Although there are many positive aspects to learning a new language, there are also instances when our brains seem to be actively resisting us.
But there are tangible actions you can take to break through a learning slump and supercharge your progress.
Our top three strategies for accelerating language acquisition are as follows:
1. Sense of Urgency Must Be Established First
Which is one of the most frequent gripes about studying a foreign tongue? Time constraint.
Your brain may flat-out refuse to learn a new language after a long day of work or school, during which it was subjected to a barrage of data, for one minor reason: it doesn’t want to expend the extra energy.
Is there any way to counter this?
Take a Real Course Taught By Real People
Class of any sort. A Saturday workshop, an online course, or a face-to-face session. One’s accountability to others is essential.
Making a group commitment, especially to a class with a teacher, can add a welcome dose of accountability.
Document Your Development and Broadcast It
Is it anything you’ve considered doing to monitor your development over time?
How about posting your most recent essay, letter, or favorite quotes on Facebook or Twitter?
Twitter and various Facebook groups are home to a sizable population of language learners who may provide encouragement and feedback while you study.
Cut Off All Mental Escape Routes from Your Target Language
Start getting serious about learning by listening to music on the way to school or work, watching movies or Netflix episodes on the weekend, reading a magazine while eating breakfast, or making social media posts in your target language.
Sticky notes in your target language could be used to label household items.
In this method, you can learn new words throughout the day. The point is to convince your brain that this language is everywhere and you must use it.
2. Put Your Spin on What You’re Learning
It’s human nature to forget information that isn’t immediately relevant. Or items that don’t pique our curiosity.
Considering the amount of information our brains are inundated with daily, it’s only reasonable that most of us complain about having a weak memory and not memorizing new words, for example.
What exactly are you supposed to be doing? You’re trying to convince your brain that these foreign words are essential, relevant, and personal.
Post Your Pictures
Rather than using the corresponding English translation, for example, when making a flashcard for the word “dog” in Spanish, French, or German, an image of your pet as the face of the flashcard will help your brain remember the word more quickly.
Avoid Long Lists In Favor Of A Few Carefully Chosen Terms
Select terms that have meaning in the context of your activities, relationships, and routines rather than trying to memorize a list of random phrases.
When one first begins to study a new language, one often picks up jargon about various professions.
Start with the jobs you know the most about, including your significant others, parents, and closest friends.
If you put what you’ve learned into practice, you’ll likely retain it.
Immediately Begin a Self-Reflective Essay
Instead of using the same generic examples found in the textbook, try using the new terminology you’ve been learning to talk about and describe your feelings, ideas, and personal story.
The information presented in books is only a springboard for further study; true mastery of a language comes only through its practical and natural application in everyday life.
3. Educate Yourself on the Art of Effective Repetition
People have been known to recall verb tables from high school Spanish and English classes with remarkable accuracy.
But put these same folks in a position where they have to conjugate them, employ them in a sentence, or incorporate them into a narrative, and watch the wheels come off.
Then you’ll realize why it’s not always a good idea to repeat anything just because you can.
While there are advantages to studying over and over again, cramming isn’t the key to success. It is an excellent example of a repeated phrase.
Learn How to Use Spaced Repetition
Gabriel Wyner, a man of many languages, introduces us to the spaced repetition method in his book Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language and Never Forget It.
Rather than cramming for a few hours and then never looking at your materials again, you should spread your vocabulary repetitions over a longer time frame and with more significant pauses between each repetition.
Your brain has to be reminded of the target language just as it is about to forget it.
In four months of daily practice, you should expect to memorize and recall 3600 flashcards with 90 to 95 percent accuracy, as stated by Wyner.
The Need for Greater Visuals
You may recall that I recommended making your flashcards from photographs you already had.
The simple act of looking up a foreign word on Google Images and storing an image of it on your phone to use as a flashcard can greatly enhance memorizing, just as using your pictures to learn can.
Consider making your own set of flashcards to help you remember important information.
After some repetition, you’ll be able to recognize them far better than if you had only read the words.
Do the Same Thing Over And Over Again
Having a list of memorized verbs isn’t the same as using them effectively in conversation; our memories are stronger when we’ve used the words we’ve learned.
Talking about what you’ve learned with a teacher, a student, or a group is essential since we learn best when we receive praise from someone other than ourselves.
If you want to cement a new term in your mind, try writing it down at least ten times in different sentences.
It will help you not only remember the word but also understand how to use it.