Learning Another Language- The Do’s & Don’ts

I suck at learning languages. With the memory of a goldfish, it is fair to say I will never speak more than one language, but there is no harm in trying. Learning another language is a long, hard process, but it is possible.
After living in Germany, I had many triumphs (and failures) of teaching myself German, learning pretty fast the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of schooling!


DO: Start with basic classes


Ideally, having one-on-one lessons with a teacher who understands that you are starting from scratch. The tutoring will allow you to stop and start as needed and you won’t fall behind. I don’t recommend starting a beginners group class in another country (where the native tongue is what you want to learn). I tried this and they will assume a lot of you, especially the basics (Hello, me, he, she etc.) and you could fall behind very fast when you don’t know the key phrases.

DON’T: Forget your homework


Whether it is self-inflicted learning or in a class, make sure you keep it up. Don’t fall behind because once you are set back, it is very hard to get back to where you need to be in the lesson plan. Again, this is why I prefer one-on-one teaching as you won’t need to worry about keeping up with the others (who may be faster learners than you!).

DO: Spend your spare time on a language app


DuoLingo is one of the best apps around, where you can challenge yourself with language games and put your lessons to the test. Make sure you don’t cheat- it is only you who will fail!

DON’T: Compare yourself with others


The more you track other people’s achievements, the more you are likely to give up. There are so many factors surrounding learning a language- family ties, earlier school classes, speed of learning, anxiety… You are not going to adopt the same methods as each and every other person, so go at your own pace. You want to get this RIGHT, not speed through and accidently pronounce the words wrong!

DO: Have someone keeping you accountable


One of the best ways to ensure you stick to anything in life is telling those around you. The more people asking ‘how is it going’, or ‘say a phrase in French!’ to you will push you to learn faster. Naturally, people want to impress those around them and by having a friend or family member keeping track of your achievements will ensure you are engaged.


What has worked for you? I would love to hear (and maybe try) your methods!

2 Replies to “Learning Another Language- The Do’s & Don’ts”

  1. A good post! I have been living in Japan for 3 years and came without knowing the language at all. I love learning the language. It’s one of my favorite things about living in Japan.

    Something that works for me has been speaking the language as much as possible. Even when I don’t know the words that I want to use I try to explain around the word… Not sure if that makes sense. Basically, it’s so easy to give up and use English since most people speak basic English. you wont improve your speaking of a foreign language by studying only by speaking. Going to bars alone and chatting with local patrons and bar tenders has been so good for my study of the language!

  2. Like you I really believe we should make the effort to know basic words in other languages! I’ve found DuoLingo recently and I love it, however it hasn’t taught me the simple – hello, goodbye, please, thank you, etc – yet, and that’s what I really want to know!!!

    Love, May x

    The Little Blonde Backpacker

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