Language learning is easiest for young children. Kids can become fluent on a native level if they begin learning by the age of 10. Fluency can still be achieved by the age of 17 when learning abilities begin to taper off compared to their younger peers.
Fortunately, for adults, they can pick up French books, Japanese flash cards, or Italian posters, find good teachers in instructors and peers, and still achieve fluency with hard work. The following may seem obvious but bears repeating for every language learner who feels frustrated with their progress.
Put the Hours In
The U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute believes that learning a language takes 4,400 hours. Divide it any way you want and it’s still a crazy amount. Some organizations believe that basic fluency can take 10 hours a day for 72 days for languages the FSI deems very difficult.
Use Various Focus and Studying Techniques
Certain focus and studying techniques have anecdotes and studies backing up their claims. One such technique is evoking the “testing effect” by quizzing one’s self after studying. After studying for a certain period, the student answers questions they set for themselves. These questions should come up again after a period to refresh their memory of the material.
Spaced repetition plays into recalling information after a period. In this technique, students wait before they review or quiz themselves on the material they previously learned. This technique and the one above it seek to break “the illusion of competence.” This effect refers to the feeling of knowing the material inside out when one is looking at the notes, only to forget when the text is out of sight.
The Pomodoro Technique is another spacing trick. Persons of variable attention spans focus on their work for 25 minutes. No distractions are allowed during this period. A five-minute rest is allowed after this intense timeframe before students undergo another session.
Incorporate the Language in Your Life
Language lives as long as it is used by a population on a daily basis. This rule also applies to learners. Learners can’t expect to get used to the language if they restrict their usage to the classroom. Incorporating the language into their daily lives allows learners to get used to it without constantly translating from their native tongue.
One way of doing this is to say the language equivalent of objects or tasks a student encounters every day. Learn to speak in the foreign language in your head. Conversing with native speakers or fellow learners in the language will also acclimatize students to it.
Have Fun; Stay Motivated
Don’t forget to have fun. Creativity is a crucial part of the learning process. Change up your studying method every now and then to prevent it from feeling like a chore. Practice your target language through visual art projects or performances, recorded or live. Performance-shy people can restrict the number of people who see these projects to those who can help check their language.
Meanwhile, staying motivated will carry students through studying even when the fun has passed. Students who remember why they began studying will learn to integrate their studies into their routines. Hammering these exercises into habits will ease the process and make the tips above feel like second nature.