Your language learning strategies are a key factor if you are interested in taking your language learning to the next level. Many people don’t realise this. The result is that maybe they get stuck at a level for too long; their progress seems to be too slow; learning languages seems too much like hard work for little gain or fun. Read on and find out how to improve your results AND your enjoyment!
Many learners blame themselves for the fact they aren’t learning well/easily/quickly etc. You may well be one of these people. If you are, do not blame yourself as you are only doing what you were told to do. Either in your schooling or later on, you were told, by way of instruction and example, how to learn languages so you have been following what you were told. What can be wrong with that? The problem is that if what you were told was flawed or ineffective, then you are going to wear the repercussions. It is important to understand that just because up to now your learning hasn’t been going the way you wanted does not mean you are stuck with that for all time! And the fact that you are reading this, of course, suggests that you do realize that.
If you agree with me – great! If you don’t, before you bring up all the reasons why what I am saying is not right, why not for a few minutes entertain the idea “what if he is right … what if it is possible to change my ability to learn languages?” By simply opening up yourself to another mindset, you have opened a door to an area that up until now may have been closed for you.
It’s completely understandable that many people have such a strong belief about their language learning capacity. If all your experiences keep reaffirming a belief that you are not good at learning languages, then that belief becomes more and more solid. Unfortunately, the language teaching that many people have experienced has produced the kind of results that lead people to think these thoughts. If you want to blame something, my suggestion is to blame the language learning experiences you have had. Our experiences are what build our belief. A lot of us end up looking for experiences that confirm that belief so after a while our beliefs can become unshakeable no matter what our experiences tell us…no matter what someone might tell us.
One way of impacting our beliefs is through broadening and deepening our understanding. By doing this, a seed for a revised or new belief may well be planted in our mind. Then our experiences are looked at in a whole different light, which in turn is instrumental in our redefining our beliefs.
An area which has enormous value in helping to understand and appreciate our powers as learners are looking at how infants learn, especially their first language. I am not going to say much here about the incredible learning powers we all demonstrated in learning our first language – I will leave that for a later time. Once we understand how powerful we were as infants learning our first language, we will be wondering why as adults do so many people have such difficulty learning their second or a subsequent language.
Of course, there are many people who learn a second language relatively easily so we may label them as having aptitude or talent, thus confirming for us that we don’t. But the reality is that they have learned to do something we yet have not, in the same way as some people can ride bikes and others can’t or some people can draw well and others can’t. The difference between the two groups is what one group have learned, the others haven’t. And I am not talking here about the actual skill of speaking another language or drawing. I am talking about the skill which enables us to learn something…call it an aptitude.
There are many elements to improving your language learning strategies, whether it be
- your beliefs that need recalibrating
- your goals that need redefining
- your approach to learning vocabulary that needs attention
- your motivation that needs looking at
- your conversational skills that need some work
- your pronunciation learning that needs a makeover
- your perceptive skills that need to be sensitised
- your awarenesses that needs deepening
- your enjoyment needs to be enhanced
or any other strategies or approaches you will find on this site
Whatever the case, the language learning strategies you use, consciously or unconsciously will be critical in determining your chances of success.