As I'm writing this entry, several places around the world have entered voluntary, or involuntary lock-down in order to prevent the spreading of the Coronavirus, COVID-19.
But, why not take advantage of these circumstances to add a new language to your resume this year?
After all, a quarantined environment is perfect for language learning!
In this post I'm sharing my top 5 top tips for learning a new language, for anyone who might be new to this great process!
My name is Kris Broholm, in case you don't know me, and I've interviewed over 150 of the world's top language learners and industry professionals on my podcast: Actual Fluency since 2014.
Top 5 tips for learning a foreign language in 2020, during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Tip 1: Focus on the spoken language first (unless you're learning the language exclusively to read, in which case, focus on reading!)
This means learning the words and phrases that you're bound to need in your first conversations in the language.
Examples of this are:
- Introducing yourself
- Telling people what you do for a living
- Telling people you're learning [language] because you're quarantined due to the virus outbreak!
By learning high-frequency words and phrases first you build the language from the bottom up, instead of learning 15 different names of animals (that don't even live in your country…)
Tip 2: Don't expect to master the language in 3 months, but don't be surprised if you make tremendous progress either!
A healthy balance of expectations is always nice to have in language learning. No, you won't be reading native-level books in a few months, but you might be able to have hour long conversations about familiar topics – and that's pretty cool!
Plus, language learned never really disappears, so you've developed a skill for life.
(Granted it does need a bit of a refresher once in a while, but just like riding a bike once the rust is off you'll be speaking as well as ever in no time.)
Tip 3: Try to schedule your language learning sessions consistently from day to day, and make sure you don't try and do too much initially!
There is a huge temptation to try and study languages for hours and hours in the beginning, especially when you are isolated and or quarantined.
In my experience this only leads to burnout, where you just give up completely a few weeks in.
An hour or two a day is amazing, especially if broken into smaller pieces during the day.
Tip 4: Book lessons online with virtual teachers (no hand sanitiser required!) My favourite website for this is italki.com where you can book lessons with native speakers for less than $10/hr for most languages.
This is the secret sauce to rapid language learning progress.
NOTHING beats 1-on-1 tutoring for language improvement. You can practice your phrases and words, get feedback on your pronunciation, and correct mistakes you're making.
Tip 5: Have fun!
Learning a new language is a fun and rewarding hobby, when done correct. I highly recommend sticking to methods and formats that you thoroughly enjoy.
It might not be the best situation ever being locked up at home for most of the time, but I'm sure languages can help brighten your day!
For example: Many people believe you need to begin to read native-level books to learn a language.
This is just nonsense, and especially dumb when the person in question doesn't read in his or her native language either!
If you love to watch movies, find movies in your target language.
If you love to listen to music, find music in your target language.
This journey of a new language is truly amazing, and it will open doors and opportunities you never knew were possible.