How to Learn a Language FAST?
Are you having a hard time learning a new language?
Here are some tips on how to learn a new language ASAP.
1. Set Your Goals
One of the most overlooked steps in learning anything is goal setting. A lot of us went to school to get formal education and are so used to having other people set the goals for us; we just go along for the ride. But learning a new language outside of formal education means that you need to do the goal setting for yourself!
Teachers always set goals for the course based on the duration of the course. They also set periodic targets down to daily targets to help them make sure things are on track. You have to do something similar. Sure, you don’t have to craft a lesson plan and have it approved by the department chair, but you need to create a plan, even if it’s just in your head.
Most importantly, you have to make a SMART plan. This means your plan has to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. Doing this is important because it can spell the difference between you succeeding in learning that language and you failing and giving up. You see, learning a language can be very simple or very challenging; it all depends on how you prepare for it and how you go about it.
Start with setting your expectations. Ask yourself, what do you want to learn? Do you want to learn Mandarin? German? Be specific about it. Is it academic language you want? Business language? Or will you be using it for conversations?
Then ask yourself, how long are you giving yourself to learn that language? Is it a year? 2 years? Determine how you can gauge whether you’ve learned the language in the level you want. Do you aim to be proficient on a professional level or is knowing basics enough for you? How will you determine this? Will you be taking a test? Do you plan to speak to a friend who knows the language? Will you be using the language when you travel?
Also, you want to be realistic when doing this. Note that on average, someone who speaks English takes 480 hours on average to reach basic fluency in Group 1 languages (Spanish, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Swahili, Romanian, Portugese, etc.) while it takes them longest to learn languages such as Mandarin, Korean, Japanese and Arabic (Kaufman 2019). This estimate does not account for other factors that influence language learning like the motivation of the learner, the ability of the learner to pick up on language patterns and the efficacy of the language program.
Based on these statistics, are you giving yourself enough time to learn a language? Is it attainable for you given the amount of time you give yourself? If you are giving yourself half a year to become proficient in a Group 1 language for example, it means that you should devote around 480 hours in those 6 months to studying. If we were to do the math, assuming you study and practice the language every day, and get a day off every week, that gives you 144 days to do 480 hours of work. This means that on average, you should be devoting 3-4 hours learning the language on a daily basis. Do you think you can do that? If you don’t, then you should change your expectations and extend your deadline to maybe 12 months, to cut down your language learning requirement to 1-2 hours daily.
Lastly, set a deadline for yourself. As stressful as the word sounds to most of us, let’s admit it; deadlines help us get work done. We need a certain amount of stress to get things done, and this good stress is necessary to pressure us into achieving things. Don’t worry, if you set your goals following the SMART guidelines I outline above, meeting a deadline shouldn’t be difficult and is simply a means to keep things in perspective. For example, if you just started learning Korean, and you know that you need to devote 1-2 hours of study on a daily basis to make sure you learn it in a year, then it’s more motivating to get to studying daily especially when you don’t feel like it than, say, if you were to tell yourself, I’d study Korean daily and be able to speak the language…. Some day.
Not knowing when you’re gonna finish a task slows down your progress because the lack of urgency promotes complacency. This is why some people never get to their goals and end up letting go of their language learning.
2. Embrace Memorization
Now that we’ve talked about setting goals; one also has to set their mindset early on and know what they’re getting into. Unlike other areas of study, Language involves a lot of memorization. Although there are patterns and concepts as well, what one has to learn is largely based on convention and word choices, all of which one has to remember well.
So, if you hate memorization like I do, one of the first things you need to accept and be ok with before you even start learning another language is you will have to memorize a lot of things.
If you think this is a deal breaker, then you might be already setting yourself up for failure even before you start. As someone who can speak four languages, I assure you, the languages don’t just “come to you,” you have to memorise them, and familiarize yourself with them. It's a conscious effort. Don’t worry, it’s not like one sits down and stares at a dictionary expecting to cram all that information in their heads. That’s why you should set realistic goals and give yourself enough time to remember words, phrases, and grammar rules. Once you’ve accepted this fact, then you can get on to learning.
3. Practice Practice Practice
A lot of people like the idea of what learning a new language would bring them, however, a lot of them are not prepared to do the work necessary to get better at speaking a language. Think of it this way, the first time you learned a language and succeeded, you were a child; and the reason you speak the language so well now isn’t because you learned it as a child and stopped using it, you kept using it everyday until now. That’s how you’re proficient. You’ve been practicing for YEARS!
So, if you want to get good at speaking another language, be prepared to start from square one, and use the language as often as you can. Make sure you utilize every opportunity you have to practice. Read books in the language, watch TV shows in the language, and if you can, talk to people who know the language!
You may be coming up with objections in your head right now, saying things like TV Shows and books are too advanced for you… Well, read and watch the books and shows kids watch to learn the language! Remember, you’re at point zero; you’re like a baby again learning his or her first words. The only difference is you may already be aware of sentence structures and certain conventions that universally govern all languages which might give you some head start.
And if you’re scared of talking to people who know the language, read further on what I have to say about it. After all, if you want to talk like a native, then you should use the language as often as they do! Use the language from the first day you start learning it. Don’t wait for you to become proficient before you use it; that’s not how any of this works!
4. Accept that You'll make mistakes
As I said, language is about practice; and if you follow my advice and start using the language from day one, then you are bound to make mistakes. Making mistakes is part of learning and is something one shouldn’t be shy about. Although there will be people who laugh at you, don’t mind them. You’re stepping out of your comfort zone to learn another language. Just by doing that, you’re already a step ahead of them who could not even recognize the courage in what you’re doing to grow yourself.
Given this, don’t shy away from opportunities to practice a language with people who speak it. Those are the best opportunities to learn! What better way to know how it is used than by getting first hand experience from people who use it daily? If you’re lucky, not only will they correct you, they’ll even teach you and you’ll get to learn things you won’t from a textbook or a class! The best way to learn is always by application and consistent practice.
If you can’t find a person to talk to, or if you’re feeling shy talking to people who speak the language, then a good alternative is to hire a private language tutor. Not only will they be talking to you in the language you’re learning, they’re also equipped with the skills to educate you in the language. Additionally, you’ll be communicating with them under the premise that you’re learning and doing so, you might feel more comfortable making mistakes and asking questions!
These days, hiring a private tutor has never been easier. Online tutoring is becoming more and more popular and learning has never been more convenient. To learn more, you can check out Level Up Tutorial’s language tutoring services.
Lastly, remember that making mistakes is a natural part of learning and is completely fine. What matters is you learn from them!
5. Enjoy the Process
Last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy the process of learning a new language. You see, a lot of people are so focused on becoming good at speaking a language, they forget to enjoy getting there. While there’s nothing wrong with doing that, there are some disadvantages which could lower your chances at succeeding in learning a new language.
First, the process will seem longer and more winding. In most cases, what matters is not the time we take to learn itself but how we perceive the time we spent learning. Have you ever tried learning something you enjoy immensely? Compare that to learning something which the mere mention of already weighs your spirit down. Which one was easier to learn?
Whether something is enjoyable for you or not is subjective. But what I'm trying to emphasize here is how you feel while you learn could easily make or break your success.
Second, not enjoying a task lowers your motivation to continue doing it. Although it’s possible to finish a task one does not enjoy, the chances of one finishing a task one doesn’t enjoy compared to someone finishing a task he or she enjoys is dramatically lower simply because there is no internal reinforcement. After all, wouldn't it be easier to finish something if it didn't feel like work?
Think of all the times you finished a project or a task that is not required of you. Why did you do them?
Personally, I write articles and work out less because I absolutely have to, but more because I enjoy doing them. Sitting down and putting thoughts into words and structuring them into coherent paragraphs bring me joy. Straining my muscles and pushing myself to the my physical limit gives me a sense of accomplishment and control.
How about you? Why do you want to learn a new language? What about this new language would give you joy? Do you like connecting with new people? Do you like learning about other cultures? Or do you get a sense of accomplishment over learning something new?
Now, cling to this, and remember it when you struggle because you will struggle. Remembering your motivations will keep you going and it is these that will help you laugh off mistakes you make.
Remember, you’re gonna be opening yourself up to a whole new range of opportunities by learning a new language. It can advance your career, connect you to new people, and educate you about new cultures. Besides, how often do you learn a new language? You might as well enjoy every minute of it!
Kaufman, Steve. “How Long Should It Take to Learn a Language?” The Linguist, 10
Dec. 2019, blog.thelinguist.com/2019/12/10/how-long-should-it-take-to-learn-
a-language/#:~:text=If we are able to,will take twice as long.
Do you like our content? Comment down below!