We have previously covered common language learning mistakes and what you can do to avoid them. It might be a great idea to go through that post before getting to this one to make sure you’re not tumbling down the wrong path with your effort so far. Once you’ve done that and hopefully set yourself on the right road, we can focus more deeply on how to best achieve success in language learning.
First Step – Coming up with the Definition
Success in language learning is a difficult topic to cover since it really depends on the person doing the learning and their definition of success. But this is more-or-less also the point – it’s hard to achieve any level of “success” if you don’t have a clear picture of what you mean by it. Whether you plan to enjoy literature in your target language, want to understand a great TV series, or wish to freely converse with natives – the approach you should take to achieve success is different based on your goals.
The importance of setting the right goals is something we talked about under tackling mistakes as well. But here it becomes even more important. Your ability to set clear and realistic goals can have a strong impact on your morale and willingness to continue with practicing your target language. For more advice on setting SMART language goals, read this post.
Second Step – Finding the Right Motivation
It is not without reason that “learn a new language” features on many of the Most Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions lists. This is because trying to force yourself to learn anything because of abstract reasons doesn’t usually end well. The people who do succeed, manage to turn this vague notion of studying into something a lot more concrete and urgent.
Of course, there are a lot of much better reasons to learning languages than a promise uttered in the early morning haze after a New Year’s party. And this is the key – finding the right motivation to learning a language has been proven time and time again to be a key factor that leads to success. So, in order to increase your chances of successfully learning a second language, you need to understand your own motivation and keep reminding yourself of it throughout the process of learning.
Third Step – Making the Time
Although sorting out your motivation and setting clear, measurable goals can really help you with making time for practicing your target language, everyday life can still start getting in the way. The dishes need doing, rubbish is overflowing the bin and, after a long day of work, there’s really no energy left for going through the grammar. This is an all too common problem for learners.
Luckily, there are several ways of fixing this. Firstly, you can try to start sneaking in learning to your daily schedule – listen to podcasts, or read a book in your target language before bed. Start doing your favourite hobbies in your target language. Make learning a pleasurable process (another aspect we covered in the common mistakes post).
Or, schedule lessons with a teacher. This makes trying to carve out time a lot easier since you have a clearly structured time when you need to focus on your language goals. When lessons become a part of your schedule, all the other stuff that tends to take precedence starts to fall away. And, since you’re paying for the lessons, not putting in the effort starts to seem like more of a waste.
Find Your Way
While scientists put successful language learning down to genes and brain structure, and the famous polyglot Benny from Fluent in 3 Months to passion, we believe there’s hope for everyone. Benny’s very intense approach can be really very beneficial but nobody should feel bad if they don’t find extreme passion to be their driving force. There can be as much enjoyment in the process of learning itself. And, if you feel like you might not have the makings of the ultimate language learner, then take solace in that there are steps you can take to increase your abilities.
Although you shouldn’t try to reinvent the bicycle when starting on your target language, it’s important to get to know various approaches and choose the one that works for you. Read and contemplate various articles on language learning tips and then feel free to pick and choose the aspects that work for you personally.
For example, feel free to completely ignore everything we’ve written in this post.
Conclusion – Understand Why and How Language Learning is Best for You
Learning anything is a personal process and the right way to go about it starts with making sure you have the right motivation to go forward. Find reasons that resonate with you and formulate them into SMART goals. Once you’ve done that, find time to keep making progress one way or the other and don’t forget to personalise your experience. Nobody but yourself can be certain about what works for you.