Updated: Feb 2, 2018
2016 is here... we have a new year ahead to set new goals, to live exciting adventures and to start a better life! As every January, this is a time of improvements... saving money for that car you love, having a healthier life, quit smoking, learning something new.
One of the most popular New Year's Resolution is learning a new language. Sometimes due to a job opportunity, or to travel purposes, to knowing new cultures or to be able to have a conversation with your partner's family.... Whatever the reason, remember there is just a way to achieve it: persistence.
Through the years, we have come across to a few people who start learning a language but after some weeks they lose the motivation as they find it too hard. This is a natural process, especially if you haven't been in a learning environment for many years. But we really think EVERYONE is able to learn new things at any age and that's why we want to encourage those who are thinking about taking the challenge of learning a new language in 2016:
1. Think about all benefits you can get speaking the language you want to learn. You might be considering about learning Spanish because you have a house in Costa del Sol and you want to be able to communicate with locals. This is the perfect starting point. But speaking Spanish apart from getting to know people when you go to Spain, you can solve problems when staying there as getting lost or needing a plumber. Also, you can have a better understanding of the culture and you can make others learn the language as well, for example your grandchildren. Thinking about all good things you can obtain is a good way of motivation.
2. Now you know why you want to learn it, ask yourself about the best way to do it. It is important to be realistic. If you are working Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, it might be hard trying to take lessons at 5.30 as your brain needs to be ready to process lots of information. In this case it might be a good idea to relax after work and maybe before sleeping practice for 30 minutes on your own, with podcasts, books or online resources. Then, at the weekend you can take a session with a native tutor and asking and practicing about the content learned during the week.
3. Use all that you learn from day 1. If for example you are learning French and you do a lesson about food, next day when you are cooking, say the ingredients in French out loud, look at a French recipe on the Internet and try to understand it and tell your family when eating Bon Appetit! If you put what you learn into a context you will find it useful and fun!
4. Don't give up. When we learn something new we can come across with things we don't expect and that make us feel uncomfortable. Everyone has a bad day or a moment during a lesson that thinks: that's too hard for me!. Be patient, you cannot learn the conjugation of an irregular verb as quick as numbers one to ten. Sometimes you will need time to understand certain things, but that's natural and it means you are on the right way!
5. Bear this in mind: learning a language takes time. It is very common to hear this question from students: How long does it take to speak fluently? That's a hard question! Every person is different, the rhythm is different, the understanding is different... We cannot compare a person that takes lessons one hour a week and try to use the language one week during the summer while spending the holiday abroad with another person who takes the same lesson one hour a week but practices at home reading, watching films and going to exchanges with native speakers every week. Obviously the second person is going to learn quicker. Don't think about learning a language like a race... There is not an ending point where you arrive and suddenly you are fluent. Learning a language is a process, during the first month you will be able to ask for a coffee, then you will talk about yourself, after maybe a year you will have a good conversation with a person that doesn't speak your language and then in some more months you will understand the politics section of the Spanish newspaper. This a journey with different stops, don't worry about the end, enjoy from the beginning to make the most of it.
6. Have fun! If you are learning English and thinking just about grammar and practicing boring texts that are not interesting for you, that's not the ideal way. Use the language for things you enjoy: Do you like sports? Buy a sport magazine in that language and try to read it! Do you enjoy video games? Watch YouTube players. Do you prefer music? Listen to Spanish, French or English songs. Are you a good writer? Write short stories with the vocabulary you learn. Have you got children? Practice with them! Teach them the colours or watch a film in the language you are learning together. Having fun is the best way of learning!
We hope you find this useful and we help you a little bit to achieve your goal. If you want to share your experiences or questions with us please do!