Let’s take a look at 6 useful habits of successful language learners. Why do some people need only a few months to start speaking a foreign language, while others learn the language for years and see no significant progress? What habits will help you learn a foreign language even if you are in self-isolation?
Habit 1: Speak the language you are learning every day
The most common mistake is watching soap operas, listening to podcasts or radio, reading books, storming through a grammar book, and not practicing speaking. If all you do is listen all the time, you won’t be able to speak. If you only mentally toss a tennis ball, can you work out a serve like Serena Williams? I don’t think so.
In learning a language, just like in sports, regularity is important. Get into the habit of speaking the language you study every day. At least five minutes every night. You can set yourself a task in a calendar and control the time with a timer. If you are taking language courses and doing your homework, start with the speaking part.
What to talk about? Tell yourself or your family how your day was or what you plan to do tomorrow, describe the object you see in front of you (what it is, why, when you bought it, how you use it), retell the news or a post on Instagram, the story of a YouTube video you recently watched.
Habit 2: Read aloud
New words, texts, exercise assignments, foreign-language posts on social networks, labels of cosmetic products – everything that is written in the foreign language you are studying, read aloud. Why? To have a beautiful accent. Yes, that’s how you practice pronunciation.
What reading aloud will do:
- you will know how a word is read (sometimes you have to check with a dictionary);
- you will practice the pronunciation of commonly used word combinations;
- you will recognize the speech of native speakers more easily (because you know how to pronounce words correctly).
Habit 3: Procrastinate on a foreign language
Love scrolling through your Instagram feed, watching YouTube channels or TV shows? Do it in the language you’re learning. It won’t be easy at first. But in time, it will become a habit, just like exercising in the morning or jogging several times a week. You will no longer waste time, now your procrastination is also learning a foreign language. Your vocabulary will be enriched with lively conversational phrases and the foreign language will become a part of your life rather than a tedious school subject.
But it’s important to build the habit into your life gradually. Start with one thing at a time. For example, subscribe to foreign bloggers’ Instagram accounts and stop at their posts while flipping through the feed. Or start watching YouTube on a topic of interest to you in a foreign language, watch movie trailers, etc.
Habit 4: Record your speech on a recorder
This is one of the most useful habits for learning a foreign language. But many people think: “what can be worse than listening to your own voice in a recording?”. But by regularly recording yourself on a recorder, you will learn to hear your mistakes. There are mistakes that even students with a high level of language make, sometimes it’s incorrectly learned at the beginning of training words or turns.
You will also save time and money. Most students speak a foreign language only in class. They read the text, retell it, then a teacher reads out the mistakes, a student corrects them – that’s all. Instead of that you can do this:
- write a speech on a tape recorder;
- listen to the recording;
- note the mistakes;
- correct them.
Record yourself on the recorder again, listen to it. There will probably be fewer mistakes. Find synonyms, vivid conversational phrases, record the speech again. At the lesson, present to the teacher a well-prepared answer and ask what to improve.
By the way, you can get used to the sound of your voice in the recording very quickly, after a couple of days of practice you will not pay attention to the strangeness of the recording.
Habit 5: Don’t translate in your mind
The habit described below is more of an intermediate level or higher, and does not work with beginners.
Formulating a phrase first in your native language and then in the target language takes twice as much time as when you immediately think up what you want to say in the foreign language. Languages are not identical, they have different sentence structures, different nuances in the meaning of words, and some concepts of one language may simply not exist in another.
Try to find out the meaning of unfamiliar words from the context. If you can’t, look in a dictionary or find a picture of the word in a search engine. Refusing to translate also applies to all new vocabulary that you write down in a notebook or add to flashcards. Write word definitions or synonyms. This way you’ll expand your vocabulary and know what to replace the word with when you’re writing an essay or talking to friends from another country.
Habit 6: Learn new words everyday
Learning a language is closely related to learning new words. Do not neglect it, because it is the large vocabulary that can show a high level of language. Accordingly, we suggest you get into the following habit:
- add all unfamiliar words that students encounter to their own vocabulary (get one if you don’t already have one).
- learn new words every day. We suggest learning 5 words a day, so as not to overload your brain.
But how do you learn these words effectively? Use the Langavia Personal Dictionary. Langavia offers you a user-friendly personal dictionary that will cover all your word-learning needs. Using this service, you will not cram. Playful activities will help you memorize new words and all you have to do – practicing for 15-30 minutes a day.
It takes effort to get to the next level in language learning. Take small steps, but practice regularly and form good habits. Surround yourself with a language environment, build the foreign language you are learning into your everyday life, and your progress will be inevitable.
- Listening. The first step in learning a new language is to hear it spoken aloud.
- Speaking. At some point, students must learn to repeat what they hear.
- Reading. It is crucial to develop this skill in the target language.
- Writing. Being able to express oneself in writing is essential for a complete learning experience.