19 Oct 5 most important habits of successful language learners
Posted at 09:07h in English
- Error management – welcome mistakes. Many of us were taught to fear mistakes. You make a mistake at school and you get punished – oh no! It’s another F. You use the ‘wrong’ grammar and someone laughs. You take a bit longer to express yourself and the conversation doesn’t flow – you might get bored looks from people which is also never a pleasant experience. Learning a language is just like any other skill you acquire. You need to put in the time and effort to use the language. That in turn means that you will be making mistakes. And that’s OKAY. Making mistakes means that you’re trying. It means that you see what works well and what still needs to be worked on. Making mistakes means finding out what that particular language is all about.
- Immersion – BE the language. Often we like to imagine ourselves speaking fluently in a language, reading, writing, and – most of all – thinking the same way we do in our native language. What mostly happens is that we start translating our thoughts into the language we want to learn. What we should be doing is trying to think in the language we want to learn. The more time you spend surrounding yourself with the language and the culture you want to learn about the more the sounds will become second nature to you.
- Acquisition – think like a child. At school we learn to think about language in terms of ‘this means that’ – we translate. When we learn our first language as toddlers, there is, of course, no language that our parents could translate to so that we understand. We simply learn through repeated exposure and association. In other words, hearing a word once is usually not enough to make us remember forever. We need to hear it over and over again until it really sinks in and we don’t need to put conscious effort into understanding. Now because there are so many different stimuli that we’re exposed to from when we’re born, repetition is not enough. Context matters, too! We rely on showing what we mean. Our parents point to an apple and say ‘apple’. We then repeat the word and receive a warm smile from our family and perhaps even a little laugh when we mispronounce it 😉
- Motivation – stay interested. Never in history have we had such a large variety of things to do. And with all these opportunities we often get bored by one thing and just start another project because it’s more fun (at least it is in the beginning until it’s replaced by the next fun thing;) Suffice to say, staying motivated isn’t easy! That’s why we suggest incorporating your interests into your language learning. If you are interested in sports, watch your favorite sports with English commentary. If you like cooking, look for recipes in English. Whatever it is you love doing, do it in the language(s) you want to learn. The best way to stay motivated is to enjoy yourself:)
- Continuity – learn EVERY DAY. Even if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands because you have a job,a busy social life, you work out, and perhaps you’re even taking care of a sick baby bird, you need to find a 15-minute window for your daily practice. For some that means getting up 15 minutes earlier while others might prefer to learn in the comfort of their warm bed right before going to sleep. Learn on your commute to work while listening to your favorite podcast in your car or learn by reading your favorite content in the subway. Whenever you think about scrolling mindlessly through your Facebook feed looking at all the cool things your friends do (or pretend to do;) ACTUALLY DO something yourself. Invest the time you have in learning something worthwhile 🙂
Stay motivated – anyone can learn English!