6 Ways to Use the 80/20 Rule with Language Learning

The 80/20 rule also known as the Pareto Principle states that 80% of your results are produced by only 20% of your efforts.

This means that if 80% of your efforts will not have a big effect on improving your language level then it is clear that you need to identify the 20% that will have the biggest impact on your progress.

Only a small fraction of your efforts will bring in the greatest results.

This is a really important concept because if you apply this rule, it will make you a much more efficient language learner and will help you to make the most progress with the minimum amount of time and effort.

In this blog post we will look at ways to make sure you are concentrating your efforts on the 20% that will have the biggest effect on your language learning.

1. Learn the 200 most used words in the language.

Every language has its most used words in everyday conversation. You would do well to start by concentrating on learning these key words.

2. Identify your goals

What is your reason for learning? It may seem obvious, but if you aren’t going to need to know it, don’t waste precious study time learning it. For example, if you are just learning some key Spanish phrases to get by on a long weekend in Madrid then you would focus your learning on vocabulary for foods and drinks, asking questions and getting around they city. You would not need to go into the grammar rules in much detail.

So every time you come across a new word whilst studying, ask yourself, “Am I really going to need to know this word?”

3. Balance your learning

Make sure you spend an equal amount of time working on improving your speaking, listening, reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary learning. Be careful not to neglect one area of learning as this is not best use of your time. Try not to spend most of your time on reading and writing because you find this easier than listening to audio.

4. Concentrate on difficult areas

If there is a particular part of grammar that you find tricky and you think you will never ‘get it’ don’t ignore it, make a point of working on this to learn it. Mastering difficult parts of the language is a great use of study time.

5. Learn from other language learners

Follow advice from other language learners and polyglots who give lots of tips and advice of the best ways to learn languages and how to avoid common pitfalls that language learners often fall into. They have been in exactly the same situation as you are when you start learning another language. They have learnt from their mistakes and know the short cuts to language learning success. You would do well to read blog pages such as:

Fluent in 3 months
Transparent Language
Lindsay Does Languages
Olly Richards

6. Start Speaking NOW!

You are ready to speak in the language nearly straight away. Don’t wait until you know thousands of words. You don’t need to know every language in the dictionary to be fluent and start communicating with natives in everyday situations. Just by knowing a few key words and phrases you can start talking to locals. This beginning stage will help you become more confident straightaway and when you talk to natives they are keen to help you further – accelerating your learning and probably much faster than with books and CDs.

So you can easily see that the 80/20 rule is really important when it comes to learning languages. If you organise your learning in the right way you can easily become fluent in record time!

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