There are many reasons why people want to learn a new language, including career advancement, desire to travel, communication with family members, or keeping their minds active. These are a few reasons why learning a language can benefit your life.
The problem for many adults is that the older you get, the harder it is to learn a new language. Also, focus and concentration levels decrease, committing things to memory becomes more challenging, and recalling what we learned is even more difficult.
Is the problem that we are too old, or is it that we are unmotivated, or is it that there is no more room in our brains for new information?
The answer to all the above is no; as we are never too old to learn something new, we can easily find ways to get motivated, and our brains continue to develop new neural pathways every time we learn something new.
The desire to learn a new language is the first step. Think of your brain like a sponge ready to soak up any new information you provide. The brain is constantly taking in data and sending it to your short-term memory, with the challenging part being storing that data in long-term memory and making it readily accessible when you need it.
Optimal sleep is the crucial factor when the transfer from short-term to long-term memory occurs. You need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night for maximum learning ability. That is also why students are advised to reread crucial information for an exam right before sleep. It allows the brain to process and prepare the information for the next day.
Tips for Learning a New Language
Although you may be excited or feel rushed to learn a new language, remember it takes time. While some people have an uncanny knack for learning new languages quickly, most are the opposite. A beginner language textbook with only a few hundred words might be the best option for many people, as most languages use about 200 words to make up half their natural vocabulary.
Do not try to be an overachiever, learning more than one language at a time. Yes, you may be planning a trip to Italy, Spain, France, and Greece in a few months, but there is no way you can learn all those languages simultaneously.
Here are some tips for learning a new language:
● Watch Movies Or Television Shows
Along with watching movies and shows from other countries, watching your favorites translated into other languages can help you learn quickly. After all, if you have seen every episode of your favorite show three times, you probably already know it well. Hearing phrases in another language helps you learn them. Also, turn off subtitles, as that will get in the way of your listening and learning.
● Listen To Music
As with watching movies and TV shows, listening to music can help you remember words and sentences and improve your pronunciation.
● Analyze What You Have Learned
Every time you sit down to study, review what you have already learned to keep it fresh in your head. You want to continue to build on the basics.
● Narrow The Focus Of Your Reading Materials
Read books or magazines that follow your interests to help improve your vocabulary while learning a language. Also, do not stop to look up words you do not know. Read the chapter or article one time to see how much you can understand, then go back a second time and reread while looking up words. Reread a third time to see how much more you comprehend.
● Speak Even With Mistakes
The sooner you start to speak, even with mistakes, the better you will get at it. See the next bullet point for ways to accomplish this.
● Find People To Communicate With
From local to online classes, Skype Meetups, or Zoom discussions, there are ways to improve your language skills by communicating with others. Language exchanges are very popular for improving communication skills.
● Limit Distractions
Use your allotted time wisely and turn off social media, television, and anything else that can distract you. Find a quiet place to study and learn.
How to Not Lose Motivation and Interest
Lack of motivation can derail any efforts, whether for learning a new language or anything else you want to accomplish. Many people are unmotivated to wash dishes or clean their homes, and then they wonder why a seemingly impossible task awaits. Staying motivated is the most significant factor in getting something done, including learning a language.
Luckily, there are many ways to help yourself get or stay motivated, so if one tactic does not work for you, there is something else you can try.
Of course, it is always easiest when there is someone else to help you stay motivated, but even if you are on your own, you can use some of the tips below to accomplish your goals:
● Set Interim Goals
Trying to learn everything all at once is impossible and sets you up for failure. Create achievable short-term goals, such as learning a certain number of new words and using them in a sentence each week. For example: “Where is the train station?” or “How much does this cost?” are great options for some of the first sentences to learn.
You should also set longer goals to keep you on track with your short-term targets. For example, carrying on a short conversation at the end of four weeks using the sentences you have already learned. Ask and answer your own questions if you are working independently.
● Use Apps And Games To Diversify Your Learning Routine
If you are tech-savvy and like to play games on your phone, there is no better way to improve your foreign language skills than by playing games. Here are some of the many fun options:
▪ MindSnacks: helps beginners and intermediate speakers learn over 1,000 words and verb conjunctions in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.
▪ FunEasyLearn: with 34 languages and 15,000 words and sentences for each, you can explore over 300 topics through various games. You can also play offline when no internet connection is available.
▪ Duolingo: one of the most well-known language apps, Duolingo helps you complete various levels while learning a new language.
▪ Lingo Legend: if fantasy and battle games are your passion, this language app is for you. Learn about 3,500 new words and phrases while battling monsters.
▪ Drops: with over 42 languages and about 3,000 words and phrases, this app helps you learn how to read characters other than the Roman alphabet. Beautiful illustrations and professional voice artists help you along the way.
● Plan A Visit To The Country
Planning the trip can be a lot of fun if you are learning a language because you want to travel somewhere. Also, when you go on websites, resist the impulse at first to translate the site into English. Try reading as much as you can in the native language and make note of anything you did not understand to check when you translate it.
By visiting the country, you can speak with the locals in their native language, improving your skills. Besides, nothing keeps you motivated, like knowing you are about to go on that trip.
● Be Disciplined And Schedule Your Learning Time, But Remain Flexible
Keeping a schedule for learning helps you stay focused and motivated, but keep it short. If you force yourself to study for an hour at a time, you may begin to dread those sessions. You might find two short 10-minute sessions a day work better for you than one longer one. Also, if something comes up, go with the flow and make a mental note to get back to your study later.
Reviewing what you learned that day right before bed can help your short-term memory commit to long-term memory while you sleep. You could even try listening to recordings as you go to sleep and see if that helps.
● Mood And Health State
It can be hard to stay motivated if you are stressed, depressed, or suffering from health problems. Fatigue can also get in the way of learning. These issues can impede the best efforts you have. Also, the older you get, the more susceptible you are to hormonal decline that can inhibit cognitive abilities.
For example, HGH deficiency can lead to fatigue, low energy levels, forgetfulness, poor focus, and even anxiety and depression. That can make it challenging to learn new things. Taking care of your mental and physical state is crucial, and learning if you have a growth hormone deficiency can help you discover what treatment options are available for HGH deficiency. Look closely at GF-9 reviews to see if that is a legitimate option.
Whatever your reasons for learning a new language, it is crucial to stay motivated and not procrastinate. If you are derailed in your efforts, get back up and start again.
Set clean and achievable goals each week and stick to them. Allow yourself rewards for accomplishing your goals. Variety is the spice of life, so mix up your routine. Incorporate reading, apps, movies, music, podcasts, and other resources to help you learn a new language.
Learning a new language benefits not only your goals but also your brain. New experiences help increase dopamine and send more myelin to the neurons, especially when repeating a new experience. The more new information and experiences you can provide your brain, the healthier it will stay.
Exercise, including walking, helps increase energy, endorphin release, and concentration. Double up the benefits by listening to a podcast or music in the language you are learning while walking.
Remember, everyone learns at their own pace, so do not judge yourself off anyone else. Make it fun, do not stress, and enjoy the process. Your brain will thank you.
Bob Duncan is the lead writer and partner on ConversationsWithBianca.com. A passionate parent, he’s always excited to dive into the conversation about anything from parenting, food & drink, travel, to gifts & more!