Tips for Teaching Yourself a Foreign Language

Teaching yourself (or self-studying) is a long and arduous process–but one that yields amazing results.

Learning a foreign language is hard. Teaching yourself that foreign language is even harder. Now, Canyon Vista does have foreign language classes, but if you’re interested in another language or simply don’t have access to LOTE classes, self-studying is the way to go. So, how should you get started with a foreign language?

1. Select the language, and assess what it needs.

The world is full of different languages–which one should you learn? Popular languages that use the Roman alphabet, like Spanish, German, or French are easy to learn because of an abundance of resources. Frankly, you could probably teach yourself a considerable amount of these languages with only Duolingo. Other languages that may have other alphabets but do have a lot of resources, like Japanese, Chinese, or Korean might take a little more digging to find a system that works for you. If you’re planning to teach yourself another language with an alphabet, make sure to learn that before you start your studies.

2. Gather resources.

You should never rely on just one place for your studies–whether that’s an app, website, or show. By getting your information from at least two outlets, you’re guaranteeing a diverse range of knowledge and two different learning styles. Maybe pick an app to learn helpful conversational phrases, and another to learn grammar structures.

3. Immersion.

It’s impossible to learn a language just from words on a screen. The best way to learn is to travel where people speak it, but this is often not an option. Instead, maybe try watching a show, listening to music, or watching YouTube videos in another language. As your studies progress, seeking out a native speaker with whom to converse is ideal. One of the only ways to learn natural conversation flow and colloquialisms is through a native speaker.

4. Stay on track.

Learning a language is not something you can learn in a few weeks of diligent practice. Getting to a conversational level could take months or even years. True fluency will take even longer. However, if you find a way to motivate yourself and imagine it like a subject to learn rather than a hobby to pick up and drop, the results will be astounding. One thing that’s good to maintain motivation is looking back. If you’ve been studying for a month or two, look back at the first few weeks of your studies. Seeing how far you’ve come is a great way to push yourself to go farther. Always remember that in the end, this is something you do for yourself, so the only way to keep going is you.