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3 Effective Habits For Learning New Languages

3 Effective Habits For Learning New Languages

There are a myriad of ways to learn exciting new languages available online as well as at classroom sites close to you. There is a greater push underway today to encourage second and third language acquisition.. Being able to speak more than one language will improve communication with business transactions around the globe as well as being useful for other things too, such as making new friends, especially in non-English speaking countries. According to Katherine B. Nielson, the chief education officer at Voxy, a language-learning company based in New York City, America’s mono-lingualism had placed the United States in linguistic isolation. Although the US can be considered one of the most powerful countries around the globe due to its power and dominance, in terms of language, it is the most isolated. Nielson detailed that only 17% of the Americans speak more than one language compared to the 54% of the Europeans. Even Professor Russell A. Berman, the former president of the Modern Language Association, warned that the US can be regarded as “second language illiterates”. This will continue to progress if the nation does not act on this predictive warning. Being able to learn a new language sounds tough. For many, it is. This will require much determination and time, as well as 100% effort. However, learning will be fun if one discovers some creative ways to learn language with utmost efficiency. With that, there is just one formula and three basic habits. EXPERIENCE + STUDY + EFFORT = SUCCESS! I am sharing this to you based from what I have experienced in learning a new language myself. I speak four languages including some dialects. This is because Philippines has more than 100 dialects spoken. However, based from my experience learning German, which is considered a foreign language, these are the most important things a foreign language enthusiast must know beforehand. Here are the habits you need to cultivate: 1. EXPERIENCE the language first. This is the first step you should do before dealing the specifics of the language. a. Experience in a location where you learn the best: this can be from the comfort of home, in a classroom, or even in the country of the language origin. Considering the differences of learning, investigate what methods you should do where you learn the best. In this way, while experiencing the language, it would be easier for you to handle new information (new words, new phrases, etc.). b. Obtain the necessary materials needed for learning   For the materials preparation, here are the some suggestions which were very helpful in my process as well:

  • Audio materials
  • Written texts such as downloaded from the internet or buy a foreign language instruction book
  • Videos ( YouTube, language sites)
  • Downloaded language apps
  • Attend a foreign language class, both traditional learning and/or long distance learning

c. Emotional stability (100% of patience, determination, focus, attitude) In the case of emotional stability, you should prepare 100% of patience and determination. for you to experience fulfillment in learning new language. When I was started to learn German, I was already aware of the complexity of the language. With all the umlauts, and even their lengthy words (even reaching four separate words combined into one). What I did was I just watched first some German videos from YouTube, and downloaded some basic phrases. I started memorizing all of them. Aside from this, I listened carefully to how Germans talk and pronounce these words. It will be a plus if you have a fluent speaker or a native German-speaker with you guiding all throughout this language acquisition journey. According to Lucas Kern, founder of Leicht-Deutsch-Lernen.com, “Learning a new language is more than learning grammar rules by heart. You need to comprehend what you are reading or listening to and you also need to get familiar withe the pronunciation. There’s a lot to be done!” He added, “If you don’t like grammar, then don’t focus too much on it. It would only frustrate and discourage you.” In learning, you should have some chances or opportunities to practice it.  The more you practice, more chances of retaining the memorized phrases and words just learned. Anthony Metivier, a memorization expert holding a BA and  an MA in English Literature, an MA in Media & Communications, and a Ph.D. in Humanities, narrated to ‘treat language as something you love and not HATE’. As new language learners, you should drop the word hate in learning. Part of experiencing the language, the very basic thing you should do is to set realistic goals that you can achieve in a realistic way and time. d. Have many practice drills Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice On its negative side: In contrast, the experience phase of learning language will necessitate much patience and a great quantity of material to memorize. When learning, the very first step to do and the most basic thing is to MEMORIZE everything! When we say memorize, just focus first on the most commonly used phrases. This can be searched online. Download the file and start memorizing. Doing this will take you much determination and focus to be successful. Patience is also a key here. It took me several months to catch up German common phrases. So, in learning a new language, it will be the best weapon to have is focus. 2. STUDY grammar and familiarize vocabulary by heart. This is the second phase you need to undertake and can be considered as the toughest. Studying a new language will include VOCABULARY and GRAMMAR. As Metivier stated on smartlanguagelearner.com, grammar can have limitation to its usage if you lack vocabulary. There is a direct relationship of learning grammar of the language with learning the vocabulary. “You simply can’t traction with grammar until you have a large pool of words that you understand upon sight. Think of grammar as the engine that requires the fuel of vocabulary in order to run the car of your mind and the headlights of your mouth so that you can drive the highway of language.” Metivier said. After several months of familiarizing words, I watched some videos talking about the German grammar. With the materials downloaded which contains the basic grammar to the language, I started studying it. Of course, the start was so hard. I even need the help from an online German dictionary myself. On the negative side: While learning grammar, it cannot be done properly no matter how much you try if you don’t have the HEART of learning the language. That constitutes the familiarization of the words first. Hence, you need a foreign language dictionary (printed or online) to achieve this phase. Apart from that, a lot of techniques are suggested by experts, but take note that not everything listed may be your best fit. Create strategies that is really applicable to yourself. As what Kern told new German language learners, through experiencing the language, plus with the help of the dictionary plus your dedication, it will help you more to be a fluent speaker of the language. It took me several months of studying German and experiencing it more at the same time (the higher level). Again, it would be a plus if you have a German language proficient or a German native speaker with you to help you out. 3. EFFORT should be 100% to achieve desired goal  to successfully learn a new language Experience the language first through seeing a lot of videos on YouTube or language sites, reading materials both printed and online, familiarizing yourself to many words and phrases. Ethan Zinho, a member of Real Life English Team, a group who is dedicated to helping people learn English through integrating real-life experiences, compared learning styles done to the mother tongue to the complexity of learning English, which is complicated by its many rules and slang. He said that even when learning the mother tongue, it took some years to master it from writing ABCs, until achieving the most complex skills. This is same with acquiring understanding and mastery with the new language. It will take time to learn. Thus, represents effort. Remember, that you cannot get something worthy if you don’t put much effort to it. Based from what I have experienced, it took me longer time to understand this concept. But, if you try to make some creative but effective strategies which you know you can easily manage learning that particular language, it will be. As long as you practice it over and over again. Repetition of usage has always been the most important tool in mastering the language. On the negative side:  This oftentimes create frustrations. A lot of new language learners give up because there is so much of work and effort in order to have such fluency in the language. “Listen and repeat over and over again to audio recordings by native speakers.” Cornelius C. Kubler said. Kubler is a Professor of Asian Studies at the William College, a former Chinese Language Training Supervisor, and the Chair of the Department of Asian and African Languages at the Foreign Service Institute. He is also an author of several Chinese language textbooks. With all of this being presented, second, third and even fourth language acquisition can be deeply satisfying and an asset to you in your life and your career. With so many great options available today, whether at a local college or through online sources, there is no reason you couldn’t give it a try yourself. Remember that success cannot be possible without giving 100% to it. Try it and enjoy your new skill!

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Featured photo credit: Johan Klovsjö via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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