Did you study a foreign language in school? Spanish, French, Italian? Did you enjoy yourself? Or was it an experience that you’d rather forget?
You have to answer these last two questions honestly because they reveal a lot about how you will do the second time around.
There are many people who can’t learn a foreign language in a classroom. I was one of them. I studied French in high school, dropped it in college and then decided to study Spanish once I graduated. No formal teaching, no homework assignments, no calls home for bad grades.
Now I’m a Spanish teacher, married to a Spaniard and Language of desire raising our children bilingually. And it all happened outside the class.
If you’re one of these people and have no desire to return to the classroom, then you have to make the most of your studies on your own.
It’s not easy at first. Studying a foreign language requires discipline and an awareness of important tips and tricks that can reduce the frustration and disappointment.
Here are three that are at the top of my list:
1) Understand how to learn – This may seem like a simple point but it’s worth its wait in gold. Understand that things take time. Patience is probably more valuable than your conjugations.
Too many people quit studying foreign languages after becoming discouraged with their progress. If you feel that you should progress everyday, you’re mistaken. If you feel you should make great strides each week, you’re mistaken.
You will learn slowly but surely at first and then there will come a point when you’re learning will accelerate. No one knows when. Just be patient and know that good things are happening in the depths of your brain.
2) A little studying each day is better than a lot of studying for a few days. – This is self-explanatory. You are much better off putting in 5 minutes a day when you really don’t feel like it than waiting a week and then studying for 2 hours.
The 5 minutes everyday can be anything you like. You could listen to a song in the foreign language, read the comics in the language, learn curse words in the language. As long as you’re connecting with the language in some way, you will benefit.
3) Find many ways to study. – By this I mean, listening one day, reading another, and so on. The trick to studying a foreign language on your own is to have many ways to both learn and entertain yourself. This way, you’ll always have at least one thing you can do each day to keep your momentum going.
If you know your learning style then do the majority of your learning using that style. After all, it’s the one that comes naturally to you.
In closing, knowing how to study a foreign language on your own is the most difficult part of the adventure. Discipline and desire are needed throughout. If you think you have what it takes, get to it. I did and I’m as fluent as can be. And loving it!