by Rachel Jackson
Learning a new language is an ambitious undertaking. Whether you’re learning this language to become a better traveler, to move abroad, to increase your career opportunities, or as a pure effort of self development, you have a long road ahead of you. While the work is hard, there are a few things you can do to help you maximize your efforts.
We all have those “when I get to it” items on our list. Learning a foreign language is a lot more involved than buying new seat covers for your car. Even if you only have an hour free one day of the week to do it, write it into your schedule in ink. It’s not something you should be able to erase or change – you need to make that firm commitment.
Set up a station that will allow you to do what you need to do. Pick a comfortable chair you can easily sit in for an hour or so. Make sure there is no clutter or outside noise that might interfere with your ability to focus. Keep some healthy snacks at your desk if you find that you have a tendency to munch while you learn. Try to create an environment where you won’t need to get up once you’ve settled in to learn.
You might think that you’re retaining the information to the best of your ability, but are you self-checking enough to make that assessment? Make sure you’re quizzing yourself periodically. If you aren’t holding on to the language you’ve spent so much time attempting to learn, you may be using the wrong self-teaching methods.
Think about the blogs you read every day. They’re probably all in your native language. What about reading blogs in the language you’re trying to learn? Even if you don’t understand them immediately, you’ll start to pick up subtleties in the way the language comes together. You can manually look up or translate words that trip you up.
Learning a language isn’t something you can effectively do with split attention. It’s not like listening to the news while you’re driving to work. You need to be able to fully devote yourself to your pursuits if you want to make the most of your learning experience. Never try to juggle – carry one task at a time.
You’re definitely not going to become fluent in a second language over the matter of a few months. You might not even gain that fluency over the course of a year. If you’re pushing yourself too hard, you’re not giving yourself enough time to digest and apply the things you’ve learned. Taking it slowly can be more productive than rushing to the finish line. Your ability to apply the material is more important than the sheer fact that you’ve been exposed to it.
If you’re stressed out or mentally preoccupied, you won’t be able to fully immerse yourself in what you’re doing. Calm down and clear your head before you sit down to learn a language. Some people like to meditate at their desks for a few moments before they start working on something important. Whatever you do to unwind, do it before you put yourself into learning mode.
A new language is a lot more complicated to learn than a specific skill. Don’t let yourself feel discouraged if you find yourself struggling with it from time to time. Sticking to your efforts and recognizing your problem areas can help you overcome the tough parts. Keep doing what you’re doing, and you’ll see yourself pulling it off.
Rachel is a Senior Content Manager at Bizset.com - an online resource of relevant business information. She is a mother of 2 beautiful boys, and loves to hike, and write about travelling, education and business.
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