How to learn a language (and stick at it) | Psyche Guides - Deepstash

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Learning a new language

Learning a new language

Learning a language is often presented as a task with a one-size-fits-all solution. But learning a new language is working out the goals and strategies specific to you.

Every language is different and presents its own challenges. When you learn a new language, forget about fluency. Set achievable, short-term and measurable goals that will give you a sense of achievement.

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Learning a new language: Deciding on the goals

At the beginning of learning a language, your goal could be to read a new alphabet or some basic phrases to introduce yourself. As you improve, you can add other goals.

Deciding on goals include how to get there. Consider what you want to get out of learning a new language. Do you want to chat with locals, or do you want to read untranslated novels? Clarity on your goals will help you to think strategically about the methods that will help you most.

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Methods for learning a language

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to language learning.

Available language methods:

  • Textbooks with written exercises.
  • An all-audio method like Language Transfer.
  • An online language course taught by an expert teacher.
  • A language tutor, where you book online lessons through Italki.
  • Apps such as Duolingo, Memrise and Babbel, vocabulary-building apps such as Drops, a spaced-repetition app like Anki, or Lingualism.
  • Lexilogos offers courses, dictionaries and resources.
  • The Open University offers a free course on how to learn a language.
  • YouTube and podcasts.

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Expose yourself to more difficult content

When you hit your goals and grow your knowledge of the language, it's time to find content that will help you improve.

  • Consistently expose yourself to language that's just above your current level so your brain can fill in the gaps and raise your language level.
  • Make the most of foreign-language TV shows and movies. Reality shows are easier to grasp and has some cultural benefits.

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Motivation is crucial when learning a new language

Intermediate learners often reach a plateau when the gains become more marginal, less immediately rewarding and harder to see.

Targeted and achievable goals will help with focus and motivation. If you are unsure what to do next, hop on a Zoom call with a teacher and ask them to assess your performance to point out what you need to work on next.

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Find ways to embed the language into your life

  • Talk to yourself in the new language. Talk yourself through whatever you're doing.
  • Keep a diary or notebook in your new language of events of the day.
  • You can also record videos of yourself speaking the target language.

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