Learning a new language is an exciting journey and one that many people find immensely rewarding. We all have different motivations and aspirations for our language learning but whether you are learning French for travel, Spanish for business, Urdu for love or Mandarin for the sheer challenge of it, here are some hints and tips to help you get on board, stay afloat and make your learning plain sailing.
Language study tools to boost your learning
This guide shows you the best way to approach learning a new language. It gives you hints, tips and tricks to get motivated, organised and enjoy your progress in your new language
Before you start
Before you even start learning a new language you should be clear about your reasons for study, time available and set some realistic goals for yourself.
• Try to find out what sort of learner you are and how you like to learn. You can use the learning style questionnaire in the resource box below.
• Why are you learning a language and what are your learning goals? How quickly do you hope to achieve them? Are you trying to blitz your learning by attending a summer school in England, or are you relying on a couple of Spanish friends to practise with?
• How much time do you have available for learning and practising your language?
• What support do you have available and what resources do you have to hand?
• What do you need to keep you motivated?
Having thought about the where, what, when, who and why of your language learning it can be useful to draw all this together into a Needs Analysis and a resultant Action Plan. You can find templates for these in ULC’s very handy resource file listed below.
All of this helps you identify what you need and think about how you are going to be able to get it. Referring back to this and keeping an activity log as you learn helps keep you motivated as you start your learning.
Now you are off make sure you are setting yourself achievable, specific goals that are measurable and can be ticked off with a satisfied smile as you achieve them. Always get feedback from friends, teachers and language speakers you encounter. Here are some ideas to help you develop specific skills.
• Listen to whatever you can find in your target language and read whatever you can lay your hands on. Radio shows, TV shows, films, audiobooks, conversation partners all offer great listening. Newspapers, websites, menus, emails from others all offer great reading.
• Don’t forget to be active – you need to be speaking and writing too. If you are going to an English school in England, get out there and chat to the locals! Always speak to your language school class mates in your target language and try and find a conversation buddy you can practice speaking with one-on-one.
• Read aloud to rehearse the correct pronunciation. Why not record yourself so you can hear how you sound?
• Use text-based internet chat to improve your conversational style and speed of response.
• Ask those you email to correct your email when they reply.
These hints and tips will help you plan, organise and kick-start your learning.
To make sure you keep it up you will find a range of resources below.
What is your primary language learning method/tool?
Learning Style Questionnaire
Find out what sort of learner you are and how to use this understanding to boost your learning.
Language Learning Resources from ULC Manchester
Lots of ready-to-use resources for planning, organising and making the most of your language learning activities.
Language learning tips
Handy hints and tips from Simon Ager, a polyglot who speaks eight languages and counting.