5 tips for learning a new language

Natalia Wilkowskaon 5 February 2021
Greetings in various languages

If you’re looking for pointers on how to learn a language, look no further than this comprehensive guide.

Learning a new language is one of the most useful skills you can develop. It’s a long process that requires commitment, but it opens up so many opportunities. As an international student living in the UK and studying Mandarin, I wanted to share some of my top tips for learning a new language:

Try different learning methods

Learning a new language requires constant work and, unfortunately, there’s no quick-fix solution. However, there are loads of different ways you can learn. Nowadays, there are so many online courses and apps out there to help you learn virtually any language in the world from the comfort of your own home. Many of these, such as Duolingo and OpenLearn, are free, so your scope for learning is limitless.

To further brush up your skills, try watching films and TV shows in the language you want to learn, either dubbed or with subtitles. You can also read books, newspapers, and magazines to familiarise yourself with a new language. Combining all of these methods will have you speaking fluently in no time!

Stay motivated 

Motivation is a key aspect of learning a new language. The more motivated you are, the easier your studies will be. At the beginning of your language adventure, you should ask yourself why you want to study this language. The answer will be what keeps you on track.

In your moments of weakness, your motivation will get you by. Identify what it is that motivates you; maybe you’re fascinated about the culture, or planning to travel or work in a foreign country? 

Set learning goals 

Once you’ve nailed your motivation, consider what you want to achieve. Think about how much progress you’d like to make, and plan your study time accordingly.

A good starting point could be to learn 100 common words. This will give you a good foundation and make the rest of your journey easier. Don’t forget to practise pronunciation and speaking, too.

Most importantly, don’t quit or give up too early. The more you try, the better you’ll get, and your progress will inspire you to learn more.

Practise as often as possible

Learning a new language requires constant work and practise. To maximise your learning, try using the language in daily life. For example, you could find a recipe in your chosen language online, and cook using it (just make sure to get the timings right!).

Practise in your head by trying to think in that language whenever you can. Remember that conversation is key to mastering a language so try and find someone to speak with. If you don’t know anyone who speaks the language, you could always try and find a penpal. As well as helping both of you to improve your language skills, this could also make you a friend for life.

Enjoy yourself

Learning a new language can be a long and arduous task, so remember to make it fun. Combine your studies with things you can enjoy, like subtitled films, and music in other languages. Join foreign language social media groups related to topics you like. Whatever you do, remember to have fun while you do it!

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Natalia Wilkowskaon 5 February 2021