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.