Feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of learning a new language? With this strategy, you can beat the intimidation-procrastination cycle and set yourself up for success.
In fact, it’s Mango doctrine that language learning can (and should) be an engaging, life-changing experience. So, we sat down with expert linguists and polyglots to get the inside scoop on what beginner language learners need to know when they’re just starting out.
If you’ve already taken the first step and decided which language you want to study, discover how to beat procrastination, feelings of intimidation, and motivation hurdles with these five polyglot-approved steps to take when learning a new language.
1. Gather your learning resources and support systems
With the abundance of language-learning resources available, make sure you find the ones with the features that work best for you. Don’t be afraid to switch it up! You can take a break from your Mango lesson and check out the films available on Mango Movies (formerly Mango Premiere), or peruse Netflix’s world language film selection. For those of us who brave long commutes to school or work, make the most of your road time by listening to a language podcast. Training for your next 5k? Keep your brain active too by listening to a Spotify playlist of music in your target language while you go for a jog.
2. Set SMART goals
This acronym will help you set achievable goals to fuel and structure your language-learning progress. Your goals should be based on your motivations and, of course, SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based.
Once you’ve listed your goals, simplify them. For example, let’s say one of your goals is to make small talk with your Spanish-speaking neighbor. You can break down the first part of your Mango Spanish lesson, which mimics a real conversation, into digestible portions: first, learn common greetings in Spanish; second, practice introducing yourself; and third, master saying goodbye. Simple! Use this overview to create daily, weekly, and monthly objectives. It’s okay to start small, but create a plan. And stick to it. When you accomplish a goal, cross it off your list — how satisfying! This feeling of accomplishment will show you how far you’ve come, and motivate you to keep moving forward.
3. Personalize your vocabulary
There’s more to building vocabulary than just memorizing words — it’s best to memorize the right words — meaning vocabulary that you will actually use. Using the vocabulary is what actually helps you commit it to memory. So, choose target vocabulary based on your interests and communicative needs. Make it all about you. Plus, if you start out by studying content cultivated by native speakers and based on real-life situations, you will naturally be guided into studying useful vocabulary.
Personalizing your learning will also help you reach those goals we talked about in step two. If one of your goals is to travel around a different country on your next vacation, you could prioritize learning how to ask for directions, the names of landmarks and locations you wish to visit, and currency-related vocabulary. Or, if you’re learning a new language for your job, focus on the words that you’d use in your everyday projects.
4. Try multiple learning methods
Learning through different methods helps boost both memory and understanding, so plan to engage with your language from all angles. Four broadly-recognized ways to digest new material are visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. Get creative as you experiment — for some kinesthetic learning, try practicing the language while you move. For example, the next time you go grocery shopping, identify different food items in your new language and follow a new recipe written in your target language to hone your reading skills at the same time. Feel more engaged with visual learning? Fill your social media feeds with content from speakers of your new language, like @spanish_english_rosie for Spanish. Immerse yourself in the new language and soon you’ll even start thinking bilingually!
5. Teach others what you’ve learned
Once you start feeling confident enough, try teaching someone else what you’ve learned. The process of explaining something to another person challenges us to have a full grasp of the knowledge — making sure we actually know what we’re talking about! Using Mango’s Family Profiles feature, you can engage the whole family in your new language by adding up to five free Family Profiles. Practice chatting together as you work through the lessons, and help each other out when a certain verb tense or conjugation proves difficult — going from student to teacher will help you become a master of your new language.
Languages are complex and constantly evolving, but there’s no need to feel intimidated — it’s actually these characteristics that make learning a language such a rewarding endeavor. So, take your time, dive in, and you’ll be experiencing all the benefits of multilingualism before you know it.
Ready to take the plunge? Our language-learning system teaches you how to learn a new language through self-paced, Intuitive Language Construction, easing beginner anxiety and empowering learners to speak with confidence. Click the button below to create a free learning profile or jump back into your target language to start tackling your SMART goals.
What are your favorite goal-setting techniques? Share your strategy with the community in the comments below.