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Mastering a New Language: Tips and Tricks

Whether you’re learning a language as part of your school’s curriculum, or you’re committed to gain a new appreciation towards a different culture – this post is for you! Learning a new language can be daunting, especially if you do not know where to start or how to approach it. This post will outline some things you can do to embark on this journey of learning a new language. 

Know your motivation

First step: ask yourself what you want to get out of this language learning journey. Perhaps you want to be able to order yourself a drink at a local café on your next trip abroad? Or you want to have a conversation with a native to learn more about your heritage? If you struggle, visualising your goals and ambitions will undoubtedly remind you why you embarked upon this journey. As Simon Sinek always says, “start with why”:  

Immerse yourself in the target language as much as you can

There are several things you can do to immerse yourself in the new language. This will be contingent upon your goals and ambitions, but the following list should be of use to you regardless:

  • If you are a beginner, find a “most common words/verbs/nouns” list. Or you could even label everything you own around your room/house with post-it notes with the pronunciation of the item written on the sticky note
  • Consolidate your knowledge by practising your newly-learned words on Quizlet, an online flashcard tool 
  • Watch movies, series and YouTube videos in the target language with the subtitles on
  • Change the language on your phone via settings – you’d be surprised to see how much you learn
  • Listen to songs and podcasts in the target language – the following link may be of help: 
  • Follow any social media accounts in your target language. Some pages will also give you a fantastic insight into the culture of the country. Perhaps you could even tweet in your target language if you’re brave enough?

Do NOT be afraid of making mistakes.

Making mistakes whilst learning a new language is a good thing – if you learn from them. An individual who spots their mistakes means that they are noticing and appreciating aspects of the target language. Overcoming perfectionism when learning a new language is truly liberating, so embrace your mistakes!

Next time when you pronounce a word incorrectly or use the incorrect tense, try to learn from it by listing and repeating the correct answer in whichever medium you deem appropriate. Spaced repetition can be incredibly useful when learning languages, and in fact – very useful for exam revision too. Ali Abdaal outlines evidence-based revision tips in the following video: – do check out the timestamps in the video description if you wish to skip some bits.

When learning a language, practice makes progress. Try to keep your goals realistic and be consistent with your learning.. Good luck!

Written by Sinem Ishlek
Sinem is an undergraduate reading Development Studies at SOAS, University of London and enjoys socialising and exploring different cultures through cooking. She mainly writes about personal development and student life, aiming to guide motivated young women.

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