Do you want to learn a new language on your own but don’t know how to go about it? This post will give you some easy and effective tips.
People learn foreign languages for many reasons, including just for fun, intending to travel or move to a new country, to improve their eligibility for job opportunities and job transfers, to fit into a particular culture, and to make new friends, among others. Whatever your reasons are, learning a new language, especially on your own, is not an easy thing to do for most adults. But it is not impossible either.
Learning new languages on your own requires discipline, dedication, and willingness to learn and keep trying even when you feel like you are failing at it. Since being multilingual has numerous benefits, this post will give you a few tips to help you learn a new language on your own easily.
How to Learn a New Language on Your Own Fast
- Set S. M. A. R. T. goals
It is easy to say you want to learn a particular language, but actually starting and seeing it through is another matter. For many, this ends up being only a vague statement, and others who do start learning lose interest along the way. If you want to learn a new language on your own, you need to set goals and come up with ways to achieve them.
Setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) goals will help you stay focused and motivated to keep learning. You know what you are trying to achieve, how to accomplish it, and by when. For instance, when learning a new language, you can plan to learn 20 words per day, every week, or per month. It is a clearer goal that will be more achievable than just saying you want to learn a new language.
Remember to include your reasons for wanting to learn the new language as it can further increase your determination to keep learning.
- Make use of language learning apps and online courses
Thanks to the advancement of technology, people can learn and do plenty of things by themselves. Learning new languages is one of the things technology has made easier. Today, there are numerous language learning apps, software, and online language learning courses all over the internet that can help you learn new languages on your own from anywhere and whenever you want, and most are free.
Many language learning apps also provide audio lessons that help you strengthen your listening and speaking skills. You can listen and learn new words, their pronunciation, and how to use them in sentences. If you want to learn new languages fast, consider downloading language learning apps such as Duolingo, Babbel, Memrise, LinguaLift, and Busuu, among others.
- Begin with frequently used words or phrases
Since you are just starting, there is no need to learn complex new words in the target language that you may never use or even remember. Instead, when learning a new language on your own, you should begin with the alphabet followed by words and phrases you already use frequently and others that you can use to ask for help while in foreign territory. Some common frequently used words and phrases you should start with when learning a new language include;
- The 6W1H i.e. what, why, where, who, when, which, and how
- Pronouns i.e. I, my, you, your, we, he, she, they, it, etc.
- Basic verb tenses i.e. present, past, and future
- Numbers 1 to 10
- Frequently used verbs such as eat, say, go, sleep, drink, etc.
- Greetings and their responses such as hello, good morning, etc.
- Polite expressions such as please, excuse me, sorry, etc.
- Days of the week
These words will help you follow basic conversations, ask questions and understand the answers. However, instead of learning single words, you should try learning their use as phrases, such as “How are you?” “My name is____,” “Thank you,” etc. Repeat what you learn in a sentence over and over until you feel comfortable saying it out loud. But don’t overdo it. When learning a new language on your own, space out the word and phrase repetition sessions to allow new vocabulary to sink into your head.
- Watch foreign-language TV shows and movies
Who said learning a foreign language has to be boring? Make learning a new language on your own a fun experience by watching foreign TV shows and movies in your target language. Watch with the subtitles that translate them on the first time, and then repeat with no subs to test how much of the story you can follow.
Learning new languages by watching TV shows and movies is not only more fun and easy but also more effective than just reading words and phrases from a text. You can also relate the words to what is happening on the screen, which will make it easier to understand and apply them in real-life situations. For example, if you want to learn Spanish, you could binge-watch some cheesy telenovelas.
- Listen to music in your target language
Listening to music in the foreign language on repeat also helps you learn new phrases and how they are pronounced. Soon you will want to sing along or even dance to it. But before doing that, make sure to get the translation of the lyrics so you know what you are singing about to avoid saying offensive, rude, or explicit words unknowingly.
Do you remember when everyone was crazy about the song Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee until they translated the lyrics and realized their meaning wasn’t so innocent? You want to avoid embarrassing yourself like that.
As you are learning a new language on your own, you could combine listening to music with watching the song’s video with the subtitles on or look for lyric videos that have translated the song.
- Speak with others
So you have mastered several phrases and words in the foreign language you set out to learn and, perhaps, even think in it sometimes. That shouldn’t be the end of your journey of learning a new language. Say what you have learned out loud and speak with other people in the new language as much as possible.
Don’t wait for your pronunciation to be perfect or to know all the words and phrases in the target language because there will probably never be a time when you feel 100% ready and confident to start a conversation using the new language. It will be better if you just get started with what you know, practice, and keep learning along the way.
Answer phone calls in the target language, record yourself speaking, learn together and practice with a friend, or find someone who already speaks the language. At first, you will probably say some silly things, and, perhaps, you will also feel like you are making a fool of yourself sometimes. But that is okay. Mistakes are the best ways to learn and improve. They say practice makes perfect, and that is what will happen to you when you keep learning and speaking the new language often.
- Immerse yourself in the language
Learning a new language is not just about grammar, spelling, pronunciation, and making complete sentences. If you ask any language learning expert, they will tell you that one of the best ways to learn a new language on your own is through immersion. You need to experience the culture and all the aspects of the life of the native speakers of the language you wish to learn.
To immerse yourself in the new language and culture of its native speakers, you could travel to a country or area that speaks your target language or find a community that speaks it fluently within your country and spend more time with them. You can also surround yourself with TV, radio, magazines, and other materials in the target language. You could decide to speak primarily in the language you are learning for a while.
All these situations and activities will force you to hear and speak the new language frequently. Immersion is the technique kids use to learn new languages, and it can work for you too. Remember to have a pocket dictionary or phone with you to look up the meaning of the new words you learn every day.
- Write it all down
Even though we are in the digital age, never underestimate the power of writing things by hand. Writing and speaking go hand in hand when learning a new language. Therefore, put every new vocabulary you discover in writing along with the translation. With the words you have learned so far, you could also try to construct sentences and write them down as well.
According to studies, writing things down makes it easier for you to remember them. As you revise later, oftentimes, you will recall the circumstances under which you learned and wrote those words, which will help you know when to use the words in conversation. Writing new words and phrases down every day makes learning a new language on your own easier as it will improve your writing, reading, and speaking skills.
More tips for learning a new language on your own;
- Use flashcards to improve your memory retention of the new phrases you have learned.
- Use your phone as a language learning tool by resetting the language in its apps or browser to the new language you want to learn. You will be forced to learn new vocabulary.
- Play word games and puzzles in your target language to improve your vocabulary.
- Join community language learning groups in your area to meet other people with similar goals.
Learning a new language on your own doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. All you need is discipline, determination, and patience. Be ready to put in the effort to learn and practice writing and speaking out loud the new words, phrases, and sentences you are learning each day. Above are some tips to help you learn a new language on your own fast.
Since we are all different, we learn and process things differently, and thus, different approaches will work differently for each of us. It is up to you to find out which among these are the best ways for you to learn a new language on your own. On this journey, you will need to be patient and give yourself time to learn. Just have fun learning the new language. And when you have mastered it, try another one! There are thousands of languages in the world waiting for you to learn them!
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