This is why most beginners failed learn a new language
I failed to learn new language because ultimately I had the wrong mindset. Since then, I've been looking for what kind of ways can help in learning a new language, and be honest I found I just wasn't doing it right. So here are the biggest things that I've learned that will hopefully save you years of struggling and get you out of that beginner phase.
1. Talk about acquiring vocabulary
The first and one of the biggest lessons people always talk about acquiring vocabulary. Of course, if you're going to learn a new language and you don't know any of the words, you need to acquire all the new words, but being exposed to the words you already know can be more important.
Probably acquire them through rote memorization or flashcards, and think, "I have got those words, cool." But it doesn't work like that, you actually need to see the same words in loads of different contexts to acquire them. By seeing the words I already knew in material that was relatively easy for you, or you know, once you start to get exposed to it, it becomes easy, and seeing the words over and over again, you then got a feel for them.
It started to create all these links in your brain, so when you see the word in a new context, you think you would remember the flashcard on that, but unfortunately It doesn't happen when you see the word in context a lot, and this is why we need huge amounts of input that is fairly easy, you just understand it.
If you have acquired the word, there's no gap. Yes, you do need to get new vocabulary, and you need to get new words, but a huge amount of it is just seeing the same words you already know in context.
2. Spend as much time as you can with the language
Let's take the idea of learning to drive. If you spent the entire time sitting at a desk learning all the rules of the road and doing quizzes, you might understand the theory of that language but if I put you behind the wheel of a car, you would be so dangerous, it's kind of like that with learning a language, you don't learn how to drive and the rules of the road just from sitting in the classroom.
So with a language, you need to be exposed to it, you don't want someone talking to you in English about that language, but you want to get an understanding of how that language is really spoken, that is how you really start to acquire and pick up the words naturally.
For complete beginners, you do need to get going, and so some methods will be using English, that's okay, but the more time you spend in English, quite soon after you'll then find that you're talking in english about your target language, whereas we just want to be focusing on getting input from our target language.
Even if it's lots of simple input, personally, I think that's preferable as opposed to learning all the rules and how it all fits together but never able to understand native speakers when they speak to us. If we start from getting a lot of input from day one, we are accustomed to native speakers speaking all the time, be it through whatever audio or video material that we've been using, and then consequently we understand people much better when they speak to us. So, it's not about how hard you can go in a foreign language.
I would have periods where I think I'm going to absolutely smash this and just go for it, I've been failing for years or however long you've been going for, but It doesn't work like that. You might have brief periods where you have a bit more intensity, but by and large, what really moves the needle, as people say is just sticking with it, just being consistent. The way that you succeed isn't through these big grand gestures.
The thing that really gets you going is just sticking with it, finding things that you enjoy, and just doing it every day. It doesn't sound as grand and fancy, but that is what's going to help you get to fluency, also on the same idea, burnout is same thing, If what you're doing isn't sustainable, then you're not going to last.
We know it takes hundreds of hours to get to something like fluency, if you aren't sticking with it long enough because you've burnt yourself out by going too intense, you're never going to get to that fluent stage.
So, we need to think about how can we make this sustainable, how can we do it every day. It doesn't have to be huge amounts, if you can do even just some level of listening every day at an appropriate level for you so you're understanding what you're listening, even if there are some new words, that is the sort of thing that's going to get you to fluency. Keep it easy, stay consistent, keep going, that's the key
3. Spending time in your target language
We shouldn't spend all of our time planning to do something, we should just be spending time in our target language. I've seen a lot of people with very pretty study plans that are often colored in and beautiful but I often think, "Could that time be spent actually just getting some input from the target language?" I know that I just need to find some material I enjoy and get as much input as I can of that in a day, and I'll do the same the next day and the next day.
Personally, the more time I think about planning to get some input, I'm not getting some input. I don't think it's super difficult just to find anything that's about your level, hopefully you enjoy it. Obviously, if you're really bored, then make sure it's something really compelling but there should be something that you can do quite quickly just to get some input. The more time you spend thinking about studying, thinking about learning a foreign language, the more time you're not focused on actually getting input from that foreign language.
We often like to do things that feel productive but don't actually move the needle, as people say, and it's the same with language learning. We want to just be focusing on the stuff that is going to help us acquire that target language, not think about acquiring it or talking to other people about acquiring it.
4. Being okay with the unknown
Uncertainty in language learning is okay, you have to accept a certain amount of ambiguity, provided you're getting enough of the legit, and then just keep moving forward. A problem I had with my language, which is one of the reasons I was so bad at it in the beginning, I got stuck in that beginner phase where I thought I had to master this beginner textbook. I thought I had to know everything in there or most of everything in there to be past that phase before I could move on, I then got stuck in one beginner textbook or another beginner textbook, and I never really got out of first gear.
Actually, just keep moving forward, get the gist of what's happening in whatever material you're using, and keep going forward because your brain will figure out the language if you give it enough input. Certainly for beginners, it doesn't really matter, you won't understand necessarily everything. If you're getting the gist of a story, keep moving forward, get some more content you enjoy, get the gist of that, keep going forward.
The words that you didn't pick up there, you'll see over again. It is the same language, those words and phrases will come up again and again, you'll get a natural feeling for them as you keep moving forward in the language but be okay with that uncertainty.
Something that's totally changed is my view on how to learn languages and also what I expect to get in return. Firstly consistency, as I keep saying, you just need to do something every day. My expectation before was I've bought book or resource, whatever it is online, or something, and I'll do a bit of that, I'll dabble in that, I'll do it for a bit, and hopefully, I'll pick up a language.
You can dabble, and that's fine if you want to just get a sense of the language and just have fun. That's not a problem but in terms of making significant progress in a language, you're not really going to get a long way if you just dip in and out.
Anyone who's got a significant level of experience is going to say you just have to commit to it, and you have to commit to it knowing that it's going to be a long-term thing, it's not something you can do a short.
Another way that my expectations have changed is before I thought that there'd be a destination, there would be some sort of end point that we go, maybe I could learn more vocabulary in certain areas, but I'm fluent.
The more I learn about learning languages, you never feel like you have got to a place, you just know more about the language and know there is more to know about the language and of all the areas where you're lacking in knowledge, that makes me realize even more you have to enjoy the journey.
If you're thinking, you going to get to this final place, and then when you get there, you going to feel incredible, I'll be honest you won't. There are times where you go you understand everything that's going on, that does happen and those are nice moments, but you never feel like you're finished, and because of that you might as well make sure that the journey to get to as far along as you can, however far you want to get, that's an enjoyable process.