I am so happy today to turn the blog over to Nick C. from Liverpool University online, who is offering us some great tips on how to keep that New Year’s resolution to learn a new language in 2014. Enjoy! And if you have any to add, please do so in the comments!
Learning a new language is one of the best ways to improve your career prospects. With a new language under your belt, you can work in completely different areas with completely different people. Sure, it’s difficult, but with these ten tips you’re sure to complete your New Year’s Resolution.
1. Set Short Term Goals
If you try to learn the entire language at one time, it’s overwhelming. Different pronunciations, different words, and sometimes different alphabets all add to the challenge. To avoid being overwhelmed, you should set up a series of short term goals. For example, by the end of each week your goal will be to know how to use five new words in a sentence.
2. Don’t Speak English
The quickest way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in it at all times. This means when you’re at home you should try to avoid speaking English. Focus on using your new language, even when you’re just cleaning up by yourself.
3. Be Accountable
Most New Year’s resolutions fail because people don’t hold themselves accountable. They procrastinate and tell themselves that they’ll start working on their resolution tomorrow, and soon enough, an entire year has gone by. Tell your friends or use a notebook to help hold yourself accountable.
4. Get an Online Degree
If you have a strict schedule, an online degree might be the best way for you to learn a new language. Online programs are both structured and flexible, allowing you to stay on track and work at your own place.
5. Travel to a Foreign Country
Nothing forces you to use your new language more than being in a position where you can’t fall back on English. When you travel to a foreign country, everything you see will be in a different language. If you have the resources, plan to spend at least a week in a foreign country at some point during the year.
It’s not enough to read the words on paper, you need to practice saying them out loud and listening to them. Find someone you can talk to in your language of choice, and get together at least once a week to talk.
7. Use a Pocket Dictionary
When you come across a word you don’t know, pull out your pocket dictionary. If you do this every time you stumble, you’ll slowly build your vocabulary. If you don’t want to carry a dictionary around, you can find a language app for your smart phone.
8. Listen to Foreign Music
Listening to foreign music helps you get a feel for the rhythm of a language, as well as some of the pronunciations. As your vocabulary improves, you’ll have an easier time translating the lyrics into English.
9. Focus on Common Words
Every language has several common words that are used repeatedly. Make a list of those common words and learn how to use them properly. This gives you a base on which to build your knowledge.
10. Reward Yourself
Reward yourself each time you complete one of your short term goals. Positive reinforcement will ensure you stick with your resolution, even when it’s hard to do.