Learning a new language is one of the most valuable things you can do for your mind — and for your career. Though the early stages of language learning are the most challenging, they’re also the most important. Understanding the building blocks of a language is a critical first step in any learning process and lays the foundation for future language comprehension and growth. Unfortunately, those early stages are also the time when students are most likely to abandon their goal and give up on learning another language. When everything is so new and foreign, it’s easy to feel discouraged, or worry that you are not “picking it up” quickly enough.
The difference between a successful language learner and one who gives up after the first few lessons often comes down to having realistic expectations. It is important to recognize that language learning is a process that takes time and practice. Think about it this way: everyone who's ever become fluent in a foreign language started from scratch at some point. Why not you?
If you are just starting out on your language learning journey, this checklist will help you stay on track, keep your momentum going, and make progress in your studies. Good luck and enjoy the process!
Your Language Learning Checklist
- Enroll in a language class. Structured classes with a qualified instructor are a critical component of a successful language learning. Though it may seem easier to download an app or buy a book to learn on your own, there’s simply no substitute for mastering the foundations of the language in a classroom setting, and it’s the best way to prepare yourself for continued success. This is especially true if you’ve had no prior exposure to the target language!
- Tip: Ask about employee benefits! Many companies and organizations, particularly those that operate internationally, offer language training as a benefit to associates and their partners or families. Inquire with your human resources or training department to see if this is an accessible benefit. (If your company would like to establish a training program to start providing these valuable benefits, contact us for a quote.)
- Create a schedule. Studies show that setting and sticking to a routine benefits the learning process. Build a schedule for yourself that includes class time, homework or assignment completion, and daily content review, and dedicate time each day to working toward your goal. We recommend studying in small, manageable chunks to avoid burnout. That can mean as little as 10 minutes or as much as one hour per day, depending on your schedule and how you like to study.
- Download an app. There are a ton of great mobile apps designed to help language learners, and they’re worth exploring. The ideal way to make use of an app is to use it in between class sessions to maintain your progress and consistently expand your vocabulary through the app's activities and games. You can even ask your language instructor for advice in matching content sections within your app to your class syllabus so you can target your app use as you move through your course!
- Increase your exposure to the language. In order to increase the speed at which you pick up the language you’re studying, find ways to incorporate the language into your life. Some fun ways to do this are to change your Facebook or phone settings to the target language, listen to audiobooks or podcasts by native speakers, or watch movies in the language (with or without English subtitles!). Even passive listening while you multitask helps your brain to process the sounds of the new language.
- Find a speaking partner. This could be someone from your class, or a friend, coworker, or acquaintance who speaks the language. Speaking can be the most nerve-wracking part of language learning for some students, so getting over any trepidation about speaking practice early on will be a big help.
- Pick out a dictionary that works for you. Whether it’s a physical book or an online version, having a dictionary that you can easily navigate and that you find to be a helpful resource for your learning style will be essential as you are exposed to new words and phrases throughout your studies.
- Remember why you started to learn another language. If you find yourself stressed, busy, or struggling with course material, it’s easy to get discouraged. Find ways to frequently remind yourself of how exciting your language learning journey is and what motivated you to learn the particular language you’re studying. Pin up some pictures of a country you’d like to travel to where the language is spoken near your study space, write down your goals for working abroad, or share something fun you’ve learned with a friend or relative. Stay positive about your language learning progress — you’re making a commitment to challenge yourself and expand your horizons, and that’s certainly something to be proud of!
To inquire about learning a new language with CORE, contact us today.