To be an efficient language learner you need to develop some skills that will help you succeed. These are personal attributes that can be extremely useful in life and in your language learning journey.
Ideal skills for language learners.
Make sure that you listen more to the new language especially at a beginner’s level. Some people study a second language exclusively with a book and very seldom are in contact with the verbal form of the language. They guess the pronunciation of words by reading the phonetic writings as their only guide.
They are oblivious of pronunciation, accent, intonation, and speed. No wonder they cannot understand anything when facing a conversation. They are unable to link the words they have painfully learned with the sounds they are hearing and not listening to. When exposed to the correct pronunciation, listening equates understanding.
You should be able to work on improving your focus in these times where we are all prone to distractions. If you work on upgrading your attention you will be at an advantage. You could use for example the Pomodoro system for your language study. Split your time into twenty-minute slots and assign a language activity to each. Remember to reserve at least twenty percent of your time for revision.
It will be difficult at times to stick to your language schedule, we all know that life gets often in our way. But, if you want to succeed in accomplishing your goals, you must learn to adapt to the circumstances and make the necessary changes to carry on in your language leaning journey. To achieve your goals, you must be flexible.
The only way to improve is by knowing where your weakness lies and only the feedback you receive will let you know. So, adopt a positive attitude to them. Welcome criticism as the way to achieve positive changes in your learning.
Teamwork is the dream work.
Even if you are an independent learner look for groups of like-minded language learners where you can find support, advice, direction, and practice. Remember that learning a language is a social skill.
Set yourself daily, weekly, and monthly goals - at times challenging- to push yourself further. Trying to constantly push yourself at improving will keep you. Motivated.
Have an overall plan. Brake this in small goals and tasks. Set a deadline to each. Every time you accomplish them and ticking them off your to-do list, your confidence will grow.
If you’re too embarrassed to use the new language, you might try to avoid the situations where you must do so. Don’t let your fear of making mistakes prevent you from enjoying these conversations with the natives where you can learn so much about their culture and themselves. Don’t miss on the opportunity of creating beautiful friendships that might last a lifetime, who knows.
Your lack of confidence might also push you to giving up learning the language by thinking that it’s a waste of time or that you will never be able to overcome your fear of speaking. When you are in this state of mind, it is easy to throw the towel and blame yourself for your failure. This might increase your low confidence and even it might permeate to other areas of your life, leading to frustration and disappointment.
Practice talking the language with a fellow learner or a native speaker regularly to improve your beliefs that you can use the language effectively. And as a plant grows, you will gradually become more assertive using your speaking skills.
Develop a positive mindset.
Have a growth mindset. Growth mindset is when people believe that they can develop their brain abilities.
Learners with a growth mindset develop a love for learning, a drive for growth and are resilient when facing setbacks. For them these just highlight problems and issues that they will need to deal with and learn from. They are always in the lookout for new learning opportunities. They learn from criticism and suggestions and are always seeking to implement new strategies to improve. They act on the feedback they receive.
Language students with a growth mindset always look for learning strategies that can help them improve (My blog newsletter is jam packed with them); and they look for the adequate solutions when they are confronted with setbacks. They find the right support; they invest time and effort in practising the language. They know they can develop their abilities and grow beyond expectation.
They crave feedback, because as previously mentioned, they know that it is an important tool for their growth. They cultivate a positive attitude to learning, they don’t give up, they try and try again until they get things right. Striving for excellence boosts their motivation.
Have a language learning journal to keep all your learning activities under control.
What will you include in your journal?
There is no general rule, and I insist you can be as creative as you wish, but you can follow these guidelines if you prefer.
Add a contents page to make it easier to find items in your notebook.
Create monthly, weekly, and daily schedule to organise your tasks.
Create pages to write down your monthly, weekly and daily goals .
I’m sure you’ve heard about this, but have you applied it in your language learning? SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound.
This helps you keep track of your daily language activities.
Log in your notebook the new vocabulary words with the corresponding sentences. Some people add a review counter which can be useful if you are not using a spaced-repetition App.
Write down the difficult grammar concepts that are hard to understand along with corresponding example sentences.
It is a useful way to ensure you write daily and practice the new vocabulary you've come across during your study. It allows you to translate words and expressions you often use in your mother tongue to your second language, thus increasing your vocabulary list not only in numbers but in quality. It is also the best way to help you create your own sentences in the foreign language.
Also have a section for writing quick notes or reminders that you can always come back to and organise as you see fit.
Also write in this section cultural information and advice.
Allocate a few pages to write down the resources that you use and especially the new ones that people recommend like Apps, useful websites, or books. Make a note before the information gets forgotten. You can always go back when you’re ready.
Manage your time effectively.
This skill is especially important and if you learn to excel at it, it will make the learning process more efficient.
These are only a few necessary skills you should have in your toolbox to optimise your language learning. You should also be patient and remember that learning a language is a marathon, not a sprint and the journey will be much more enjoyable if you keep your sense of humour especially when you happen to make a mistake in your new language.
To help you, DOWNLOAD The How To Create A Language Learning Notebook Cheat Sheet.