The Best Language Learning Advice Isn’t Necessarily Language Learning Advice Posted by Transparent Language on Aug 28, 2017 in CL-150, Language Learning, Language News
We’re known for spouting off language learning advice on this blog, so you’re probably wondering what we mean by that title. Just hear us out.
Researching how languages can be learned most efficiently and effectively is our wheelhouse. It’s why U.S. Government agencies rely on us to train employees whose jobs require language skills; it’s why educators from higher ed to K-12 use Transparent Language Online in their classrooms or public libraries offer our tools free to their communities; and it’s why we share so much advice on this blog. We’re not trying to keep any secrets here—we believe human language capabilities still matter. We want you to be good at this stuff!
But over time, we’ve come to realize much of the best advice out there isn’t specific to learning languages. Yes, someone might have clever tricks about how to remember which verbs take avoir or être in the French past tense or tips for pronouncing tones in Vietnamese. Embrace that advice, you’ll likely need it.
But the really helpful advice—the stuff that’s going to help you learn faster or prevent you from quitting—has more to do with productivity, motivation, and organization. Before you learn any one skill deeply, you should learn how to learn. (Or potentially waste a lot of time and effort—your choice.) Figuring out where language can fit into your routine, what methods/tools work best for you, and how to stay motivated when you “can’t even” will make you a better learner, which in turn will make you a better speaker in the long term.
With that in mind, here’s some of our favorite advice right now for language learners, even if it (seemingly) has nothing to do with languages:
If you think you don’t have time to learn, read Why You Don’t Really Have a Time Management Problem by Charlie Gilkey.
“Money can be managed. People can be managed. Schedules can be managed. Time can only be accounted for. People who think they have time management problems really have priority management problems, which means, at root, they have self-management problems.”
If you can’t remember what you’ve learned, read Learn More Efficiently by Planning to Teach What You’re Studying by Patrick Allan.
“As you go over the material, detail specifically how you would convey the knowledge to that person so they could understand it just as thoroughly. You can even create a lesson plan highlighting the key components. You don’t have to teach anyone anything when it’s all said and done, but you’ll know the material so well, you could if you needed to.”
If you are burnt out, read Take a Productive Pause by Thomas Oppong.
“According to research, the brain gradually stops registering a sight, sound or feeling if that stimulus remains constant over time. You lose your focus and your performance on the task declines. Take action right now to reflect, to slow down, to disconnect, to pause.”
If you’re not even sure which advice to follow (from us or from anyone else), read Instead of Finding the Perfect Productivity System, Build a System You Can Stick To by Thomas Oppong.
“The best routines, I’ve found are created on purpose. The way you start your day powerfully shapes how productively you live it. Routines predetermine your schedule, allowing you to use your time efficiently. A routine is an investment. […] Use existing ideas to build your own system. Pick and choose from multiple philosophies, and put your own spin on them.”
Of course, this is but a small selection of advice for specific problems we see facing language learners. Help us grow this list! What problems have you faced? What’s that best language learning advice (or really, the best productivity, motivation, or organization advice) you’ve received? Let us know in the comments.