Advertising
Advertising

5 Awful Instructions to Ignore When Learning a Language

5 Awful Instructions to Ignore When Learning a Language

Getting the right advice when you’re learning something new can transform your learning process. But getting the wrong advice and mistakenly following it can undo that process very quickly.

So how do you distinguish the great advice from the awful? We’ll be honest, it’s difficult. Some of the worst advice out there about language learning can appear useful for the beginners or those without any previous experience learning.

This is why we’ve curated the top 5 awful advice for you to ignore (and run from).

1. “You’re too old” to learn a language

Despite what conventional society tells us, how ‘old’ we are shouldn’t affect our ability to reach fluency in a language. We’re not saying that a 50-year-old person can learn as fast as someone who’s 5 years old, but it’s more than possible.

Advertising

In fact, a study done by Hakuta, Bialystok and Wiley compared the language learning abilities in adults of different ages. Each participant was taught the same words in the same learning environment. The results showed that people over 50 learn just as well as people in their 20’s or 30’s.

2. You need to travel to a foreign country

With the advent of technology today, there’s no reason for anyone to travel to a foreign country to learn a language. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a plane ticket and finding accommodation, you can find amazing teachers where you are.

From my experiences traveling, I’ve seen many people that assumed living in a foreign country will guarantee their ability to learn. Because of this, they didn’t make much of an effort, and by the time they had to come back home, it was too late.

The key is motivation, not just environment.

Advertising

3. Just use free mobile apps!

There are plenty of free mobile apps out there that can help you practice your vocabulary and grammar. But there’s only so much that these apps can help you with.

Duolingo is probably the first tool you think of, but the following is the response from some customers at Rype:

rype-quit-7-798x486
    rype-quit-6-792x325

      Advertising

      rype-qui-4-821x348

        The point we’re trying to make is not that you shouldn’t use these free language apps to learn, but you shouldn’t rely on it being your sole method of learning. It’s like trying to get in the best shape of your life by relying on a fitness application on your phone, there’s more to it!

        4. Focus on using just one method to learn a language

        Focus is certainly important, but as we shared before, relying on one method is not the way to go. There’s a method you want to use for developing your writing skills, another method for speaking, and so forth.

        You should also find different ways to activate your brain. The purpose of learning a language for most people is to communicate with others, and that’s how we should be learning how to speak it. You can do this via language meetups, finding accountability partners, or working with a private language teacher online (especially if you’re busy).

        5. You can learn conversation in the classroom

        Last but not least, the advice on how to become a better speaker in a foreign language.

        Advertising

        Tim Ferriss, who’s a polyglot and bestselling author, says:

        “Somewhat like riding a bike, though unfortunately not as permanent, language fluency is more dependent on practicing the right things than learning the right things. The rules (grammar) can be learned through materials and classes, but the necessary tools (vocabulary and idiomatic usage) will come from independent study and practice in a native environment.”

        His point was that there’s nothing that can replace practicing with a real human being to improve your communication skills. That’s how we learned our first language, and it’s still the best way to learn the second.

        More by this author

        Sean Kim

        Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

        How to Learn Anything Fast? Take These 5 Powerful Steps 7 Best Language Learning Apps and Websites What’s the Easiest Language to Learn for English Speakers? 7 Hardest Languages to Learn For English Speakers 7 Best Languages to Learn to Stay Competitive

        Trending in Brain

        1 Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts 2 What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good) 3 What is Cognitive Dissonance (And How to Dodge it) 4 How Do Memory Vitamins Work? (And the Best Brain Supplements) 5 How Not to Let Cognitive Bias Control Us When Dealing with COVID-19

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Published on July 7, 2020

        Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

        Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

        Exercise isn’t just for your body. Just as important is keeping your mind strong by training your brain with fun mental workouts.

        Think of your mental and physical fitness the same way: you don’t need to be an Olympian, but you do need to stay in shape if you want to live well. A few cognitive workouts per week can make a major difference in your life.

        The Skinny on Mental Workouts

        Physical fitness boosts your stamina and increases your muscular strength. The benefits of working up a mental sweat and brain training, however, might not be so obvious.

        Research suggests that cognitive training has short- and long-term benefits, including:

        1. Improved Memory

        After eight weeks of cognitive training, 19 arithmetic students showed a larger and more active hippocampus than their peers.[1] The hippocampus is associated with learning and memory.

        2. Reduced Stress Levels

        Mastering new tasks more quickly makes the work of learning less stressful. A stronger memory can call information to mind with less effort.

        3. Improved Work Performance

        Learning quickly and remembering key details can lead to a better career. Employers are increasingly hiring for soft skills, such as trainability and attention to detail.

        4. Delayed Cognitive Decline

        As we age, we experience cognitive decline. A study published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that 10 one-hour sessions of cognitive training boosted reasoning and information processing speed in adults between the ages of 65 and 94.[2]

        Advertising

        Just like in physical exercise, what’s important isn’t the specific workout. To be sustainable, cognitive workouts need to be easy and fun. Otherwise, it’s too easy to throw in the towel.

        Fun Brain Training Exercises for Everyone

        The best about fun mental workouts? There’s no need to head to a gym. Feel free to mix and match the following activities for daily brain training:

        1. Brainstorming

        One of the simplest, easiest ways to engage your brain? Coming up with solutions to a challenge you’re facing.

        If you aren’t good at solo ideation, ask a partner to join you. When I’m struggling to come up with topics to write about, I call up my editors to bat ideas around. Friends or co-workers are usually happy to help.

        2. Dancing

        Isn’t dancing a physical workout? Yes, but the coordination it requires is also great for training your brain. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

        Studies suggest that dance boosts multiple cognitive skills.[3] Planning, memorizing, organizing, and creativity all seem to benefit from a few fancy steps.

        3. Learning a New Language

        Learning a new language takes time. But if you split it up into small, daily lessons, it’s easier than you might think.

        With language learning, every lesson builds on the last. When I was learning Spanish, I used a tool called Guru for knowledge management.[4] Every time I’d learn a verb tense, I’d create a new card to give me a quick refresh before moving on.

        Advertising

        4. Developing a Hobby

        Like languages, hobbies take time to develop. But that’s the fun of them: you get a little better—both at the hobby and in terms of brain function—each time you do them.

        If you’re trying to train your brain and improve a certain cognitive skill, choose a hobby that aligns with it.

        For example:

        • Attention to detail: Pick a hobby that requires you to work patiently with small features. Woodworking, model-building, sketching, and painting are all good choices.
        • Learning and memory: Choose an activity that requires you to remember lots of details. Your best bets are hobbies that require lots of categorization, such as collecting stamps or coins.
        • Motor function: For this brain function, physical activities can double as fun mental workouts. Sports like soccer and basketball build gross motor functions. Fine motor functions are better trained through activities like table tennis or even playing video games.
        • Problem-solving: Most hobbies require you to problem-solve in one way or another. The ones that test your problem-solving skills the most, however, take some investigation.

        Geocaching is a good example: Using a combination of clues and GPS readings, geocaching involves finding and re-hiding containers. Typically done in a wooded area, geocaching is a fun way to put your problem-solving skills to the test.

        5. Board Games

        Playing a board game might not be much of a physical workout, but it does make for a fun mental workout. With that said, not all board games work equally well for cognitive training.

        Avoid “no brainer” board games, like Candy Land. Opt for strategy-focused ones, such as Risk or Settlers of Catan. Remember to ask other players for their input.

        6. Card Games

        Card games build cognitive skills in much the same way board games do. They have a few extra advantages, though, that make them worthy of special attention.

        A deck of cards is inexpensive and can be played anywhere, from a kitchen to an airplane. More importantly, a deck of cards opens the door to dozens of different games. Challenge yourself to learn a few in an afternoon.

        Advertising

        7. Puzzles

        Puzzles are great tools for building a specific cognitive skill: visuospatial function. Visuospatial function is important to train because it’s one of the first abilities to slip in people struggling with cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s.[5]

        Choose a puzzle you’ll stick with. There’s no shame in starting with a 500-piece puzzle or choosing one that makes a childish image.

        8. Playing Music

        Listening to music is a great way to unwind. But playing music goes one step further. On top of entertaining you, it makes for a fun mental workout.

        Again, choose an instrument you know you’ll stick with. If you’ve always wanted to learn the violin, don’t get a guitar because it’s less expensive or easier to pick up.

        What if you can’t afford an instrument? Sing. Learning to control your voice is every bit as challenging as making a set of keys or strings sound good.

        9. Meditating

        Not all cognitive exercises are loud, in-your-face activities. Some of the most fun mental workouts, in fact, are quiet, solo activities. Meditating can help you focus, especially if you have pre-existing attention issues.

        Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never meditated before. It’s easy:

        • Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
        • Set a timer for 10 minutes, or for however long you have to meditate.
        • Close your eyes or turn off the lights.
        • Focus on your breathing. Do not try to control it.
        • If your thoughts wander, gently bring them back to your breath.
        • When the timer goes off, wiggle your fingers and toes for a minute. Slowly bring yourself back to reality. Remember the sense of serenity you found.

        10. Deep Conversation

        There’s nothing more mentally stimulating than a good, long conversation. The key is depth: surface-level chatter doesn’t get the mind’s wheels spinning like a thoughtful, authentic conversation. This type of conversation helps in training your brain to think more deeply and reflect.

        Advertising

        Choose your partner carefully. You’re looking for someone who’ll challenge your ideas without being confrontational. Stress isn’t good for brain health, but there’s value in coming up with creative arguments.

        11. Cooking

        When you think about it, cooking requires an impressive array of cognitive skills. Developing a cook’s intuition requires a good memory. Making sure flavors are balanced takes attention to detail. When something goes wrong in the kitchen, problem-solving skills come into play. Motor control is required to stir, flip, and whisk.

        If you’re going to cook, you might as well make enough for everyone. Invite them into the kitchen as well: coordinating with other chefs adds an extra layer of challenge to this fun mental workout.

        12. Mentorship

        Whether you’re the mentee or the mentor, mentorship is an incredible mental workout. Learning from someone you look up to combines the benefits of deep conversation with skill-building. Teaching someone else forces you to put yourself in their shoes, which requires empathy and problem-solving skills.

        Put yourself in both situations. Being a student makes you a better teacher, and teaching others gives you insight into how you, yourself, learn.

        Final Thoughts

        Your mind is your most important possession, and training your brain is needed to maintain its health. Don’t let it get soft.

        To keep those neurons firing at full speed, add a few fun mental workouts to your schedule. And if you’re still struggling to get your brain in gear, remember: there’s an app for that.

        More Tips for Training Your Brain

        Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

        Reference

        Read Next