Keeping it Real

Now that we see some examples of hype used in getting you to buy a language course, let's get real when it comes to learning another language.

1. Make a regular commitment
Make time for your new language. When you expose yourself to a new language frequently, you pick it up quickly and easily. The longer you wait between lessons, the more you'll forget (and quickly!). So make time for your language, there are plenty of opportunities to learn, practice and review your language capabilities. Regular repetition is the key to learning any language, so don't be afraid to cover material again, and again and again!

2. Don't be shy
Learning a language will eventually involve using it and that involves making mistakes in the beginning. DON'T BE AFRAID of sounding strange, awkward or silly. If you don't open your mouth and speak, you'll miss out on making new friends, or getting the information you need (especially in an emergency!). You will impress people with your attempts at using the language.

3. Proceed at your own pace
Don't feel pressured into thinking you have only one chance to learn information before moving on to new material. Read and listen to lessons or parts of lessons as many times it takes to make you feel comfortable with what you're learning. You have all the time you need to learn. If you rush through, you make less progress.

4. Take Notes
Use a notebook and start a language journal. You'll learn much more quickly and effectively if you write it down or rephrase it in your own words once you've understood it. (Include any vocabulary, grammar, practice and examples, phrases from dialogues and more). Take your notes with you to review whenever you have extra time such as waiting for a bus or train, at the airport, while dinner is cooking, etc.

5. Don't worry about pronunciation
Listen to your audio several times. Listening is very important - you can't reproduce the sound until you hear and mimic it. Don't be afraid of sounding strange or being laughed at - how many celebrities, scientists, politicians, etc. speak English with a foreign accent, and still communicate. Just practice and don't worry about 100% perfection.

6. Go ahead and make mistakes
The more you speak and interact, the faster your mistakes will go away. So jump in and start talking! If you find you're making a large number of errors, take things more slowly and practice the parts that are giving you trouble. Even when you speak to a native speaker and he or she smiles at your performance, remember that it is usually a friendly smile and they admire you for your effort as well as for what you have already achieved in their language. Native speakers generally focus their attention on the content of your message and not on how you should speak correctly. Look at errors as part of your learning process and do not let them discourage you from practicing. Without practice you cannot be successful.

Do You Have Time to Learn? »