10 Tips for When You Start Learning a New Language
A beginner’s guide to English for Adults!
They say it takes about 2 months to form a new habit. Unsurprisingly, this is a problem that affects just about everyone. Especially those of us who have decided to finally learn that 2nd or 3rd language. Just like remembering to go for a run, drink water, and clear out your inbox – learning a new language is a habit that must be persistently fed. The bad news is those who are new to this will find it much more difficult than someone who has been learning for several months. The good news is many people have been in your shoes. This article will discuss a few of the many ways you can ease those growing pains while getting on track to your new routine of learning – and loving it! Keep reading for tips on learning English for adults with busy lives.
1. Begin with the basics
The alphabet is a great place to start! Even in languages that share similar lettering, it’s important for language learners to understand grammatical and pronunciation differences. For example, the French language uses pronunciation marks called the L’accent aigu (é), L’accent grave (è), Le circonflexe (ê), La cédille (ç), and Le tréma (ï). While the French alphabet is similar to the English alphabet, it is important to learn these small differences so you can perfect your pronunciation later on.
Alongside the alphabet, another important thing to tackle first is phonetics. Practicing the simple basic sounds of another language can benefit the learning process early on more than anything else. It helps the student contextualize and get comfortable with their listening skills. Just like children learn to speak long before they learn how to read, you must learn how to pronounce basic conversation and bring the words to life.
2. Swallow your pride
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was our pronunciation and grammar! When learning something new, you have to be comfortable with making mistakes. Many people who have perfected writing and listening to a new language forget the most important part: speaking it. This is because we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to sound fluent, and are scared of embarrassing ourselves. This is why a lot of experts and language specialists ask you to begin with pronunciation before you even know full sentences. By overcoming the fear and shame that comes with mispronunciation, you will fast-track your learning process.
3. Schedule your new habit
In the very beginning, a learner needs to make a clear and attainable schedule for their learning. Nothing is ever accomplished with a half-hearted effort. When you set your goal, it’s important to carve out an attainable schedule for yourself. One hour a day spent listening to, writing, and studying a different language can be sufficient enough in the beginning. As you improve you will find it easier to substitute the language into your daily tasks, and will naturally spend more time each day with the language.
If you’re having trouble remembering your new habit – pick other habits to reinforce your language learning. Try leaving your book on top of your TV remote, which will act as a simple reminder to not watch TV until you’ve studied. You could also consistently go to your office after dinner for 1 hour, which will give you the proper environment free of distractions to begin more effectively.
4. Pick a study buddy
While it’s completely possible to learn a language by yourself, many people who have successfully learned new skills had a language partner. This could be a friend, family member, a native language speaker from a foreign country, or a professional. When you have someone there to hold you accountable for your learning, you will be less likely to skip days and tasks. Think of it as a running buddy for all aspects of language.
It’s also useful to have another person to practice with. You can write out small quizzes for each other at the end of each month, replicating the classroom environment without the pressure or formality. There are also amazing language tools online like LillyPad which provide effective substitutions for partners. This app allows the reader to simulate the study buddy experience.
5. Combine learning with recreation
Get excited! Experts in the field of foreign language stress how important it is for you to have fun while learning something new. The subject matter you learn from should keep you engaged and on track with your goals. Especially because you’re going to be spending a lot of time learning. Keep yourself entertained by incorporating language learning into tasks that you would normally find relaxing and entertaining.
A simple switch the beginner can make to their daily routine is subtitling their TV time. When you sit down to watch your favourite show, the news, or a movie, add subtitles in the new language. Doing this will help you passively learn common phrases and words. A lot of students swear by this as an effective way to learn pronunciation and vocabulary. This is because subtitles put the new language in a motivating context for the students and provides an active role in their learning process.
6. Positive Self Talk
If you tell yourself that foreign language learning is an impossible task that you’ll never have time for and you’ll never achieve, then you won’t make it past the first week. Remind yourself that you learn something new every day regardless if you’re trying to or not. Human beings are naturally attuned to taking in new information. If you can master that recipe and drive that car, you can learn this just as easily!
It’s also useful to keep positivity afloat with concepts like the Pareto Principle. According to this study, the minority owns the majority. This theory suggests that 20% of the work you put into language learning can yield 80% of the results. Among the thousands of words in each language, only a small amount is used in day-to-day conversation. By setting the attainable goal of learning what’s useful, you can make the learning process much faster. Telling yourself you have 100,000 words to learn will only act as a deterrent. Focus on what you need and your stress surrounding the task will subside.
7. Study the culture
Even if you are an ocean away, studying the culture that you’re learning from is a great way to keep you excited about the learning process. If you aren’t lucky enough to be immersed in the culture already. Studies have shown that dedicating brain time to the culture of a foreign language (ie. foreign movies, art, and culture) can help the learner put the language into perspective. It’s also a wonderful way to combine language learning with other important communication skills such as manners, dress, food, and body language.
8. Study yourself
If you are finding it hard to find a bit of time to simply start – don’t worry, you’re not alone. Studies have shown that most people find it hard to stick to new habits and resolutions. This is because an abstract concept won’t immediately achieve a goal. Setting goals can sometimes mean a whole list of other “to-do’s” simply to get it off the ground. But what if you didn’t need to rearrange your entire day to accommodate your studies?
This can be helped by looking at your surroundings and your daily routines to find an idle gap. If you’re the type of person who rolls out of bed at noon on a Saturday, you don’t necessarily have to change that. Instead of straining yourself to dedicate your mornings to productivity, find an idle hour in your evening where you can substitute learning time. Think of yourself as your own personal language teacher.
However, if you do feel like there is a part of your daily schedule that you want to change, you can. Use new habits like colloquial language learning to structure your time and give it purpose. Make a list of things you would like to accomplish every day, carve out time for them, and enjoy that feeling of pride you have when you check each item off the list.
9. Measure progress along the way
Alongside the to-do list, take a moment at the end of the day to truly appreciate your accomplishments. This doesn’t have to be a full-on diary entry, it can be as simple as a to-do list with the title “have-done”. This method is an excellent way to retain the information learned that day. As you progress in the future you can use these lists as a tool to not only measure your success but reference things you might want to brush up on. Record your attention to grammar, basic sentences, and any broken language skills. Give yourself plenty of reasons to keep coming back to improve.
10. Go Digital!
Now you have set out time in your day, picked a study buddy, and motivated yourself, there is only one thing left to do: get started! Studies have shown that listening and reading to a language can help retention tenfold. There is no better resource than the internet for reading and listening to a new language. It can sometimes be hard to find basic grammar lessons to serve this purpose in real life. That is why online language courses can help break down that barrier to language acquisition. These online resources will give you the bread and butter of language learning.
While it’s important to immerse yourself in a variety of ways, it can sometimes be overwhelming. Instead of scouring the internet for reading material, our app LillyPad can work as your curated library for all exciting material. As previously mentioned, one of the most important things a student learning languages must have is entertainment. Without enjoyable reading material and resources, it can be extremely difficult to stay motivated and on-track. LillyPad allows you to select preferences so we can give your accurate suggestions based on what you have previously read and enjoyed. This way, you can learn a language and stay engaged! You can even upload an eBook file if you want to curate your collection even further.
Learn from History – Follow the Science – Listen to the Experts
What’s the one thing that makes LillyPad so special? Lilly! Lilly is an Artificial Intelligent English tutor, and she has people talking all over the world! Lilly makes improving your English easy. With Lilly you can read in four different ways, and you can read just about anything you love. And learning with Lilly, well that’s what you call liberating!
For learners of all ages striving to improve their English, LillyPad combines the most scientifically studied and recommended path to achieving English fluency and proficiency with today’s most brilliant technologies!
Additionally, the platform incorporates goal setting capabilities, essential tracking & reporting, gamification, anywhere-anytime convenience, and a significant cost savings in comparison to traditional tutoring methodologies.
At LillyPad, everything we do is focused on delivering a personalized journey that is meaningful and life-changing for our members. LillyPad isn’t just the next chapter in English learning…
…it’s a whole new story!
Do you want to improve your English? Visit www.lillypad.ai.
Note: iOS is currently unavailable.
Bethany MacDonald has contributed articles LillyPad.ai since 2020. As their Blog Lead, she specialises in informative pieces on culture, education, and language learning