One aspect of language learning that is highly underestimated by most students is networking and communication with people who do not necessarily know the language themselves.
Immersion is all good and well but it does not mean that you should stop hanging out with the rest of the world and your family—who may not speak the language you’re learning, yet still have the potential to help you on your way to fluency.
Share your goals and progress
It is very important that you share your progress with your friends & family and justify your decision to learn it. This will motivate you and give you one more reason not to stop learning.
Sharing with your relatives is great, but to get the most of this strategy you should make your commitments as publicly as possible. Research suggests that public commitments are a truly powerful tool, and help fight our laziness on a subconscious level.
First, take a piece of paper, jot down the reason why you’re learning the language, and pin it onto your wall. Some of the more adventurous people go as far as printing a poster and displaying them in their windows.
You could also start a blog and share your achievements on social networks. The thing that we’d really encourage you to do is create a learning journal. There you can write all that you have learned and how you feel about it. Pretty soon you’ll get people following you and commenting on your progress!
Teach others, explain what you’re learning
As we all know, repetition is mother of knowledge, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the best way to learn a language, is to teach the language.
While the word ‘teacher’ is frequently associated with ultimate knowledge of a particular subject, you can in fact start teaching on the very first day you start learning it yourself.
Photo by kalebdf
The key is finding an interested listener whose knowledge of the target language is barely below yours. First Japanese class? Don’t be shy and greet your grandmother in Japanese next time you speak to her! Learned a new proverb? Explain its meaning to your Facebook friends!
What you teach doesn’t even have to be practical in itself. Pointing out interesting features of the language and cultural tidbits can be as beneficial.
Every time you transfer your knowledge to someone else, you will better understand the information yourself, and cement that knowledge into your memory.
Don’t worry about not having teaching skills or experience! If you are truly interested in the language you’re about to learn, you’ll sound engaging enough as it is. Once you’ve learned how to count in Japanese, there is nothing stopping you from teaching others how to do so too.