Tips on Learning a New Language

For years, I’ve thought about picking up Spanish as my third language. And for years, it’s been merely a thought. I finally took action this year and committed 30 minutes a night practicing with online apps. Although I acquired new skills after two weeks, I felt I needed more structure than what the apps offer, so I signed up for a basic course at a local college.

So far I’ve only completed the first week of class, but I already notice that for me to learn as much and as fast as I want to, it’s going to take the class plus independent study outside of class. I’m lucky that the instructor incorporates different modes of learning (visual, rhythmic, group learning, individual learning, etc.), because it helped me realize the importance of learning through my strength. Because this is a non-credit course, there are no tests nor homework. It’s up to me to decide how I want to progress.

For “homework,” I’m given a few tips on how to practice at home, all of it comes down to one theme: to expose myself to Spanish as much as I can, whether it’s listening to the radio, checking out Spanish children’s books, or reading a newspaper clip. I’m reminded that language learning is an ongoing endeavor. Just like how I learned English and Chinese, I have to live it to excel. This bring me back to my tips on things you can do to keep up with your language skills. They are applicable in the case of learning a new language as well. The goal is basically to get as much exposure to it as possible.

Here are some more tips for learning a new language.

Figure out what type of learner you are. Are you a visual, mathematics, spacial, outdoorsy,  rhythmic, solo or group learner? Knowing this will help you best approach the language in a way that helps you absorb it better. I’m an interactive learner, that’s why online gamification and interactive language learning apps work for me. I’m also a visual and audio learner, so watching Spanish language movies with English subtitles helps me connect the two languages. Think about your hobbies and ways you can incorporate your new language. This should be fun, not work.

Expose yourself. Find anyway to expose yourself to the target language and culture. The more you hear it, see it, and surround yourself with it, the more familiar you are with the way it sounds and feels.

Be persistent. Be patient. Learning a language does not happen overnight. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to download language apps into our brains like they do in the Matrix. You need to be persistent and keep at it. Even after you think you’ve mastered it, you still need to take steps to keep up with it. There is no end!

Practice, practice, practice. You know the drill.

What are your tips for picking up a new language?

Good luck and happy learning!


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