How to learn a new language:
Learning a new language is challenging, frustrating, and sometimes just downright difficult. And figuring out the best way to learn a new language? That seems nearly impossible. Language hackers ask themselves these kinds of questions all the time.
We all want to use effective study methods so we can learn a language fast and speak it well. But many language teachers and programs are giving conflicting advice.
How can we know if we’re spending our time on the right things?
Fortunately, language learners aren’t the only ones who’ve been puzzling over these questions.
The linguists, the people who study the science of language, have spent decades observing how people learn languages. And while they don’t have all the answers yet, they have discovered a lot about what works and what doesn’t.
Best Ways to Learn a New Language
1. Set language-learning goals.
The first step to learning a new language fast is to set goals for what you want to achieve. When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. If you don’t set goals, how can you know what you want to achieve and measure whether you have achieved it?
Use these guidelines to get the most from your goals:
Focus on specific, tangible outcomes:
Set detailed goals, and focus on what you plan to learn rather than how much time you plan to study.
Challenge yourself (but not too much):
Goals work best when they make you push yourself. But if they’re too daunting, they can actually discourage you.
Set short-term goals:
It’s good to have an ultimate goal—the thing you eventually hope to achieve. But long-term goals are too overwhelming to motivate you on an everyday basis.
2. Study smart.
When learning your words, you’ll learn faster by using the very best study techniques.
For example, one of the best ways to learn vocabulary words is to use flashcards.
Flashcards help you focus on individual words and allow you to test yourself, which helps you memorize new information.
Some more great strategies for integrating new words
- Visualize and vocalize.
- Use the word in your native language.
- Keyword technique.
3. Mix old with new words.
Our brain always wants novelty, but attempting to learn a lot of new words at once can be overwhelming. Thus, to remember new concepts, you should mix them with familiar “old” information.
4. Focus on remembering and learning the sounds.
Babies have a remarkable ability to distinguish all sounds in all languages and remember them fast. That’s how we become experts in our native language.
Focus on repeating and practicing the difficult foreign sounds first, rather than mastering the grammar and vocabulary.
Studies prove that you should listen and learn to comprehend different accents and voices if you’d like to master a language faster.
Remember that the best possible outcome of speaking a language is communicating with others. Being able to have a simple conversation is a huge reward in itself.
Practice makes perfect, but effective practice makes perfect even faster!