So you’re doing your best to learn a new language, and putting in a lot of effort to achieve fluency. But there’s that certain someone in your language class who is having an annoyingly easier time than you. S/he seems to sponge up new language concepts easily and uses every new word and expression with ease and confidence.
You? Still struggling with remembering that verb tense? Or in recalling the words you were learning yesterday? Relax. While you may envy the cool effortless way of learning that these other individuals have, the truth is there’s a secret to their success. They probably just have efficient study habits. Study habits that you can try and tweak for yourself. In fact, when you use your time wisely and efficiently in set study time periods every day, the results can be astonishing.
Here are seven habits of effective language learners that they typically use to become confident speakers:
1. They Constantly Review Their Lessons
The language content material you don’t review, you forget, and this means that all the time you’ve spent learning a particular lesson has gone to waste. Effective language learners are well aware of this and make reviewing lessons an important study habit. They constantly go over flashcards and past notes in a bid to incorporate the knowledge into their long-term memory. They understand that daily language learning is the key to success.
2. They Have Daily Study Sessions
Smart language learners recognize binge-learning isn’t an effective way of learning and constitutes an illusion of progress. When you study long vocabulary lists all at once, or pore through more than one chapter of your textbook, you overload your brain.
At the same time, the information you absorb in a binge-studying session is incorporated into your short-term memory. When you study too much, it’s likely you’ll have problems remembering rules and concepts the following day.
The truth is constant binge studying leads to burnout. You may think you are working hard, and making progress, but the truth is you’re overworking your brain and not getting very good results. The best study tactic is to learn the material piecemeal in daily sessions, say half an hour to an hour a day.
3. Effective Learners Find Ways to Motivate Their Learning
Smart learners realize constant motivation is key when you’re learning a new language. A trick they often employ is to spend time learning about passion topics of theirs in the language they are studying. If you enjoy reading comic books or knitting, acquire reading materials in the language so that you pick up on new vocabulary as you indulge in your favorite hobby. Your passion for the topic or hobby will keep you going as you focus on flexing your language abilities.
4. They Follow the Latest Neuroscience Research
Smart language learners approach language study as a science as well as an art. They read up on all the scientific literature available on language learning, memory and linguistics. They use scientifically proven techniques and tools that enable them to learn more effectively.
5. They Stick to Learning Methods That Work For Them
Smart language learners are patient and understand there’s no quick and easy way to learn an entire new language. They develop and settle for an effective learning method that they commit to on a long-term basis.
They are not afraid to experiment and test new methods from time to time, but they don’t spend their time always hunting for new study materials. Some people fall for this pattern. That is, always shopping for new online courses, educational textbooks or mobile apps instead of using that time to actually use the materials and study the language.
Being a serial shopper of language learning materials may make you feel like you’re doing something productive, but the opposite result is true. Now it’s perfectly all right to research different learning methods, but remember to pick one or two that you like so that you start learning.
6. Smart Language Learners Fail Often But Aren’t Discouraged
Smart language learners quickly bounce back from their mistakes and misunderstandings and see these as necessary for learning and improving.
The best way to practice what you’ve learned is to delve right in and use new expressions right after learning them and to be prepared to make mistakes. Smart language learners use the experience to remember the correct expression. (Know that difficult-to-learn languages like Arabic, Chinese and Japanese will trip you up more than easier languages like Spanish.)
Effective language learners remain upbeat and positive and know it’s okay to make small mistakes here and there. They recognize the true failure is to not learn from mistakes or to quit altogether.
7. They Develop An Ear for Real-Life Applications of the Language
Smart language learners pay attention to the expressions native speakers use within a specific context, how they are pronounced and what gestures are used to communicate the message.
They understand that dictionaries and textbooks teach you the grammatically correct version of the language, but not the natural day-to-day uses of speech that native speakers use. In fact, an expression that you aced in an exam may actually trigger laughs in a real-world setting because it’s not used often.
Effective language learners know that the best way to learn a language is to regularly engage with native speakers and to listen carefully to their expressions. Some even jot down the natural sentence constructions they hear so they can study them later. This means listening in on conversations between native speakers, watching movies in the language, or listening to podcasts while taking notes.
By adopting even just one of these new study tips, you will be more effective in your language learning routines. Working smarter, not harder, will enable you to learn the language in an easier manner so that you are on a straighter path to fluency.