How To Learn A New Language From Home.
We asked our Project Coordinator, Kayleigh Jeannette, to share her top tips on how to successfully learn and practice a new language from home. Kayleigh has a MA in Applied Linguistics and is TEFL certified. She has taught and led language immersion programs, discussion sections in introductory Linguistics, English language courses, and specialized English pronunciation courses. Kayleigh has been formally studying and working in Linguistics and language instruction for 10 years.
Practices and Tips for Language Self-Study: 1. Practice/study every single day, even if it’s just for a little while.
2. Make a date for your studies. Try to study at the same time every day so it becomes more of a habit and less of a chore. 3. Try doing your regular routines and habits in your new language. Narrate what you’re doing as best you can in the language. This will help you start thinking about the language as part of your regular day, and it will help point out common and useful words that you don’t know yet. 4. Keep a list of words/phrases that you want to know but haven’t learned yet. 5. Consume content in the language! Watch movies, listen to podcasts, read anything and everything. This helps no matter what stage of learning you are at! In the very beginning, it will help your ears get used to distinguishing the sounds, later on, this will help you notice the patterns and usages that native speakers have so that you can sound more natural. 6. Find authentic materials that match your current level. This will likely mean things intended for children and young adult speakers of the language. When you’re just starting out, read nursery rhymes and children’s books. Move up to fairytales and young adult fiction, etc. Comic books and graphic novels can be great for this! The images help your comprehension and you can probably find interesting content written in relatively simple language. 7. If you are at a level where you can comprehend a decent amount of the speech, maybe more than 50%, turn off those subtitles! You’ll lose some information that you were getting from reading your first language, but you’ll start to build that comprehension in the target language. 8. Do things you already enjoy in the language! If you don't like reading about biology in your first language, you probably will not enjoy it in your new language. If you love to cook, find cookbooks and recipes in the target language. 9. In the beginning, it’s hard to communicate much and finding someone to have a conversation with (outside of a classroom setting) might be difficult, but the sooner you can start interacting, the better! As soon as you feel comfortable, try looking for online/remote language exchange partners. There are many websites that offer this. Usually, you’ll trade your language for someone else’s. When you find a partner to talk to, maybe you’ll spend half an hour talking in your language, then you’ll spend half an hour talking in their language. Most of the people on these types of platforms are eager to learn. 10. Making mistakes is GOOD! This is a very effective way for your new language brain to identify and incorporate new and accurate information. Just keep talking/reading/writing and let your brain do its job! It is a master pattern-recognizer. 11. Memorizing lists of vocabulary might help your accuracy, which is important, but it will not help your fluency. Try to learn conversations and interactions, and think about what language you need to accomplish certain tasks. For example, how do you order a meal in the new language? What words, phrases, tenses, etc. do you need? This will give your brain more ways to connect to the new language items, instead of free-floating lists. 12. I know it’s hard, but try not to translate. Obviously, at the very beginning this is hard to avoid, but continuing to do so will only slow your progress and potentially make inaccurate connections between your first language and your new one. You want to build a whole new separate brain for your new language!
At the end of the day, take your time, be patient and have fun! Learning new things is always a challenge, but that should inspire you to keep moving forward until you accomplish your goal.
We wish you the best of luck on your new language journey!
-The 7000 Languages Team