Have you ever set a New Year’s resolution to learn a foreign language?
Have you ever sat down and studied a language on January 1st, full of hope for new and bright learning opportunities, only to drop everything after a few weeks?
You started off so strong, so passionately, and then, much to your dismay, you got lost along the way because you didn’t know what resources to choose, what to do with those you had chosen, or when and how to learn?
If you have felt this sense of frustration or still feel it, keep reading; I will tell you what to do to start learning a language efficiently in the new year.
I know what to do in cases like this because I, too, have gone through all those things when I started learning German on my own, many years ago.
Back then, I sat myself down every day, eager to learn. Despite that enthusiasm, I quickly got lost, and would stare blankly at my old, dusty German grammar tome. I didn’t know when, how, or what to learn, so little actual learning took place.
Then, something amazing happened.
Instead of waiting for my grammar text to magically teach me German, I started acting on my own. Specifically, I started taking regular actions which helped me improve my German every single day.
In short, I formed a series of powerful language learning habits, which completely changed the way I learned languages.
See, when people ask me how I can speak so many languages, they often tend to think that I’ve lived in many different countries, or that I have a genius-level intellect, or a wide-open schedule only dedicated to language learning.
They think this because, to them, to learn so many languages from home, with a normal intellect, and a normal schedule seems impossible.
But it’s not impossible. All you need to do the same are the right habits, informed by essential language learning principles.
Anyone—and I mean anyone—can do what I’ve done, so long as you follow these principles.
Once you have fully grasped these powerful learning principles, and started to build habits upon them, you are guaranteed to have success in language learning, no matter the method you use, or the circumstances you find yourself in.
The Ten Essential Elements of Successful Language Learning
“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” ― Harrington Emerson
A way to understand why a certain category of learners is successful is not to ask each one of them which method they use, since everyone has their own. Rather, ask yourself what successful learners have in common.
The truth of the matter is this: All successful learners abide by the same, immutable, universal learning principles. These principles are what we call the Ten Essential Elements of Successful Language Learning, which are:
- Time Management
- Clear Goals
Turning Essential Principles into Essential Habits
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle
These ten elements of learning are the backbone of any successful learning endeavor. However, they are meaningless unless they are turned into the kind of concrete, daily actions that actually cause learning to take place.
Habits and principles are inextricably entangled. If our ten principles are the foundation of language learning, habits are the tools that help us build success atop those foundations.
Habits take the theoretical principles of good language learning, and make them real.
Think about it this way:
When you see an incredible athlete, a amazing polyglot, or a prodigious violinist, you must remind yourself that behind those talents lie thousands and thousands of hours of practice.
This practice is not applied randomly, but steadily and constantly, through a rock-solid series of habits.
For your language success, both in the new year and in the long-term future, you need to start creating language habits that help make language learning happen.
To make sure that you’re creating the right habits, however, you need to build these habits on tried and tested language learning principles.
To learn these principles, and finally form the best-possible foundation for your future success as a language learner, I suggest you take my course at LinguaCore, called 10 Essential Elements Plus: Building the 10 Habits.
From there, you can start thinking about the kind of actions you will take to make language learning actually happen for you—not tomorrow, not next week, not next year, but right here and right now.
Written by Luca Lampariello