Step One: Become the master of your own learning:
Learning is a skill in itself that you can hone by getting to know your natural style of learning. This will help you make real leaps and bounds in your language acquisition at a much faster pace and make the process more fun too! The first step is discovering whether you’re an Activist, Reflector, Theorist or Pragmatist learner using the Honey Mumford learner types questionnaire: http://resources.eln.io/honey-mumford-learner-types-1986-questionnaire-online/
Other learner types include Visual, Auditory, Reading, Kinaesthetic (VARK) so might be worth trying quizzes online for these as well.
These kinds of quizzes only take 5 minutes maximum to complete, but it will be the best 5
minutes you dedicate to your study, as it will save you hours of unproductive learning! After taking them I found out that
I’m an activist learner with an auditory style preference. So now I make sure I use interactive, challenging activities that include lots of socialising, films, YouTube cooking tutorials and music. Over the last year since applying these techniques, my French learning has really taken off and, on a recent trip to France, I could communicate much more fluently with everyone I met and have rediscovered my passion for French.
Take it from me, when you tailor your learning to fit your own personal style, it will make your journey towards fluency much faster and more enjoyable!
Step Two: Master your motivation.
Let’s face it, there’s no ‘quick fix’ when it comes to language learning and, for many of us, learning to speak a language confidently is a process that can take many months and years of practice. I like to think of athletes preparing for the Olympics – you won’t be ready to go for gold overnight! But often that means we lose sight of why we ever started in the first place and can leave us feeling lacklustre and demotivated during the process.
To avoid these learning ruts, it’s essential to get to the bottom of what motivates you about your language learning. You can do this, by asking yourself some probing questions like:
“Why am I learning this language?
“What do I want to use my language skills for? How will this skill impact my life?”
“Have my reasons for learning the language changed or evolved since I started learning?”
Answers to these questions will vary from person to person and at different points in time, but checking your motivation regularly will help keep you enthused and on track. Are you learning to pass an exam? To keep in touch with a friend overseas? To make a good impression on a spouse or partner’s family who speak another language? To move or work overseas? For your work or a hobby you pursue?
There is no such thing as ‘bad motivation’ but, it is generally accepted that having an intrinsic motivation for doing something rather than extrinsic motivation makes it easier to stay focused and enthused. See the Very Well website for more on motivation.
Step 3: Mastering goal setting for success.
Having an aim or destination helps make any learning journey smoother, otherwise how will you know when you’ve achieved what you set out to achieve? Regularly asking yourself the following questions along the journey will really help:
“What does success look like for me in my language learning?”
“How will I know when I’ve achieved what I set out to in the language I’m learning?”
Success for you might be ordering a meal on holiday or asking for directions confidently in the language (then understanding the responses..!). As you achieve these goals, you might progress onto writing a letter or email to a friend, reading a book or delivering a presentation in the target language. Whatever success looks like for you, it will take a series of small steps rather than one giant leap to get there, so setting yourself SMART goals will help keep you focused and help you recognise when you’ve achieved it, will in turn keep you more motivated! SMART goals must be:
So, depending on your starting point, if your ambition is to learn a new language fluently or write a 2,000 word essay in the language within 1 month this might not be achievable or realistic. Equally ‘being fluent’ is difficult to measure (more on fluency another time!), so perhaps try thinking more about what it is you want to do with the language, then working towards achieving that specific task as a stepping stone towards fluency. Good luck!
For more on SMART goals see Mind Tools: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm
Thanks for reading – hope you found this useful and it makes your language learning more tailor made and fun! Let us know how you get on mastering the language(s) you’re learning on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter