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How to start learning a language? 4 things you need to know

Learning a new language is never easy. No matter how motivated you are, you don’t know where to start to get a good grounding. English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch… whatever language you choose, there are simple tips and advice to apply for effective learning. How to start learning a language? From using the right resources to planning your lessons, we’ll guide you.

1. Don’t drown in the flood of language resources

If you’re just starting to learn a language, you’re probably very motivated, and so much the better! To give yourself the best chance, you may have :

  • downloaded several applications on your smartphone;
  • invested in one or more language textbooks;
  • bought a subscription to a newspaper in your target language;
  • etc.

But do you really think you will have the time and the will to use all these resources? Are you sure that they are all suitable for your level? 

Unfortunately, chances are that the books you just bought will end up collecting dust in your library and your applications will end up in limbo on your phone. The important thing is not to have lots of resources, but to know how to choose the right ones. 

You can count on your 1to1PROGRESS trainer to provide you with materials and exercises adapted to your level. You will also find additional resources on your learning platform that have been unearthed by our language experts. However, if you want more, here are the criteria to consider when targeting the right resources:

  1.  Choose materials that are relevant to your current level and will help you progress. In other words, if you are a beginner in the language, make sure that the resources you choose focus on the basics. They should also allow you to progress in mastering the language and therefore offer lessons that are progressively more difficult.
  2.  Prefer resources that deal with topics that appeal to you. Why listen to a podcast in English about gardening if it’s not your thing? Do you like sports? Then watch your favourite competitions in VO on YouTube, it will be much more beneficial for your learning.

2. Plan your lessons… and create a work routine

Have you already planned your lessons with your 1to1PROGRESS trainer? Perfect! Your lessons by video conference or telephone will help you make quick progress in the language. Ideally, we recommend that you have at least two hours of lessons per week in order to benefit from effective learning.  

However, lessons alone are not enough to learn a language. In fact, the key to success is the work you do in between lessons. So you will need to organise yourself to create time for your language learning activities.

Remember that learning a language is not something you can do in a day… or a week or even a month. 

In the beginning, you will probably be sufficiently motivated to work on your own without having to set aside specific time slots in your schedule. But if that motivation ever wanes, you’ll be more than happy to have a work routine in place that you can stick to.

How does this routine actually work in practice? That is up to you. However, here are a few things that may help you:

  •  always have your sessions at the same time of the day, preferably at times when you have the most energy;
  • create a good working condition by limiting distractions;
  • set a time limit for each session (e.g. 30-45 minutes);
  • always start and end your session with a “ritual” to condition your brain to start working… and to rest. For example: before you start, listen to music that helps you concentrate and when you’re done, take a few steps to stretch your legs.

🔍 Going further: How to learn a language effectively?

3. Revise a little every day

Many multilingual learners make the mistake of starting their language learning with long sessions, but only once a week, for example. However, it is important to have daily exposure to the language in order to assimilate it more quickly.

Therefore, working for 30 minutes every day is better than working for 4 hours every Saturday morning. 

The good news is that it is very easy to vary the activities so that you don’t get bored. When planning your independent sessions (as recommended in the previous paragraph), remember to note what type of exercise you plan to do. Here is a small example:

  • Monday: listen to a podcast (15 minutes) and note down interesting vocabulary (15 minutes);
  • Tuesday: review the vocabulary from the podcast (10 minutes) and learn a new grammar point (20 minutes);
  •  Wednesday: lesson with 1to1PROGRESS (1 hour);
  • Thursday: review the lesson from the previous day and do the exercises (30 minutes);
  • Friday: watch a film in VO (2 hours);
  •  Saturday: lesson with 1to1PROGRESS (1 hour);
  •  Sunday: revise the lesson from the previous day and do the exercises (30 minutes).

 4. Recording progress and celebrating success

How do I start learning a language? By getting your head out of the game every now and then. You’ll soon realise that learning a new language can be addictive. You work hard every day and sometimes you feel like you’re not making any progress. 

Think about creating a little ‘logbook’ to record the tasks you do in each session. That way, whenever you have any doubts or a drop in motivation levels, you can simply go back to your notes to realise how far you’ve come. 

💡 On the same topic: How to measure your language learning progress?

This is a great way to keep your motivation up and keep learning your target language with the same level of enthusiasm as the months go by. 

So how to start learning a language?

As you can see, starting to learn a language requires motivation and organisation. Fortunately, when you start with 1to1PROGRESS, you are not alone in putting all this into practice. You get advice from your trainer as well as from a dedicated coach.

How to start learning a language? What if your new language adventure started with a simple click? 👇