Perhaps you have decided to start learning a foreign language for your next holiday, for work, to improve your CV or simply to do something different and challenging. When first starting out learning a language it is difficult knowing where to start. You are bombarded with so much advice online about the best ways to learn a language and there are so many different resources and apps to choose from, it is hard to know where to start and understandably people feel completely overwhelmed and may even be put off from starting.
In today’s blog post we will give you 5 tips to help you get started learning a language and to stop you feeling overwhelmed.
First of all you need to think about when you will be able to study and for how long. Which time of day you can study will depend on your working hours, your family commitments and other things that you do. For some people studying first thing in the mornings suits them best. Other people find that they only have time to focus on language study in the evenings. Ideally you need to spend between 15 minutes and one hour each day studying. A little study regularly works best for learning a language. Some days you may only have a spare 15 minutes so this is good for reviewing new vocabulary, using an app or reading an article online. Other times you may have a couple of hours to spare so then you would focus on more intensive study such as using a grammar textbook and doing the self-study exercises.
The best way to learn a language is to use a combination of resources that will help you to improve all of the core skills; speaking, listening, reading and writing.
To improve listening: listen to podcasts, music, watch TV shows and films with Spanish subtitles.
To improve speaking: listen to audio, pause it and then repeat what you have just heard. If you can follow the transcript of a podcast this is much easier. Try to find a language exchange partner or a native speaker that you can talk to regularly.
To improve writing: keep a diary in Spanish, write a story in Spanish, write to Spanish friends, colleagues, relatives, write a review of a book or film you have read.
Remember, you do not need to work on all 4 skills in every study session. Vary it throughout the week.
Start with the basics and gradually build up the difficulty level. Work on one thing at a time. This will avoid you feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. You may start with things like the alphabet and learning the pronunciation and key sounds in the language. Then you would move on to the basic greetings and lower numbers. When it comes to grammar you would start with nouns and definite articles (learning the words for “the”, “a”, “an” “some”), the present tense, before moving on to past and future tenses.
Make sure you are using the language that you have learnt in your study sessions. Once you have learnt the vocabulary for a certain topic, arrange with your language exchange partner to talk about this to practice and reinforce what you have learnt. They can check that you are pronouncing the words correctly, using them in the right way and even give you more tips and useful words and phrases.
If you have learnt the words for foods, fruits and vegetables, try writing your shopping list in the target language.
One of the best ways to ensure that you don’t become overwhelmed when learning a language is to learn with someone or have someone to direct your learning. A tutor can help you follow a logical study plan and keep you on the right path. They can monitor your progress and give you further help in the areas you struggle with.
Not only this, they can help you stay motivated and interested in the language which will help you stick at it for longer and make learning much more enjoyable.
If you are interested in taking lessons with a tutor please get in touch with us today to find out the various options we offer.