How to start learning a language, right now!

Let’s face it: if I ask you if you want to learn a foreign language, you will tell me “yes”, right away. Everyone wants to learn a foreign language, to communicate with foreign friends or with locals when you travel. So why haven’t you started yet? Or maybe you started already, but you gave up after a while … I know that studying is boring, doing exercises is even more boring, and the words that you learned just yesterday, you forgot them already … You always say “Yes, sooner or later I will have to learn this or that language”, but then you never do, right?

We’re not going anywhere like this… But why is this happening?

Learning a foreign language is a project

The problem is that learning a foreign language is not simply making a wish. Languages can not be bought at the supermarket, you can not choose to buy one in the morning and start speaking  it tonight. Learning a foreign language is a project, often a long-term project and as all projects it can only work if you have a plan. I understand that making a plan with no idea of what may be the difficulties you will meet can be very complicated. You can feel lost and confused and give up before you even start, or shortly after that, because you think it is too hard for you.

Find your method

The truth is, the most difficult language to learn is almost always the first one. Because you don’t know what is your favorite method of learning: you don’t know if you like to learn with pictures or reading, or listening, or writing, or if you need to speak from day one. Everyone will suggest a different method, but actually you just have to try several methods and find the most suitable for you. Once you’ve found out what that is, learning even a third or fourth language will be much easier.

Imagine that learning a language is like reaching a new destination, but to get there you will have to learn to drive first. If you don’t know how to drive, even reaching a very close destination will be very complicated. Once you learn to drive, you can reach even the most remote destinations and therefore the most difficult languages.

4 steps to start learning a language right now

Now, how can you make this project:

1) You have to start now!

First you have to stop saying that sooner or later, one day, you will begin to study that language. Instead you have to start now, immediately! Don’t wait until you have more time, or until you will be more relaxed, when holidays are over, don’t wait until September, or January to make new year’s resolutions. If you want to learn a language, start right now: every day that you don’t study is a day that you haven’t learned a thing or that you did not improve.

2) You don’t need anybody else but you!

2) The second thing you need to do is to stop thinking that to learn a language you have to enroll in language courses in which you are together with 20 other people and one professor explaining, lesson after lesson, the verb to be, the verb to have, conjugations and grammatical rules. This is probably the exact method that led you to fail at learning languages so far!

The truth is that you don’t need anybody but yourself to start learning a language. Clearly having a teacher or a tutor or a Language Coach can help you achieve better results faster, but it will be essential that you do your own part actively. You are in charge of how, when and for how long you want to study.

3) Make languages a daily habit!

Maybe the most important point of the whole project is that in order to learn a language you have to understand that it requires a light but steady effort. Learning a language should become a daily habit, like having a coffee or reading the newspaper. It is not important if you have a lot of time or just a little bit. Of course, the more time you study, the sooner you will reach your goal, but studying 15 minutes every day is better than studying an hour every Sunday, or as in the language classes, 2 hours a week. Think of  a language as a plant you need to take care of, that you need to water everyday. If you study, you will water it, but if you don’t for a day, the plant will suffer, and if you don’t for several days, the plant will die. Block out a little time every day to make progress in the language you want to learn.

4) Choose the right resources for you!

4) Finally, resources: if you don’t know where to start, you can start with the free resources that I recommend in the free ebook that you receive when you sign up to my newsletter.

It is not true that you have to spend a lot of money to learn a language. You can do that for free, or spending very little.

In the future we will address some of these topics in more detail, but for now you can let me know what is that has kept you from learning a language, or why you couldn’t keep going after a while.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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About Raffaele Terracciano

Serial Language Learner, Blogger, Language Coach and Tour Leader. Travelling the world through books, languages, food and, you know, actual trips. Currently on a quest to gather the pieces of the Tower of Babel.