Updated: Jun 4
So you’ve taken the first step and decided to learn another language- awesome! You've got the world at your fingertips. But how do we get started on our wonderful journey to cross-cultural communication, career advancement and undeniable cognitive benefits? Here is how to narrow down those first steps to getting started on your own.
1. Choose one language
Languages are beautiful, interesting and fun. Don’t you wish we could learn them all? While it is possible to learn multiple languages (polyglot), in my experience it is best to narrow your learning down to one language at a time, especially when starting out. This will allow you to gain confidence and avoid confusion.
2. Determine your 'why?'
Establish your 'why', or clear purpose for learning this language. Your 'why' is very important and personal. If you do not know why you’re learning, it will be difficult to stay motivated and stick to your goals. Your 'why' also plays a part in how you learn. For example, someone whose goal is to pass a test will require a different study style than someone learning to communicate with a loved one.
(Click here to see how to use your 'why' as motivation.)
3. Set realistic goals
Yes, becoming fluent is generally the goal with language learning. But, this doesn’t happen overnight. In order to really progress with your language skills, it is important to set realistic short term and long term goals to help you stay on track. Keep in mind, everyone’s goals and journeys will be different, depending on their why.
4. Determine your learning style
Once you know why you’re learning, you can begin to narrow down your search for resources that will work for you. Doing this based on your interests can also help to keep you motivated to learn. Take the time to try different things, from videos to flash cards to textbooks. It's during this trial and error that we learn what works best for us, and we can continue searching for tools that meet our individual needs.
5. Do something every day
Even if it’s just five minutes, exposing yourself to the language and culture you’re studying is a step in the right direction. When you don’t have the time to commit to watch an entire movie or complete an entire lesson in your workbook, something as small as watching a YouTube video in your target language can help keep you motivated to learn and expose you to new vocabulary.
Once we've taken the initial step to start learning a language, it's important to be patient with and kind to ourselves as we navigate our learning. But, if you embark on this journey with a clear purpose and willingness to navigate through different resources, techniques and challenges, you will establish an enjoyable, enriching new hobby and skillset.
PS- Want to advance your German? Book a free consult for German language coaching & lessons with me today!
About the Author
Noelle is an experienced German teacher and coach. After having lived and worked in Germany in 2014, she returned to the US and earned a Second Bachelor of Arts degree in German, from an AATG German Center of Excellence. Currently, she is pursuing her Master of Arts in Translation and Interpretation Studies and learning Spanish, French and Russian in her free time. When she is not teaching or traveling, you can find her exploring Texas or spending time with her partner and their two cats.