Learning a foreign language is anything but easy — by definition, you are doing something foreign and outside your comfort zone. “Language learning tricks” to boost your progress are advertised all the time, and I’m sure you’ve heard many of them before.
Listen to the foreign language while you sleep, or as low volume background noise at work.
Commit x number of words to memory each day.
Participate in an immersion experience.
Read books in the target language.
Catch the drift?
Don’t get me wrong: these are all awesome tips, and they will enhance your language learning experience. But they can only work their magic when you have already embraced the most important — and most underrated — language learning tricks: consistency and routine.
As elementary as they may sound, these tried and true strategies are by far the two most powerful language learning “tricks” to take note of. To become proficient in a foreign language, your brain requires consistent exposure to that language through listening, reading, and speaking. It’s important to understand that each time you sit down for a study session, you are not merely adding on pieces of knowledge, but also expanding upon and solidifying your previously gained skills.
Learning a foreign language requires consistent, repetitive upkeep and nourishment.
Establishing a routine that fits into your daily life is the most effective way to maximize language learning. Your personalized routine can take on any number of forms based on your work schedule and daily obligations. It’s all about figuring out what works best for you. That might just be dedicating the time it takes you each morning to drink your first cup of coffee to language study, or spending your subway commute flipping through a set of flashcards. It could be spending 15 minutes of your lunch break reading in the target language, or 30 minutes engaging with study materials before you go to sleep at night.
If you want to see results, you’ll need to fully commit to consistency and routine in your language learning regimen. Test out different times of day to determine the best routine for you, and then commit to it. At the start of each week, write down when and how you will spend time with your target language, block off that small chunk of time on your daily calendar or set reminders on your phone, and then (the biggest challenge!) stay on top of your routine.
You know yourself best, so be realistic about the expectations you’re setting. If you know you’re less likely to follow through in the evenings, for instance, make language review a part of your morning routine. Set yourself up for success, and don’t be afraid to switch things up until you find the best fit.
No matter what your personal strategy ends up looking like on a day-to-day basis, it’s crucial that you deliberately incorporate consistency and routine — the most important and powerful language learning tricks — into your study regimen. Doing so will help you not only gain, but maintain skills as you charge ahead in learning another language.