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Learning a new language: 7 tips from a polyglot

Learning a new language is always a challenge. It requires a lot of perseverance and motivation. The good news is that you are not alone in this challenge. Many people have also taken on unknown languages and come back with techniques and methods to learn them more easily. In this article, we’ll look at the 7 tips for learning any language from Steve Kaufmann, an accomplished polyglot.

1. Take the time you need

Our brain is an incredible machine. It is capable of learning all the time, but you have to give it time. You won’t become a polyglot in a day, or even in a month. It is difficult to say how long it takes to learn a new language. It all depends on how hard you work, how motivated you are, how different/similar your mother tongue is to your target language… 

Still, if you give your brain time to “do its job”, you can become fluent in any language.

🧐 🧐 By the way… What does fluency in a language mean?

2. Do what you like

It is a well-known fact that any task that we like to do seems easy. So you will learn a new language more easily if you find a learning method that you enjoy. Do you hate reading? Forget about reading novels in their original version. Instead, take an interactive quiz, have a lesson with a native speaker or listen to a podcast, for example.

In the same way, you should preferably turn to educational resources related to your interests to boost your motivation.

Speaking of motivation, have you downloaded our white paper on motivation in distance learning? It’s free!

3. Active learning

Steve Kaufmann calls this tip more specifically “Learn to notice”. This means that during your learning sessions you should try to notice the specificities of each language in order to integrate them better. 

To do this, you need to pay attention and learn actively to help your brain understand the pattern of the language. Pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, syntax… Pay attention to the particularities of your target language.

4. Focus on vocabulary rather than grammar

The greater your lexical knowledge, the better your understanding of the language. The better you understand the language, the more likely you are to engage in conversation. The more you speak in the language you are learning, the better you will become! Vocabulary is the starting point of a virtuous circle in learning any new language.

On the other hand, to acquire vocabulary, you will need to focus mainly on listening and reading comprehension of the language. With these two areas of language learning, you will learn the rules of grammar naturally without having to spend hours reading textbooks.

5. Be patient

Be aware that when you are starting out in a new language, things may be unclear for a while. For example, you :

  • listen to a podcast 5 times in a row without understanding certain parts;
  • often ask people to repeat what they say;
  • are frustrated by that one grammar rule you can’t understand and apply…

This is normal! Don’t try to jump the gun by trying to get it all right and understand it all in the first few weeks. Take it easy on yourself so that you don’t lose motivation. 

A little tip: celebrate your successes to encourage your brain. An unfailingly positive attitude is the best way to learn a new language effortlessly.

⌛️ Going further: how long does it take to become bilingual?

6. Have the tools to learn a new language

Gone are the days of learning languages simply with a grammar book and vocabulary cards. With your smartphone and computer, you now have access to other incredibly powerful tools: digital or audio books, YouTube videos, flashcards (interactive vocabulary cards), language games, quizzes… Don’t miss out! 

Note: thanks to digital tools, blended learning allows you to find the right balance between autonomous learning sessions and lessons with a trainer. To find out more, read our article: What is blended learning? Let’s find out!

7. Become an independent learner

Having control over your language training is an important factor in the success of your learning. You decide what you want to learn, why you want to learn it and what learning methods are right for you. By being in control of your training, you will be more motivated and achieve better results.

Did you know? With 1to1PROGRESS, you get a tailor-made language programme that meets your expectations. You can decide on the planning of your lessons and even choose your trainer! Of course, you are never on your own and our coaches are there to support you whenever you need it.

Would you like to hear Steve Kaufmann’s tips?

It’s here 👇