Learning a second language for most people does not come naturally. You have to put in quite a lot of work but even with all the work in the world, if you are doing something the wrong way and persist in doing it that way, the results may well not be forthcoming. On top of the general difficulties faced by learners of a second language the fact is that every language has its own particular characteristics and nuances that present difficulties for people who wish to learn it. Throughout this website you will see many proven ideas as to how to improve your language learning. Here are a few keys below. There are other ones though you can find from the search terms on the right that may relate more to the reasons why you, in particular, may be having difficulties. Possibly the most important key is your mind set. There are many aspects to this, including whether
- your beliefs are helping you move forward or whether they are sabotaging you.
- you have or develop goals that you help you move past the difficulties that are sure to come your way
- you have an open mind to others and their cultures and wish to learn from them
- you like talking to people or whether you shy away from them
- you fear mistakes or whether you embrace them
- your beliefs about how to learn languages, in particular, are holding you back. There are a number of posts on this site that will present alternatives about how to best learn. Check out the ones on grammar, vocabulary and keep reading about some other issues below.
One of the critical elements in learning to speak a language are your listening abilities. This is not talked about often enough nor looked at carefully enough. Once you improve your listening, your language learning will improve as you will hear more. Listening sits at the heart of learning a new language, so one cannot overstress its importance. There are many aspects to listening: listening for meaning; listening for grammar; listening for intonation; listening for hidden meanings, etc etc. One of the most important items in the list of listenings is listening to yourself as a learner.
The following video is a good example which shows the power of what is possible when listening to yourself is emphasised. It’s only a titbit but actually it’s a nugget that can offer many insights as to what you need to do to improve your language learning. Language Learning Unlocked goes into a lot more detail about all this and much more.
In this second clip, I show how it is possible to apply the same principles in helping this learner improve her pronunciation at the phrase level. Once a learner starts to improve their listening abilities then they can start to take control of their own improvement. For the discerning viewer it is possible to see that this process has already begun.
Click for information on how to learn English. On these pages we will be bringing you some of these nuances and particular difficulties. Keep in mind that that, for example, Vietnamese learners of English face different particular challenges to people coming from say Italy. So when you look at what we bring out here, keep in mind that even though you may not find it a particular difficulty, other people coming from a different language group may well find just that. But from each example if you look carefully you will see ways as to how to improve your language learning.