomplishing your daily tasks extraordinarily well can be all it takes to get that position you have been dreaming of.
And second, a good habit should aim to change your lifestyle, not your life. Jogging around the village for an hour is life-changing but it may not exactly be a good habit. Why is this so? Jogging for an hour every day may help you shed off some weight or may help you get that figure you have been longing
for, but it tires your muscles out so much so that your muscles might end up sore at the end of the day.
Remember that it is best to take everything slowly, one step at a time. The greater the steps you make, the farther you get from the finish line.
What are the good habits that you need to develop?
Good Habits to De-Stress …
Good Habits to Be More Productive …
Good Habits to Stop Procrastination …
Good Habits to Get You at the Top of Your Game …