How to Start Learning a New Language Today

Learning a new language makes a great New Year’s resolution, but, as with any goal in life, we tend to spend more time thinking about how or why we want to do it, but struggle when it comes around to actually doing it. January 2018 is here. Let’s talk about starting a new language. Be honest with yourself, will you actually do it? Why put it off? Not until tomorrow, a month from now, or sometime this year. Start today.

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Stop doing nothing

While this may seem obvious, giving up on doing nothing can actually be pretty tough. Thinking about learning a new language is the equivalent of doing nothing because it’s not moving you any closer to accomplishing your goal. Imagining the outcome of achieving your goal can become the equivalent of a warm, fuzzy emotional blanket we just want to wrap tighter and tighter around ourselves. Sure, it’s fun to envision yourself travelling to France and holding a complex conversation about wines with a restaurant maître d’ (who will, of course, compliment you on your excellent grasp of the French language), but that’s not going to get you anywhere. So it’s time to unwrap that blanket and step out into the cold!

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Stop doing research

I’m going to break this to you as gently as I can: in-depth research into how to learn a foreign language is really just another way of doing nothing about learning the language. Spending hours scouring the internet for tips on the best way to learn a language may leave you with the feeling of having accomplished something, but can you carry out a basic conversation in Japanese after all that research? I didn’t think so. Reading too much advice on how to learn a language can also be detrimental to your learning process. There’s always a variety of opinions, tips, and tricks and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all that information—not to mention you’ll feel exhausted at the idea of applying all of them to your language learning. You may actually come away feeling more uncertain and confused than before you began! So leave off the research and get ready to just jump in.

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Stop waiting

This may just be the hardest part of the whole process, but you need to stop waiting on learning a new language. Like, right now. Today. This second. Stop fretting about whether or not you have the best grammar book, or if this language program is better than that one, just get started. Stop and think for a moment: what is one thing you could do right this moment that would mark a first step towards actually learning the language? It might be downloading a language app to practice your Spanish, or watching a movie in Portuguese. You could start by learning your first five Chinese words today, or finding some good Russian music and listening to it. Just do that one thing today, then tomorrow do another, and on and on until you’re making a real dent in the process of learning that new language.

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So there you have it! As soon as you finish reading this article, I expect you to go and start learning your target tongue! But, if you can’t think of one thing you can do right now to help you get started (and then actually following through with it), maybe it’s time to seriously consider whether or not you really want to learn another language. Sometimes the idea of doing something like picking up a foreign language can be more appealing than actually putting in the work, time, and effort to get it done. If you find the idea of speaking fluent Korean cool, but aren’t going to do anything to achieve that goal, then it might be that you’re not all that keen to learn the language. But, if you really do want to learn Korean (or whatever other language you’re interested in), you’ll be able to start doing it now. Like, today.

Have you ever struggled to start the language learning process? What are some of the ways you got past the idea of learning a language and actually started doing it? Do you have any tips or tricks for other potential language learners?