I’ve been learning languages for all my life. However, my self-study started six years ago. My first self-study language was Spanish. For that moment I was last year student of a pedagogical university. We had a French teacher, who was a polyglot and she told us a lot about the Spanish language. I was passionate about her stories and I loved the sound of Spanish words. So, I decided to try learning Spanish by myself and without spending money. I found some books on the internet and after several months I figured out that it’s not that difficult as I thought. From that, I learn languages by myself and that’s super fun !
There are a lot of reasons why it is good for me – I have the total freedom, I can choose those materials that I want and that are interesting for me. I can choose time, planning and methods that are good me.
So, here are my advice for successful self-study.
The first one is, of course, your motivation. You can’t start something without knowing why you do that. My motivation for learning Spanish was to open the mind, to know more about other cultures and people, and finally to challenge myself. I succeeded and I am proud.
Once you have your motivation, you should establish your goals. “I want to speak Japanese” is not a goal. It has to be more concrete. For example, “in three months I want to achieve the A2 level and have a simple conversation with a native speaker”.
Make your language learning a habit.
That’s also important. It should be regular and often. At the beginning, you can write down that in your agenda. In Google agenda, there is an option “Objective” where you can add your objective to learn a language, for example, and its frequency. If you can study 15 minutes every day, that’s great!
Planning and notebooks
You can also create your language learning agenda and write down there your schedule and lessons planning.
For every language that I learn, I have a notebook. There, I write the basics such as pronounces, conjugation, question words, all those basic rules I want to keep in my head.
Choose your course
Self-study gives you so many options to choose a course that is good for you. It can be either a free language platform like Duolingo, Memrise or a course book. Don’t try to choose something one. I always combine different courses because in this way I get more sources and more information.
Don’t overlook supplementary tools, like movies, songs, podcasts, short video, comics and books. Find something that you passionate about. There are also different internet communities where you can find study friends or native speakers who will help you to work on your language. Often, when we study alone, we can’t actually practise speaking. That’s why it would be great to have someone who you can talk to. Nevertheless, you can talk to yourself, record your voice or make a short video with your speaking and upload them to your blog, for example, or Snapchat, or Instagram. I guess you understand, practising your speaking is important.
By the way, speaking about the social media. Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook can be one of the sources to learn languages. All you have to do is to subscribe to language learning pages and to have new words every day. Instagram and Pinterest work great as flash cards and I love sometimes use them.
Let it enter in your life
Let your new language enter in your daily life. Watch your favourite sitcoms, listen to your favourite songs in a target language. Let it be a part of your life. I like learning by heart the songs that I enjoy and sing them, that is super fun and it allows me to learn new words.
Revisions and challenges
Do weekly revisions. Challenge yourself. Write sentences or short texts with words from your vocabulary list.
Don’t forget to take pauses every few months. If you feel like you’re tired or you don’t feel like learning today, just take a pause. Our brain needs to have a rest sometimes. You will see that later it will be easy to continue with refreshed mind.
I hope that these advice will help you to learn languages productively and efficiently. Self-study is not that difficult as many people consider.