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12 Useful Tips to Learn a New Language

12 Useful Tips to Learn a New Language
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Languages. It is just a word, but it describes so many different things that help people around the world communicate with their peers, parents, friends and even their animals. Some people are able to speak only one language, meanwhile, some others collect them. But are languages really that easy to learn or are some people just more talented ? I’ve been able to collect a few useful tips to learn a new language, which will hopefully help you whether you are a monolingual or a multilingual !

1. Avoid rushing

Learning a new language and trying to be fluent as quickly as possible can be exciting, but it can also mean you aren’t refreshing what you’ve learned before. Being fluent in a language means you have not forgotten everything you’ve learned along the way, and that you can have conversations without looking for the words in your memory for too long. You should rather take your time, refresh what you already know and enjoy the process of language learning.

2. Use topics to build your vocabulary

In a lot of languages, words can have many different meanings depending on the context. Trying to learn words with no particular subject would be difficult and time consuming. Topics on the other hand, can put you in a particular context or subject which will make it easier to learn or guess words and their meaning and therefore, will help you construct a stable base for your vocabulary.

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3. Set yourself realistic goals

The reason why many people think they’re “not talented” at learning languages and end up abandoning is that they set goals that are way too unrealistic to achieve. Being fluent in one month is way too difficult, unless you’re not doing anything but studying the language. And even then, you’d only be able to read and write properly. Setting an appropriate, realistic goal goes hand in hand with taking your time and actually enjoying every bit of the learning you’re doing.

4. Don’t shy away from grammar

Grammar. This word can be pretty scary. Hearing about substantives and gerunds and whatnots can make one feel quite uncomfortable. However, once you know what it is all about and how you have to use that, it can help you improve the quality of your speech, and you will be able to understand why someone said this and not that. You will also gain more confidence and it will validate what you already know, or correct it.

5. Speak and accept being corrected

One of your main goals when you start learning a new language is being able to speak with natives, understanding them and being understood by them. At first, it will be difficult, but if you really want to learn, you will have to do it at some point, so it is better to start earlier, so that your speaking skills can improve along with your grammatical or writing skills. Now you might be scared of being corrected, because you think it’s embarrassing. In fact, it really isn’t. When you think about it, our parents and family members corrected us when we were children, and we did not seem to care about it. Natives are actually very likely to think your little mistakes are cute. Accept being corrected with a smile and say thank you, it will help you not be embarrassed!

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6. Use music, books, movies and media

Sometimes, we learn new words from our own language(s) that we didn’t know about. We guess their meaning because of the context they are put in. Think about it, have you never learned a new word from a TV show, a book or a song? You can do that with any language you’re learning. Some people have learned languages by solely watching television in those particular languages. It might be because our brains recognize certain situations, because of patterns or just because of repetition. So get your iPod or kindle and just go for it!

7. Learn about the culture

One thing that can make everything in the language more relevant is learning about the culture. It will also give you more things to discuss with natives. History, cuisine and literature are just a few aspects of all your possible cultural interest choices. This tip is particularly useful since it will also give you an idea of what it could be like to live or travel to that specific country or group of countries.

8. Use apps and websites to stay motivated

Learning a language from books or courses can get boring pretty fast, and it can kill your passion or your interest very quickly. To avoid that, using websites and apps can be pretty helpful since they allow you to learn languages while completing fun and amusing tasks instead of just reading boring papers. You’ll find a few examples at the end of this article.

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9. Be regular, dive into the language daily

A lot of the time, when people want to learn something new, either a language, or a new dance move, or even a sport, they think that they’re going to be able to do it overnight, with little to no effort, or without committing to it. That is absolutely wrong. Languages, just like mathematics, dancing or painting have to be studied regularly. You must dive into the language daily if not multiple times a day, to keep the information and make it easier for yourself to develop your skills.

10. Plan a trip for complete immersion

Who doesn’t love a little trip? Complete immersion allows you to be fully surrounded by people who speak the language you’re learning, it will force you to communicate with them in that language, and you will be able to discover the differences between real speech (as heard in the streets) and “lesson” speech. One step closer from speaking like a native!

11. Get a crush on a native speaker

This might sound very crazy, but have you considered getting a crush on a native speaker? Obviously, this is a joke, but it can truly be very helpful. When you have a crush on someone, you want to do your best to impress them, and their interests become your interests. I’ve heard a lot of stories about people learning a new language because of a crush they had on a handsome Dutch man, or a beautiful Greek woman.

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12. Useful resources

Duolingo, Pimsleur, Busuu, Babbel and Memrise are just a few examples of what you could use to get better at a language, but there are also several youtube channels and blogs that can help you with it!

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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