How to Start Language Learning (No Matter Your Level)

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Start language learning

I have a hard time finishing things. I’ve ‘started’ learning Spanish probably about 4 times now, and I’ve never achieved a level that I can comfortably label as fluent (although that’s not a concrete term). After spending the better part of a year living in Spain, speaking Spanish, and then coming back home to the states and speaking English, it’s tough to get back into the habit. I know so much higher-level vocabulary and grammar, but at the same time am missing chunks of vocab in a Spanish Curious George book! So how do you start language learning, even if you’re restarting?

Speak!

I’ll say it again and again til I bleed: you need to speak to learn a language! There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Verbling is my favorite way to accomplish this, and I’ve told you all about it here. Beginner, intermediate, or advanced, the only way to start language learning (or restart, if that’s the case) is to speak as much as you can!

You can always be a beginner

I went to the children’s section at the library to pick up some bilingual books. “I speak at an intermediate level!” I said, “I can go right to the 10-12 age range!”. I broke my brain on the second page. Even though I had learned so much Spanish and my non-language learning friends keep telling me I’m fluent, I have to put my pride and impatience to bed and allow myself to be a beginner; even if I felt I was “better” than these books, I couldn’t understand most of the words I was looking at. So, even though I’d had so much real-life experience with the language, I still had to start language learning all over again. I started out with these books.

Remember to enjoy it

Another failed attempt to get back in the gear to start language learning again was to watch Spanish TV, which was great! The problem? I got cocky. Again. I decided I’d learn the most if I made it hard on myself, and put on the Spanish subtitles. While this had worked for me in Spain, it didn’t work so well with a Mexican show, which used different vocabulary and accents than I’m used to. Again, enough with the pride! If you don’t enjoy it, you’re not going to stick to it. Go ahead, use the English subtitles. I promise you’ll learn.

Join a community

It’s hard to start language learning alone, and it’s a big reason why it never stuck for me. When you’re language learning alone, you don’t have somebody to keep you motivated, or ask you how you’re getting along. The best thing you can do to start, or even continue, learning a language is to join a language learning community.

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