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Learning a Language
Now that I no longer live in a foreign country, it takes a lot more gumption to really stick to learning a language. When I could just walk down the street in Madrid and listen in on strangers’ conversations to figure out what they’re talking about, I don’t get that anymore. Of course, lots of folks don’t get the luxury of immersion, something that I mentioned before as the best way to go about learning a language. So what do you do when you can’t?
Dedicate your time
We all have schedules. That’s how people work. If you tell yourself to start learning a language today, it’s not going to happen. Pick up your calendar, grab a pen, and mark down a time slot. 4-5 PM. After the kids are asleep. During your lunch break. Whatever you can do to make it work, do it. Be specific. Don’t let yourself forget about it or put it off for another 5 minutes. Oh look, it’s 7:00! Time to open the book!
Come up with a goal
To accomplish anything in your life, you need goals. Now, like I said, learning a language requires a goal more specific than to just learn a language. For example, my goal is to pass the C2 exam for Spanish when it is available in November. Then, to add to that, create supplemental goals: I want to learn this specific vocabulary by next Friday, for example. Create bite-sized goals. As time goes on, they’ll layer themselves together until you can accomplish your big language learning goal!
I’ve mentioned my mistakes in learning a language in a previous post, and the one I’d like to apply here is about vocabulary. Yeah, we all hate it. There are thousands of words in a language and you’ve got to learn at least a solid chunk of it. My advice to you? Stick to topics. If you need to clean the house, arm yourself with a collection of household vocabulary and narrate your actions to yourself. Sweep the floor and wash the dishes in your target language. See a toothbrush? What do you use that for? If you can’t find other people to talk to in your language learning journey, talk to yourself!
Don’t limit yourself
Can’t go to the country of your choice? So what? Don’t give yourself excuses as to why you can’t do something. There is always a way around your limitations, especially in the internet age. Can’t find any books in your target language at your local library? Check out some of these language learning books. Have nobody to practice with? Find someone at Verbling to talk to you in your foreign language. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.