You pick a language and you get excited and you buy your pen and notepad and register for the class and then Boom! You don’t know what is happening, you can’t tell if you can make it, which class is better, which exam is harder and then you start to feel lost and then you quit.
This is a very common spiral of the language learning process. We are here today to tell you not to worry for many reasons: one, you are not alone. Two, it is totally natural and three we are going to give you a sneak peak of what to expect so you don’t struggle moving forward.
- Start with the basics but fast forward a little bit
What does that mean you ask?
Well, starting with the basics is easy. As a first time learner you begin with the alphabet. Even if that alphabet is the same as your target language, the pronunciation is different so please start with the basics! Now what does fast forward mean?
It is natural to be excited about learning a new language and fantasizing about discussing big topics and describing objects and places. Don’t kill that dream, give yourself a sneak peak of what’s to come by learning a few colors for example. Choose from your favorite vocabulary list and give yourself three to five words. That sense of accomplishment will help you cross the line even faster.
- Translating is not a good idea
You might think that you became a professional translator by knowing the color yellow in English and French, or counting till 10 in Spanish and French, but the reality is that translation slows you down. You’re making your brain work twice. It is much easier to switch it to the target language and focus on connecting the dots that will help you remember the term of reference directly, not through an intermediary. Don’t translate the sentence structure from your source language to the target language, make the effort to create the sentence in its original target language. Trust the process, it might feel harder at first but it will only get easier.
- Talk to people
Now some of you might say, I need to actually know the language before I speak to strangers in their native language. That is only 50% true. Remember when we discussed immersion? And the power of exposure to your language learning process? Well putting yourself through that pressure early on gives you a taste of what you’ll be doing in the future. How near or far that future will be, will depend on how much you work for it but also how much you’ve enjoyed listening to the speakers and how much you’ve imagined yourself speak as fluently!