Some people are raised in bilingual families and many more start learning a second language in their childhood. Starting a new language later in life is much easier in this case. You know how to start, where to look for resources, and you don’t fully depend on your language instructor. But what if you have been a monolingual most of your life and finally decide to learn a foreign language? Where do you start?
Language Learning Tips for Absolute Beginners | How to Learn a Language
Helinika helps hundreds of people across the globe learn Greek, which is one of the most difficult European languages. By following our strategy, you can learn any foreign language. Allow me to present to you Helinika’s effective language learning tips.
- Define your Learning Goals.
- Create a Realistic Language Learning Schedule.
- Find a Language Instructor.
- Get the Right Language Textbooks.
- Download a Language Learning App.
- Get in Touch with a Native Speaker.
- Practice the Language Immersion Technique.
- Find Ways to Motivate Yourself.
Define Your Learning Goals
Not everyone studies a foreign language for the same reasons. A person who is moving to a foreign country and does not speak the local language will prioritize their study sessions much higher than someone who simply learns a new language as a hobby. By defining your language learning goals you can then plan your lessons and study sessions more efficiently. It is also important to clarify whether you need to obtain a language certificate and understand how and when you can register for your first exam.
Create a Realistic Language Learning Schedule
To become proficient in a language, you need to practice multiple times per week. It is estimated that you need between 480 and 720 hours of studying to reach basic fluency, something that you should keep in mind if you have a specific deadline (e.g. a proficiency exam, a move to a foreign country etc.). However, not all hours spent studying are equal. If you go to a classroom right after a 10-hour work shift, while you are sleep-deprived or stressed-out due to personal reasons, your brain might refuse to cooperate. Moreover, new findings suggest that most people can’t focus on learning a new language for hours at a time. The optimum time is estimated to be 30 minutes, which might come as a surprise for many people. If you find it hard focusing in a classroom after an hour, then you should consider studying for thirty minutes six days per week, instead of three hours straight once per week.
Find a Language Instructor
Polyglots have participated in so many language learning classes that they know the method of learning a new language by heart. However, if you only speak one or two languages, finding a language instructor is essential. This person will guide you through this whole process, assign you exercises, answer your questions, test your abilities, offer feedback, and, hopefully, provide you with resources and study materials. You can either register in a course in your local language school or in a University program and attend classes with many other students. Or you can find a private tutor in your neighborhood or online and schedule one-on-one meetings. Another option, which is gaining popularity, is finding an on-demand tutor in a platform such as Udemy or Teachable and watch their pre-recorded lessons. Each option has its own pros and cons. For example, joining a class will motivate you by seeing the progress of other people, however, it is less flexible and more time-consuming. A private tutor can create personalized lessons based on your needs, however, these classes can be very costly. Finally, the on-demand classes are extremely flexible and affordable, however, some students might feel less motivated to attend the classes, since no one is watching them. There is no right or wrong answer as to what type of instructor you should find. It all depends on your own personal needs.
Get the Right Language Learning Textbooks
Some language instructors offer free books and resources for their students. Others recommend some affordable materials that gather all the grammatical rules, important words and phrases, texts, and exercises that you need to progress. A textbook focusing on Grammar and another focusing on Vocabulary based on your level (A1-A2 Beginner, B1-B2 Intermediate, C1-C2 Advanced/Proficient) are essential. For example, Helinika has not only gathered the best Greek language textbooks for English speakers, but also provides some additional free resources multiple times per week.
Download a Language Learning App
If you own a smartphone, it is highly recommended to download a language learning application, such as Duolingo, Mondly, Babbel etc., and spend some productive time on your phone. Next time you are stuck in a bus, at the airport, or at waiting room, you can practice your target language instead of scrolling aimlessly on Instagram.
Get in Touch with a Native Speaker
If you already live in a country where they speak your target language, finding native speakers is an easy task. However, if you do not know anyone who speaks this language, you can always join a tandem group in your local town or online. For example, Helinika recently created such a group for people who want to learn how to speak Greek. By communicating with a native speaker, you can boost your speaking and listening skills. You can also notice how people actually communicate – the contractions, the non-verbal cues, and the slang terms they use.
Practice the Language Immersion Technique
Studying a foreign language can get boring sometimes. Especially when you need to understand all the new grammatical rules and memorize the vocabulary. However, learning can also be fun. Once you have reached an intermediate level, it is recommended to get out of your comfort zone and immerse yourself in the target language. Read a book, watch a movie with or without subtitles, and, finally, join a class or start a hobby that is held in your target language but is not a language learning class. For example, cook something but follow the instructions in the target language. This way, you will challenge yourself, you will expand your vocabulary in no-time, and you will practice without actually studying the “traditional way”.
Find Ways to Motivate Yourself
Many people start learning a new language, they get super excited, but once they get on the advanced level and things start getting harder and harder, they lose their motivation and quit. Whatever the language you start learning is, it is important to find ways to motive yourself and keep making progress. Remind yourself why you started learning this language in the first place; how much time, money, and energy you have invested, and what a pity it would be to quit few levels before becoming a fluent speaker. If you feel overwhelmed, you can always take a break from learning for a while. But keep in mind that you should avoid abstaining from studying a language for months or years, because you might have to cover the things you already learned once you are back on track.
How to Learn Greek with Helinika | Learn Greek Online
In case you are new here, Helinika is an e-learning platform that offers a complete video course for learning Greek on Udemy, along with countless free resources that can help you practice the Greek language. The first aims at building a strong foundation that covers all the basics – from the pronunciation and the letter combinations to important grammatical rules- and the second aims at helping you progress and reach your goals faster. If you are interested in learning Greek, you can claim your Udemy discount by Helinika, and, if you are interested in complementary free resources, subscribe to Helinika’s YouTube channel!
Important Announcement: A New and Improved Helinika is Coming!
Helinika has been uploading Daily Greek Videos four times a week, plus an extra video on Greek mythology, Greece, philosophy, and any other relevant topic every Friday. I am very happy to announce that, once you “graduate” from your daily Greek routine, a new series of videos will start and a new schedule will be applied as well.
Eventually, Mondays will be dedicated on Language Immersion videos that will act as listening exercises. These will be perfect for everyone who has watched all of Helinika’s videos so far and/or registered in the Udemy courses. Wednesdays will be dedicated on travel advice, facts about Greece, and being an expat, while Fridays will dedicated on Greek mythology/ drama/ philosophy and anything related to the history of Greece. Many of you are following Helinika for the Greek language videos, others for the ancient Greek storytimes, and others for the travel/expat tips. Once the daily Greek series is completed, you will all be able to watch your favorite kind of videos every week!
How excited are you for the new series? Feel free to comment any article/video recommendations you might have!