In this post, I’m going to share with you some of the important things and tips that helped me while learning foreign languages.
I have quite a bit of experience and wanted to share it with those who might need it.
Side note: I’m going to refer to my examples of studying. My foreign languages are English and French (my first lang is Ukrainian). Last summer, in 2019, I started learning English as much as possible. I had a base already that I learned in school. But my goal was to be as fluent as possible. And I just did it, I’m on a C1 level now hehe. And with French, I started this summer 2020, so it will help me to give you some beginner tips:)
So, let’s move on to the post!!:D
– know your why & make sure your excitement and motivation are long-lasting
Why do you want to speak this language? What is your purpose? What opportunities knowing it will bring you?
Answer these questions and have a specific why – why do I need to learn it?
When I started learning English harder, I knew exactly why I have to study as much as I can, even when I didn’t want to.
I wanted to be free in this world. It seems like almost every third person on this planet knows English. And there are so many opportunities and doors opening for those who speak it.
I also had passion to write this blog and share my knowledge with people all around the globe.
This “why” kept me going and I spent the whole summer 2019 learning and practicing.
And I don’t wanna flex or anything heheh but I went from A2(B1) level to C1 in 3 months! In my opinion, this is huge.
Knowing your “why” will keep your passion and motivation long-lasting. It will make you study even if you don’t have inspiration; will help you be as disciplined as possible.
So, before learning anything, write down 3-5 big reasons why you want to study that language and why you need to keep going.
– search for advice and more info on your desired language
Before getting into full motion of learning, you should get as much information about the language as possible, especially if it’s absolutely new to you.
What information to get:
- where the language is spoken (its countries, regions)
- how many people speak it (approximately; it should help you to know how frequently you can meet someone speaking this language)
- a little bit of history (how it was created, from what languages it takes roots from, the history of its native speakers)
- how many accents there are
- different statistics
Also, you should prepare all of the resources needed. Like:
- YouTube channels
- social media influencers (the best way to see and hear how the language is spoken in daily life and overall)
- good translators
- dictionaries (I prefer online)
When I started learning French this summer, I made such a list.
I pointed down what resources I need to get to finally start studying. I did it in a form of a table:
– latest grammar books
to study from
|Vocabulary + Reading |
– books with all the needed vocabulary
– websites with the beginner level texts
|Listening & Writing|
– YouTube channels
and social media influencers
– easy writing prompts
to start writing simple texts and sentences
– choose an accent and start practicing it
Make sure you have all the things and resources ready with you:)
– learn alphabet, numbers, basic greeting words
This should be your next step when you get familiar with the language already.
In my case with English, I already knew a lot so I skipped this step.
But with French, even though it is my 5th attempt to learn it lol, I needed to learn all the basics again.
My tip is to dedicate a whole page in the journal, where you study your language, to the basic greetings, alphabet, numbers, and other beginner words.
It should be the first foundation and step on your journey:D
– learn 200-600 most common words + verbs
Next, when you’re done with beginner words, focus on the most common words and verbs that native speakers use in their daily life.
Focus only on that. Nor grammar, reading, writing should be a priority for you at that moment. You’ll study it later, but now vocabulary.
It is very helpful because you’re laying the next foundation that will guide you.
What you should do is to find on the Internet 600 most common words of that language and study them.
It might not be the most fun process but really worth it.
Don’t only write those words in a dictionary, but actually memorize them.
Flashcards helped me a lot with it.
Just take a piece of small paper and one side write the word and on the other its definition. And practice/ revise them every day until you’re sure you know them.
These 600 frequently used words is a wonderful base for you. Because when you will be starting grammar, listening, reading you will 100% meet any of these words/phrases, ’cause well, they’re common.
– get the latest grammar books
I got this tip when I was learning English.
Make sure you’re studying from grammar books that are new! The range of the date of its publication shouldn’t be more than 5 years ago.
It is crucial because the languages don’t sit still, they’re evolving and many new things come into existence.
So you should take this into consideration if you want to speak like a native:)
– listen and learn from native speakers
This is one of the most important tips – learn from those who speak this language CONSTANTLY.
Let me tell you this, teachers that are foreigners to the language are good. Buuut… not that good as the ones who actually speak it in daily life.
Why? Because the pronunciation might not be that close to original, phrases can get mixed with their native language, and overall not the best teaching if you want to speak like a native (at least, this has always been my goal to be absolutely fluent).
That is why you should learn from those people who are frequently exposed to the language you want to study.
In my case with English, I was learning from native speakers and teachers that moved to America and became absolutely fluent.
You can find such people on YouTube or other social media FOR FREE (what I did). Or invest in paid classes with the native.
If you are not able to learn directly from a native, just make sure you’re exposed to the language in many ways. Like that:
- follow people on social media that are native in that language
- watch movies, videos
- read books, blogs
- listen to podcasts
This was very important to me as a language learner because I wanted to be as closest as possible to the people who speak it.
So learn from those who perfectly know the language.
– choose an accent and practice it
This is a tip for those who are already a bit of advanced in the language. But you can start it from the right beginning of learning.
Choose a specific accent of the language and practice it.
A little side note: you don’t have to speak just like a native or get rid of your accent. It is just a tip for those who want to have a native-like accent. In my English case, I chose American and wanted to get rid of my Slav accent. But if you want to have your unique accent about you, that’s okay:)
Again, exposing yourself to the culture will help you a lot.
What helped me is being in an American social media world, where I started following celebrities, influencers, other English-speaking accounts; watched tons of videos with an American accent, and tried to repeat the pronunciation.
I can’t say that I speak perfectly now in an American way, absolutely no. But I learned A LOT and can surely say that I’d survive and even thrive in the States hahah.
So, choose an accent, expose yourself to its culture, and practice, practice, practice!
– have a plan and follow a routine
Let me tell you a secret – you won’t get anywhere without a proper studying routine.
It’s not really a secret, I know. But it’s extremely important.
Make sure you have a proper plan of action.
When I was hardcore learning English, I had a strict routine.
In hindsight, I was kinda harsh on myself, but not too much that is like a burn-out.
What I did exactly:
- wrote the goals I want to achieve
- a list of habits and things to do to accomplish them
- made a routine out of these habits
- planned each week in detail what I needed to learn and do
- planned each day in detail
- time-blocked my studies
- didn’t take “I don’t want to” as an answer and just did it
Success rarely happens overnight. And usually what you see as great luck or talent is, in reality, an extremely hard work and tears that come with it (lmao, I had so many meltdowns).
So make sure you have a routine and follow it. The results of it will be amazing!
I was so passionate to write this post hahah. Please comment down below or let me know if you want more tips on languages, ’cause I have sooooo many lmao.
Hope you have a wonderful learning time!
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