Some languages are less structured than others
Learning languages: the 3 most effective methods, the 5 most important tips and the 5 most common mistakes!
Do you want to learn a new language effectively? But have you had little success so far or just want to get to know new methods and learning techniques?
- The next trip is coming up and you want yourself not only communicate with hands and feet?
- You want to speak your foreign language, but afraid to make mistakes and embarrass you?
- Are you missing the words? You just can't remember any vocabulary and grammar rules don't get stuck?
Learn in the Sprachheld video seminar how you have to proceed step-by-step to learn a new language in 6 months.
How can you learn languages successfully too? Picture together with Luca Lampariello during the video shoot.
I speak myself 6 languages, have been reporting since 4 years here on Sprachheld learn about effective languages and have Dozens interviewed by the most famous language learning experts.
This post gives you an overview of:
- Which 3 methods lead to success when learning languages: Which methods do polyglots use.
- What are the 5 most important tips for learning a language: Observe these and you will learn your foreign language successfully.
- What are the 5 most common mistakes when learning languages: What mistakes do most language learners make and why they fail because of them.
Here you can find: The most popular language learning apps in comparison.
The 3 most important ways to learn a language effectively and successfully.
What's the best way to learn a foreign language? That is the eternal question.
Unfortunately, I have disappointing news: There is none.
Every successful language learner and polyglot has their own method. And yet each of these learns extremely effectively with this one.
Here you can find my guest post (in English) on the blog of Olly Richards of “I Will Teach You A Language”, in which I compare the language learning methods of 9 well-known polyglots: How The World’s Top Polyglots Learn Languages: What Do Their Methods Have In Common?
There are, however 3 very popular and effective methods which most successful language learners use. I also use these methods:
Method 1: The Input Method (Comprehensible Input)
Hear the foreign language a lot to improve your listening skills and develop a hearing for it.
This method was popularized primarily by Stephen Krashen and Steve Kaufmann.
With this method you hear and read as much as possible in the foreign language to improve your listening and text comprehension, expand your passive vocabulary and develop a feeling for the language.
You start with simple texts and listening texts (e.g. from a textbook or for children's book) and work your way progressively towards more demanding content.
The content should, however always be understandable to you at the core, even if you don't have to understand every word. That is why it is also called “Comprehensible Input”.
Further contribution: Interview with Stephen Krashen on his input hypothesis.
Method 2: The output method (Speak First or Speak from Day 1)
Speak your foreign language to learn how to form sentences and to learn to speak fluently.
This method was popularized primarily by Benny Lewis as "Speak from Day 1". This is about starting speaking as early as possible in order to learn how to speak the language and how to form sentences.
What can you say on the first day? Hello how are you and my name is. Isn't that enough?But that's exactly how it works. You say everything you can and more is added every day.
So you can use and speak the language quickly. And it's more fun because you don't have to spend months preparing.
Danger with this method: The accent! If you have trouble pronouncing the language well, I would advise against this method. If you mill in a bad accent, it will be difficult to get rid of it. In this case, it is worth practicing pronunciation with native speakers or language teachers to get rid of your accent.
Method 3: the translation method
Translate from the foreign language and back.
This method was best known by Luca Lampariello.You translate a foreign language text and then translate it back again.
In this way you learn explicit vocabulary and the structure of sentences. This means that you don't have to learn extra vocabulary and grammar, you automatically get a feeling for them through the translation.
This method is particularly suitable if you like to proceed according to the given structure. If you work with textbooks and work your way up to heavier texts, you have a clear structure.
Further contribution: Interview with Luca Lampariello about his bidirectional translation method.
Final note: While each method was popularized by certain polyglots, it does not mean that they invented them. All of these methods are older, some centuries old, and have been used in this way or similar for a long time.
My personal method
I like to use a combination of method 1 & 2. That means, I first get a lot of input by listening and reading a lot. I do that for about 1-2 months.
Every day I give myself as much input as possible. And then start speaking as quickly as possible - also as much as possible (approx. 3 discussions per week).
The 5 most important tips for learning languages
From my years of experience and coaching dozens of language learners, For me, these 5 tips have emerged as the most important ones (here you can find more tips for learning languages):
Tip 1: use the language
Without using the language, you will never master it. Learning grammar and vocabulary is all well and good, but it will not get you there on its own.
Compare that to learning to swim. You could learn the best techniques in the theory lesson in the dry, but will you be able to swim afterwards?
It's the same with learning languages. You have to use the language to master it.
Specifically, that means: speaking. Writing also helps. The important thing is that you manipulate language. This means that you form your own sentences.
For the methods, it was the output method: you create language.
Tip 2: learn relevant content
Imagine you want to learn Spanish for work so that you can negotiate.
You are attending a course:
- To your right is someone who likes to travel to Mallorca for a beach vacation.
- On your left someone who wants to be able to talk to his Colombian girlfriend.
Should you really all be on the same course? Probably not.
Unfortunately, that's how it works most of the time. Every language learner learns the same content. Although everyone learns the language for a different purpose.
This is pointless in several ways:
- It is boring for you because you are learning the wrong content.
- It's hard to apply the content (see tip 2) because you don't need it. And forgets her again so quickly.
You're barely getting anywhere and it's no fun so there is a great risk that you will lose motivation. Therefore, you should only learn content that is useful for you.
Tip 3: Integrate the language into everyday life
Why not cook in a foreign language too? That way, learning is much more fun!
The traditional language learning model looks like this: Language course 1-2 times a week, diligently doing homework, at the end an exam and then you learn the language.
Unfortunately that doesn't work. You cannot learn a foreign language successfully if you only study a few hours a week at certain times and according to instructions.
You only learn a language when you are surrounded by it every day and when it is alive. The whole thing is called immersion, so to speak, immersion in the foreign language.
This is why you learn a foreign language so quickly abroad: Because you are constantly surrounded by it. But you can also create such an environment in your hometown.
Here are a few options:
Try to switch to the foreign language as much as possible in your everyday life and you'll be living the language in no time.
Further contribution: With immersion you surround yourself with the foreign language on a daily basis.
Tip 4: Don't be afraid of mistakes, because these are the language learning turbo
Everyone is afraid of making mistakes. It's embarrassing and you don't want to be embarrassed.
However, mistakes are actually the fastest way to learn a language. Provided your mistakes are corrected.
Think of the kid who reaches up to the stove to see what happens. It doesn't happen a second time. How often did the parents have to say it? In the end, it was the bug that caused the behavior change.
It's the same with learning languages. Make mistakes and you will learn from them. Much faster than if you were just cramming theory all the time and trying desperately to avoid every mistake.
Further article: Why you have to make mistakes in order to learn a language.
Tip 5: A Great Reason To Learn For Long Term Success
Most language learners fail because of them no real reason therefore have to learn the foreign language.
"It looks nice on the résumé", "my employer would like that" or "it would be great to speak another language" are not reasons that lead to success.
It is like this: You don't learn a foreign language overnight and it takes time and effort.
The question you should therefore ask yourself is: Do I really want this?
It is better to ask this question at the beginning than to find out after 2 months of effort that it is not worthwhile for you and then stop. So think about really good reasons so that your effort pays off.
Potentially good reasons are:
- You like to travel to the country.
- It is your partner's native language.
- Your family speaks this language.
- You really care about the culture.
How else can you make it worthwhile?
Further contribution: 15 tips on how you can motivate yourself to learn languages.
The 5 biggest and most common mistakes in language learning
Avoid these 5 mistakes when learning languages and you will learn your foreign language faster and more effectively.
Error 1: Too little contact with the language
In tip 3 you learned that you should have daily contact with the foreign language. The opposite of this is to have too little contact.
Create an environment in which you have contact with the foreign language several times a day - hear, see and read them everywhere - and you will move forward faster.
In short - create immersion: Live the language as if you were abroad.
Mistake 2: learning aimlessly and without a plan
A learning plan helps you to proceed in a structured manner and to learn the right content.
In tip 5 you learned that you need a good reason to learn languages.Once you have established this reason, you should then consider what you need to do to achieve your goal.
What are the intermediate goals that you have to achieve in order to be able to negotiate in Spanish?
- Which vocabulary do you have to master?
- What topics do you need to be able to talk about?
Set intermediate goals. Create a daily or weekly study plan of what you need to achieve in order to get closer to your goal.
Then measure yourself against your own goals. That motivates and you can see very clearly how you are progressing.
If you just learn from the gut without structure and without a plan, what is just in front of your nose, you will only progress slowly.
Further article: How to create a learning plan to learn in a structured and effective way.
Mistake 3: Getting stuck with grammar and vocabulary
Grammar and vocabulary. Grammar and vocabulary. This is how one imagined learning languages in school. Of course it's not fun.
Even if both are of course very important when learning languages, the use of the language (see tip 1) with relevant content (see tip 2) is much more important.If you take these two tips to heart, you will learn grammar and vocabulary on the side.
Because let's be honest, you can really only (or mostly) by learning grammar and vocabulary learn to speak a foreign language?
Mistake 4: Irregular learning
Imagine you want more stamina. You go for a run. Every day for 1 week. Then not at all for 2 weeks and then 2 times a week.Will that lead to success? Or rather, if you distribute all the times evenly over the weeks?
If you take a longer break (that could be a few days), a lot is lost again.That means, after every break you basically start from the beginning. And all of the work was (at least in part) in vain.
Learn steadily, learn regularly. Better to study this way for a few weeks or days and then take a longer break. Better 15 minutes every day than 1 hour twice a week. The constant drop wears away the stone.
Mistake 5: obsessively studying
Compulsion when learning languages is a real motivational killer.
Most language learners force themselves to learn a foreign language. Especially in the German work ethic it says that who works hard, will reap the fruits of his work.But when it comes to learning languages, that's the biggest motivational killer.
Without sufficient motivation it is impossible to learn a foreign language and if you force yourself to learn every day, you will steadily reduce your motivation. Learning languages can be fun too!
- Learn with content that you enjoy.
- Also watch a series in the language.
- Make educational games and cook in the language with friends.
There are many ways to have fun while learning languages. You will be more successful in this way than if you always force yourself to study hard.
Conclusion: This is how you learn your foreign language successfully
Try the methods, follow the tips, and avoid the mistakes. Then you will be successful in learning languages.
And if you would like a step-by-step guide, to learn your foreign language effectively and successfully, then I have just the thing for you.
I created a video seminar for maximum success in learning languages: „Learn any foreign language in 6 months". In this you will find out exactly how you should proceed in order to successfully learn your foreign language.
That brings us to the end of my post with the best methods, tips, and biggest mistakes in language learning. And - which of the methods are you already using or are you going to use now? Or do you learn using a completely different method? Which tip has helped you the most, which mistakes will you no longer make? Leave me a comment, I look forward to your message - Your Gabriel Gelman!
And - how did you like my contribution? Please leave me a review:
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