When someone decides to learn a new language, there is usually a driving reason fueling this choice. It could be that a new job opportunity requires fluency in English. Maybe there is a special trip you’ve always wanted to take but were not comfortable with your language level or perhaps you just enjoy learning a new language like me.
Whatever the reason, anyone who has attempted learning another language knows the dedication required to succeed in this goal. There are many useful strategies for language learning, but below I’m sharing the three most effective steps that have accelerated my students’ English learning.
1. Identify your English learning goal
Why are you learning English? This may sound like an obvious question, but if you really think about your reasons for packing study time into your already busy schedule you will not only focus your learning plan more but also keep yourself motivated to succeed.
When there is more than a vague reason for studying, you will feel inspired to master your new language. So, keep reminders of your goals nearby to keep you focused on how good you will feel when you reach these objectives.
You might even put photographs on a bulletin board above your desk to remind you why you are studying so hard. For example, if you have always wanted to visit New York City, you could pin pictures of your favorite landmarks from the Big Apple around your room. Step 1 is the most important part of this process because it influences the next two steps.
2. Study vocabulary that is relevant to your goals
Now that you have your goal clearly defined, you can gather the language learning material that will help your study sessions. If you are an accountant and you are hoping to get a job in an English-speaking country, focus your study on nouns and verbs that are specific to your occupation.
For example, you might decide to study a list of job-specific words like this:
This sample list would then be your guide for the day or week of study. Understand each word and how they might be used as nouns and verbs or even adjectives. When you master a small group of relevant words, your study becomes more manageable and useful. This will directly help you reach your end goal and stay motivated.
3. Use your focused vocabulary every day
You have identified your language learning goal and have a daily/weekly strategy for reaching that goal. These two parts are the most difficult to realize but once you have you will see how they improve your study time. Now, you want to use the vocabulary you listed in step 2 wherever you can.
Using the example list above, you might create a pretend ledger as an exercise. You could then see how many other words from your list you can include. Keep your study interesting to you. You want the things you learn in English to be focused on your goal so that you see progress every day.
Don’t get stressed about every detail and every word in your study. When you read an article about something that interests you in English, understand the general meaning first and, if there is vocabulary that confuses you, go back and look them up after you are done reading. It is more important to read, listen, speak, and write frequently in your new language than it is to try and be perfect with one exercise a month.
When you follow these three steps, they will also remind you of the progress you have made. Congratulate yourself when you see the vocabulary you have mastered. Even if you don’t have the fluency you want yet, know that you will get there and be proud of the hard work you have accomplished.