Strategy and Method

10 Hacks to learning a new language

By July 7, 2020 No Comments
opening secrets to language learning

opening secrets to language learning

Learning a new language is a fun and exciting journey filled with amazing discoveries and a great sense of achievement. But without the proper plan or guidance, language learning can become difficult and frustrating. Becoming fluent in a new language takes time and dedication. But there are techniques that can reduce the time needed to accomplish the level of fluency you desire.

Here are some language learning tips, or hacks that will speed up your language learning and keep you motivated and focused on achieving your goal.

  1. Learn on the go
  2. Give yourself a weekly challenge
  3. Use your interests and hobbies to improve your language vocabulary
  4. Use the Lexical Approach
  5. Use you home for language immersion
  6. Write down your goals
  7. Take advantage of downtime
  8. Use tiny habits
  9. Use Anki for flashcards
  10. Find good language resources and stick with them

Study while commuting

1) Learn on the go

If finding the time to study is the biggest obstacle you face, you are not alone. You may be motivated and dedicated but if you truly don’t have the time to sit down every evening and study, then try learning on the go.

Language apps are a perfect tool for this if they fit in with your language program. Small 15 minute bite-size lessons are ideal for busy language learners looking to squeeze in a lesson on your lunch break or the bus ride home.

 

Teacher giving weekly challenge

2) Give yourself a weekly challenge

To improve in anything in your life, you need to challenge yourself. Language learning is no different.

Every week you should write down one thing that you will do to increase your fluency. This can be something simple like learning five vocabulary words every day this week, or posting on twitter in your target language, or watching a movie in your target language without subtitles.

If you need help coming up with some ideas for weekly challenges, sign up for our weekly newsletter. We include a new challenge every week.

Studying your interests

3) Use your interests and hobbies to improve your language vocabulary

Even the most dedicated language student can sometimes feel bored or burnt out when studying a new language. Incorporating your interests and hobbies into your study routine is a great way to keep things interesting. For example, many Japanese language students use anime and manga as part of their regular study plan.

Whether your interest is cooking, hiking, sailing or knitting, you can make a list of English words that relate to your interest and translate those words into your target language. When you get more advanced, you can even spend some time on forums or facebook groups related to your interest, in your target language.

Memorize phrases

4) Use the Lexical Approach

 

The simple explanation for this approach is to learn phrases in your target language instead of individual vocabulary. Yes, vocabulary and grammar are important, but there are phrases in all languages that are used often that may not make sense if you break each word down to its original meaning. For instance, in English, the phrase “make up your mind” is well understood by all English speakers. But if you didn’t speak English and tried to translate each word into your native language, it wouldn’t make sense.

This approach allows you to learn the language one phrase at a time instead of one word at a time. This increases fluency by giving language students clear and simple phrases to use in different situations instead of having to think of individual words to use as well as the proper grammar.

home immersion

5) Use your home for language immersion

You don’t have to travel to a different country to practice language immersion. You can easily transform your home or office so that you are surrounded by a new language. One simple and cheap tool for this is post-it notes.

Start with one room, and label everything with words from your target language. In a few days you will easily and quickly know the word for desk, chair, computer, mirror, light, etc. in your target language. We have a great blog post expanding on this idea called The lazy students way to learn vocabulary.

Another great idea for immersion is to plan a full weekend at home where you transform your world into a place where you only use your target language. Surround yourself with language resources. For the entire weekend you will only read books, listen to music, watch movies and surf the internet in your target language. You should even get a cookbook to cook some food associated with the language of your choice. If you can get a study partner to do this with, even better.

This method not only increases your fluency quickly, but also motivates you to keep learning. Many of our students who use this technique say they feel even more dedicated to learning after their immersion weekend.

Learn Japanese with LinguaLift

writing your goals

6) Write down your goals

We all have different reasons for learning a new language. For some, it’s to connect with friends or family. For others, it’s a career move. And for some, it may be simply the joy of learning.

We also have different ideas of success when it comes to language acquisition. While some students strive to be a native level speaker, others just want to get by when they visit a foreign country.

Whatever the reason, before starting out on your language journey, you should write down why you want to learn a language, what level of fluency you hope to achieve, and the timeline you plan to do this in.  And put this in a place where you will see it everyday.

Use this as motivation when you feel too tired to study your vocabulary, or you’re getting frustrated with confusing grammar rules. Remind yourself why you are doing this.

You can see some great stories from our students on their reasons for learning a language on our Instagram page. We call our students LinguaLites. Check out their stories.

listening to your target language

7) Take advantage of downtime

Learning a language takes much effort, focus and determination. But there are also ways to advance your progress that takes very little effort.

As I’ve already mentioned, home immersion is a great tool for any language learner. And there are some great ways to expose yourself to your target language even when you are not studying. Some examples would include watching shows or movies in your target language using English subtitles. Or listening to music, news, or a podcast.

These are easy actions that can be done on a daily basis. Which leads into our next great hack, tiny habits.

using tiny habits

8) Use tiny habits

This concept was created by Stanford University researcher BJ Fogg. He described these habits as something you can do every day and requires little effort (should take just a few seconds to do).

How do you incorporate this into your language routine? First, pick an existing behavior that you do everyday like making coffee in the morning, or brushing your teeth.

Then use this behaviour as a trigger to perform your chosen language learning habit. For example, you could say:

After I make my coffee in the morning, I will listen to the radio in my target language.

Or, After I brush my teeth at night, I will review ten vocabulary words.

These are just small simple actions to help you on your language learning journey, but the magic of this technique is in its consistency. If you do a couple of these simple things every single day, it becomes a very effective way to improve your language skills.

For a more complete explanation of this technique, check out or blog post, How to build a new language learning habit in 3 simple steps.

Anki flashcards

9) Use Anki for flash cards

Flash cards may seem a little “old school”, but Anki, with their spaced repetition algorithm makes this technique one of the most effective methods for learning vocabulary.

As you study your vocabulary, the words you keep getting correct, you begin to see less and less. And the words you have trouble with, you see more often. The program is designed to slowly increase the time between seeing each word which helps your brain place these words into your long term memory.

There are lists of vocabulary to study in almost every language, or you can make your own.

Spaced repetition software is the most effective way to learn vocabulary and phrases. Which is why we use it in our language learning software as well.

choosing resources

10) Find good language learning resources and stick with them

If you’ve spent much time studying a language, you’ve probably fallen into the trap of spending hours and hours online looking for that perfect language learning technique or resource that will solve all your language learning troubles. I know I have multiple times!

Let me give you some good news and bad news here. The bad news is, there is no magic pill or technique that will make you fluent in a new language overnight. Not even in three months. Stay away from websites that make these claims.

Now for the good news. A clear study plan utilizing effective resources is key to learning a new language. Check out our post on the best language learning resources. Try some of them out, but remember, your valuable time needs to be spent studying the language, not searching for new resources.

This is why we provide our students with their own “road map” to follow. This ensures you are spending your time studying the language and not searching for resources. Even though we offer a complete language learning program, we realize there are excellent outside resources our students can take advantage of. But again, focus on your studies and not on finding that magic pill.

 

The truth is, learning a new language takes dedication and hard work. But these 10 hacks should make your journey to fluency a little easier. Try out these techniques and let us know how they work for you.