So, it’s the new year, and here you are making the same resolution you made the last two years: Learn a new language.
We get it; any resolution is tough to stick to (in fact, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February), and learning a language is a particularly ambitious one. And, for good reason. Speaking another language has a crazy amount of benefits, well beyond being able to impress your friends at the dinner table.
Speaking another language makes you better at multitasking, improves your memory, opens up more job opportunities, and makes travel a totally different experience. A recent study found it can even delay dementia, and keeps your brain healthy into your senior years.
To help, we put together 5 tips to help you #GetFluent this year – whether that means learning for love, travel, work, or just for fun. We got you.
1. Set smaller goals
When your goal is simply to “learn Spanish” by the end of the year, you’re not doing yourself any favors. By breaking it down into bite-sized, actionable, time-specific milestones, it’ll be less daunting and frankly, more realistic.
Some people call these SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Bound). Daily and Weekly goals are a great place to start. Remember, being truly fluent can take years; think about how you’re going to use language when you make your goals (speaking to your in-laws? conversing with locals on your next trip?).
Here’s some examples of SMART goals to get you started:
- Read a short-story in Spanish by the end of the month
- Learn 5 new French words a week, and practice using them in sentences
- Speak to someone in German for 10 minutes a day
2. Watch & Listen
There’s so many options at our fingertips these days to help with our language learning goals. Countless podcasts, Youtube videos, foreign films on Netflix (sans subtitles), news articles in any and every language of your choice.
Why not throw on a language podcast while you’re cleaning the house, walking the dog, commuting to work, etc. Listening will help you learn proper pronunciation and new vocabulary.
Same goes for your next Netflix-binge of your favorite show in your chosen language (hola Narcos!). Go subtitle-free and see how you fare.
3. Have fun with it
Learning anything new can come with certain frustrations or stresses. Especially on those days when you just don’t feel like you’re getting it.
It mind sound corny, but take a moment to remember why you’re learning, and to have some fun! After all, you’re doing something good for you.
Another reason we often fail at our goals is out of fear; fear of not getting it perfectly right. Try to shake off that attitude, and be okay with where you’re at right now. Order your food in the language you’re learning at an authentic spot in your city, practice with family and friends, book that trip and speak with locals even if you don’t feel like you’re totally ready yet.
4. Tell people
Sharing your goals with people in your inner circle will dramatically increase your chance of actually accomplishing them. Why? Accountability and support. You might feel more vulnerable telling people that you’re learning a language, out of fear of failure. But it’s a lot easier for most of us to break a promise to ourselves if no one knows about it. Consider enlisting an accountability buddy – someone who checks in with you as regularly as you like, to support you and keep you on track.
While you’re at it, why not find a friend who wants to learn a new language with you? (We happen to have an offer that gives you and your friend $50 towards your language classes when you refer them. *wink wink, nudge nudge)
5. Find your style
It’s important to know yourself, and be honest with yourself about your learning style. You might want to be a social learner and kill it in front of a group of peers in-person, but in reality you’re actually at your best from the comfort of your on home, learning online.
Determining the best learning method for you is a great place to start. Then, you can move on to 1 through 4.