If you don’t have a good reason to learn a language, you are less likely to stay motivated over the long-run. No matter your reason, once you’ve decided on a language, it’s crucial to commit.
If you can’t get a sibling to join you on your language adventure, having any kind of partner will push both of you to always try just a little bit harder and stay with it. You have someone with whom you can speak, and that’s the idea behind learning a language.
If you make conversation a goal from the beginning, you are less likely to get lost in textbooks.You’re learning a language to be able to use it. The creative side is really being able to put the language that you’re learning into a more useful, general, everyday setting – be that through writing songs, generally wanting to speak to people, or using it when you go abroad.
The key to learning as quickly as a child may be to simply take on certain childlike attitudes: lack of self-consciousness, a desire to play in the language and willingness to make mistakes.
We learn by making mistakes. As kids, we are expected to make mistakes, but as adults mistakes become taboo. Think how an adult is more likely to say, “I can’t”, rather than, “I haven’t learned that yet”. When it comes to learning a language, admitting that you don’t know everything (and being okay with that) is the key to growth and freedom.
Willingness to make mistakes means being ready to put yourself in potentially embarrassing situations. No matter how much you learn, you won’t ever speak a language without putting yourself out there: talk to strangers in the language, ask for directions, order food, try to tell a joke. The more often you do this, the bigger your comfort zone becomes and the more at ease you can be in new situations.
You must learn to listen before you can speak. We’re able to pronounce anything, it’s just we’re not used to doing it. The best way to go about mastering that is actually to hear it constantly, to listen to it and to kind of visualize or imagine how that is supposed to be pronounced, because for every sound there is a specific part of the mouth or throat that we use in order to achieve that sound.
Different languages make different demands on your tongue, lips and throat. Pronunciation is just as much physical as it is mental. One way is to really look at someone while they’re saying words that use that sound, and then to try to imitate that sound as much as possible. If you can’t watch and imitate a native-speaker in person, watching foreign-language films and TV is a good substitute.
So you’ve made the pledge. How to proceed? Is there a proper way to go about learning? We recommend the 360° maximalist approach: no matter which learning tools you use, it’s crucial to practice your new language every single day.