Real talk. I hate searching for language learning tips online. I’ve been learning languages for about a decade now and have therefore read a lot of articles and watched a lot of videos claiming to have helpful language learning tips and frankly very few of them do. Most of it is just generic information repeated over and over again. So that leaves series self-studiers like you and me AOL. Reading generic crap over and over could end up making our language learning process much longer and more difficult than it has to be. That is, until you read this post! Hehehe!
I know you’ve waited long enough so let’s just jump right in with these no non-sense tips to help you start your language learning journey process.
1. Choose a Color for Your Language
Like I said in a previous post about how I avoid mixing languages up, it is important to choose a color for the language you study. However, don’t just choose any color, choose a color that has some significance to you and to the language itself. Something that causes an emotional response or a mental image, so that you build a strong emotional and mental bond to the language as soon as possible. This bond will help you memorize vocabulary and make progress a little faster in the language. The idea is that you want to get as comfortable with the language as possible. Once you choose a color, buy a notebook in that color, buy highlighters and pens in that language, and if you use flashcards try to find some in that color.
2. Learn The Available Sounds in the Language First
Okay, this is probably unlike anything you’ve ever heard but hear me out. If you want to learn to seriously learn a language, it is important to understand what sounds are available and what sounds are NOT available in the language. For example, English has the ‘V’ and the ‘Th’ sound but Korean has neither. On the other side, Korean has the ‘Eu’ sound and English doesn’t have an equivalent.
You need to train your mouth and vocal chords to produce different sounds and it is important to begin training yourself immediately. Even before you even learn to read or write. You can learn these vowels and consonants in almost every language before learning to read even character based languages. For Chinese, you can use the pinyin chart by Yabla. It has every possible sound in the language with audio so you can practice them all. There is also a Russian chart with the IPA and corresponding audio for if the consonant or vowel is at the beginning, middle or end of a word. There is also a French chart based on the IPA with audio as well! It does help to learn the IPA, especially if you are learning more than one language
I suggest that you listen to these sounds and practice the sounds that have no equivalent in English (or whatever language you speak natively) especially often. I suggest you do this FIRST in your language study. Write down the sounds you learn in your fancy new language learning notebook with some examples that you think will help you remember the sounds. There is nothing worse than cementing poor pronunciation early on in your studies and then having to fix it later. It’s VERY hard to fix.
2. Memorize What Goes Where (NOT JUST SVO-SOV)
I know that alot of people will tell you to just look where the subject object verb will go only, but I want you to look at where most major sentence parts should go. Try to memorize that order and structure for basic sentences by using charts and stuff. For example, try to remember where the subject, preposition, object, adjective, time, and verbs go. Here is a chart of Japanese, Chinese and Korean sentence structure respectively.
Remembering the order early on will save you a lot of trouble later and will also help you speak more smoothly without having to stop and think so much about how to say what you want to say.
3. Hit the Ground Running: Use NATURAL Speed Audio to Learn Vocabulary and Phrases
A lot of people complain that they often can’t understand native speakers because they talk too fast. Well that’s because when we first learning languages, we have this ultra slowed down audio that helps us feel comfortable. Well, language learning isn’t comfortable. So you’re going to need to find natural audio that is as fast and normal as if you were speaking to a native speaker. This is difficult to find at the beginner level, but I do know one really awesome language learning program called Pimsleur that does exactly that! It presents phrases at normal speed, then slows it down once or twice so that you can hear it clearly, then speeds it back up for the remainder of the lesson. This method is a kind of shadowing method that requires that you repeat the native speaker exactly after them. This is EXCELLENT for language learners who are serious about learning and learning fast.
4. Organize Your Studies Based on Situations or Topics
If you are self-studying and have different language learning resources all over the place, try setting a topic for the week and learning as much vocabulary through videos, audio, movies, etc based on that topic. Start with the ones you’re actually interested in if you like, but don’t forget to do the practical ones to like going to a doctor, talking to the police, buying groceries, or going shopping.
5. Use Jokes!!
The best part about my language study is making jokes and stuff to help me memorize new vocabulary words. Here’s an example from my Instagram page:
Okay, that one isn’t really a good joke, but you know what I mean. Make a joke based on the vocabulary word to help you remember it!
Bonus: Language learning is about being wrong over and over
Language learning is about being wrong over and over and over again. Making mistakes and then correcting those mistakes. If you afraid of being wrong, or don’t like being wrong, you’re going to have a hard time because language learning is about being wrong over and over until you get it right. Your attitude towards language learning must be open minded, willingness to be wrong and then corrected, and most importantly patience because this stuff takes a while!
Also don’t forget to enter into the Giveaway for a free Japanese and Korean textbook and a genkouyoushi textbook! You can enter here: https://mailchi.mp/5d1fee9996a6/lilijapanesegiveaway