Everyone learning a language has ‘the dream’ of fluency. However, most of the time, learners are not fully equipped for reaching this goal. They often have unrealistic expectations and assume that after a three-month course they will get what they want. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Learning a language takes time, motivation, planning and practice.
Here are 10 vital steps you should follow, if you want to learn effectively and efficiently your dream language.
1- Success is in the planning.
You should have a clear idea of the reasons why you want to learn the language. Is it just for fun, or because it is required for your job, or because you plan to travel to a country were this language is spoken?
You should ponder the following:
What do you want by learning a language?
➢ Why is it important to you?
➢ How can you achieve this?
➢ How will you know that you’ve reached your goal?
Answering these questions is of prime importance because it will shape your plan.
Imagine that you’re learning this language because your business is trading with a foreign company, you will have to learn specific vocabulary linked with your job to communicate with your foreign counterpart, so, your choice for a course will be different from someone else learning to go on a dream holiday.
Then, you should create concrete steps to lead you to your goal.
Make these realistic and remember that they should be compatible with the rest of your daily routine.
➢ Your goals should be challenging without overwhelming you.
➢ Your goals should be attainable (at least 50% chance of success).
➢ Think about short-term goals (3 to 6 months) as well as long-term ones (1 to
➢ Your goals should be S-M-A-R-T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound)
2- Have the right mindset
Everything that has ever been achieved started as a thought. You should believe that you can learn the language if you want to succeed.
“I’m rubbish at languages”.
How many times have you heard someone saying this, or maybe you’ve been repeating it to yourself for a while? It is scientifically proven that we get what we think, meaning that if you think you are unable to learn the new language, guess what, you won’t learn it. Remember that lots of people have been in your shoes and they have succeeded. If they can, you can. A positive attitude towards language learning goes a long way to unleash your full potential.
Visualising your language future helps you keep motivated.
There are many practices out there to help you gain self-confidence. One that have been useful to me is visualisation.
Visualise your language future and imagine that you’re getting great results daily. This method will keep you in contact with your inner motivation and will be the fuel to propel you towards your goals.
Whatever the reason why you’re studying the language, imagine the result you want to obtain. If you’re planning to move to the country where the language is spoken, imagine yourself there, doing loads of different daily activities, speaking perfectly in your target language, and the natives understanding every word you say because you’re fluent, the words come out effortlessly, and your accent is perfect. This method is backed up by Neuroscience.
Think of your goals as though they have already happened; feel the joy and satisfaction that you experiment, and your mind will create the opportunities to make them a reality.
Do this at least twice a day.
3- Create a routine
Planning your language daily activities will guaranty your success, because by creating a routine, avoidance will be less likely.
Try to include a different activity each day and especially don’t forget recreational activities in your target language- things that you enjoy doing in your free time- like watching a film, listening to music, chatting to friends. All these in the language you are studying.
For those of you able to do so, morning language activities are ideal because it is when the brain is at its full capacity to learn new things.
4- Be self- disciplined and accountable
Stick to your daily routine. Download the Habitfy App and program the time you plan to devote to your language study. The App will send you a reminder a few minutes before the planned schedule.
Learn to enjoy the learning process and do it until it becomes a habit. You will need less motivation when this happens.
Try to create a routine when executing your tasks (more in the link about motivation).
Switch off social media notifications.
5- Avoid distractions
Clearly define your priorities and free up your time to execute them.
Switch off your phone or at least the social media notifications.
Avoid distractions and commit until the task is done. You should get into the habit of completing them always.
6- Find an accountability body
As time passes by, you will notice that your enthusiasm will decrease. It happens to all of us. A way to keep motivated is to find an accountability buddy.
An accountability buddy will help you keep on track and push you towards your goal when you feel overwhelmed or demotivated. An accountability buddy is the one person who makes sure that you’re hitting your goals and support you all the way.
Tell him/her what you intend to do and by when. Always report back to him/her even though you haven’t reached the planned target.
You can be in contact daily, weekly or monthly, depending on what you’ve both settled. It is always good if your partner is a language learner as well because you can create some healthy rivalry which will help you both push forward.
7- Take it easy
It might seem counter-intuitive, but don’t get obsessed about learning the language. Obsession leads to stress and stress leads to the release of hormones that will impair your learning capacity making you less likely to improve as fast as if you had a more relaxed attitude about the process.
8- Create an immersion-like environment
An immersion-like environment will help you learn faster, and it is also fun.
Let's look at some ways you can make your surrounding an ideal place for language learning.
The right Mindset.
It involves some effort to make the choice to use your target language as much as possible during the day. Nowadays, technology and the internet can prove to be good allies.
Label every item in your home
it is a good exercise to find the words of each item and label them in your target language. The idea behind it is to learn this vocabulary effortlessly by seeing them on a constant basis and being able to recall and use them in your conversations.
Keep a journal
keeping a journal in your target language help you use the day to day vocabulary as you would if you were living in your target country. This leads to the next point.
This is an excellent way to implement your speaking skills. It will help you use your vocabulary whilst paying attention to pronunciation and areas in need of improvement and more practice.
Visit Restaurants where food of your target country is served
Usually native speakers gather in these and more than likely the owner and some of the staff will be from your target country. You might be able to start a friendship with some of the attendees if you go with some frequency. practice your speaking skills when interacting with waiters ordering food and drinks. You will get partly familiar to their culture overtime.
Have fun whilst still learning
Write down the topics you're interested in, the subjects you like reading, film genres you love, sports that thrill you. Find podcasts related to them in your target language. It's better if the podcast has the transcript of the show, Listen to them in a meaningful way.
9- Learn new vocabulary in context
Instead of learning isolated words, memorise expressions and phrases used by native speakers. This will prove to be more effective to your progress than learning endless lists of words.
When you learn phrases, you also learn the right grammar rules, verb conjugation and they will constitute powerful tools to make you sound more natural in your conversations.
10- keep being motivated
Always go back to your vision and keep your goals where you can see them daily. This will help you keep on track, and when you’re visualising the outcomes you’re pursuing, you are sending the right information to your subconscious mind which will help you solve the problems that come your way. Trust me on this one.
“Your subconscious mind begins attracting people, circumstances, ideas and resources into your life that will help you to achieve your goals even faster” BrianTracey
If you want to explore more about Effective Language learning, the Workshop “Build Your Language Learning Plan For Success” will help you do so.