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12 Do’s and Don’ts When Starting to Learn a New Language

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Are you trying to learn a new language and wondering about the best way to go about it? Well, there are a lot of programs out there to assist you, and of course, you could always teach yourself if you’re self-motivated. 


Either way, several tips can help make the process smoother, and some things to avoid that could prolong things and hinder your growth. It’s a little daunting trying to learn another language, especially beyond childhood. But the good news is that it’s totally doable! 


Here’s a list of tips that tell you how to learn a new language, what to do, and what not to do as you embark on this new learning experience. 

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The Do's

These simple tips will set the stage for success as you continue to set goals for learning a new language.

1. DO Enjoy the Journey

As with pretty much any new subject, you’re going to have to study and be motivated to learn. It’s a repetitive process when it comes to languages, and it’s easy to get discouraged along the way.


You have to find creative ways to make learning a little more fun and enjoyable. If not, the studying will become mundane, and you’ll get stuck at one stage. You can try listening to music, watching funny video clips, or even watching your favorite movie or TV show in a different language.  

2. DO Write Down Mistakes and Corrections

While it might get annoying, someone correcting you is a good thing that can help you improve. It helps your pronunciation, writing, and so on. If someone corrects you, you should write it down immediately so that you can remember the error. 


It’s handy to keep a little pocket notebook for these moments. You can also jot down new vocabulary words that you learn while you’re out and about. 

3. DO Learn the Basics

You have to learn the basics before you can get to note complicated materials like advanced grammar rules, synonyms, and so on. 


Start with basic grammar rules (pronouns, common locations, common verbs, pronouns), understand how to pronounce the letters in the alphabet, and build a solid vocabulary list. If you do choose to supplement your learning with an online course, make sure that it’s structured and organized in a way that consistently builds from the bottom up. 

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Give yourself room to make mistakes and grow, and just stay the course.

4. DO Take Time to Practice Your Listening Skills

It’s crucial to take time to listen to the language being spoken through different mediums. This top includes movies, music, conversations, audiobooks, and more. 


You have to train your ears to hear the words for comprehension and conversational purposes. It’s also a good idea to constantly listen to the language because it helps to improve your own pronunciation. 


You may also be surprised to know that the same word can sound different depending on who’s speaking. This all works together toward your goal of fluency and understanding.

5. DO Visit the Country

While this tip might not be possible for everyone, visit the country that speaks the language you want to learn if you have the opportunity. It’s an extra boost in learning because you not only hear the language but also experience the culture. 


You’ll naturally pick up on mannerisms, context, and other things that you may not experience first-hand by just listening to and watching music and movies. 

6. DO Establish a Plan

Everyone learns differently and at their own pace. Some people have a mentality that allows them to handle materials and teach themselves. Others function better with the assistance of an instructor to organize the material and guide/assist them as they learn. 


There are pros and cons to each method. It’s not about which is better, but more so which is more effective for you. 

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The Don'ts

As you’re learning a new language, keep the following tips in mind because these will help you not stagnate in your growth.

7. DON’T Set Unrealistic Expectations Based on Someone Else’s Progress

People have different capabilities. Just because someone learned how to speak the language faster than you or their pronunciation sounds better than you think yours sounds, it doesn’t mean you’re failing. 


They’ve likely been learning for years, or they’ve had a lot of immersive experiences that have cultivated their development. Stay the course, continue to work hard, and your diligence will pay off in the end. 

8. DON’T Wait Until You’re Ready to Speak

You’ll never quite be “ready.” Sometimes, we have this unrealistic expectation that we’ll be ready to talk once we get the pronunciation correct and know a lot of words. Funnily enough, you’ll come to see that this time will never arrive because there’s always more you can learn.


Input should indeed take some precedence over output, especially during the early stages. However, neglecting to speak altogether makes you miss out on essential skill development.

9. DON’T Study Too Much

Make your study sessions short and spaced out.


Relegating yourself to sitting in front of a screen or book for hours on end going over flashcards and rules will not make you learn any faster. Ironically, doing this can hinder you.


Therefore, you’ll want to study for periods of 15-30 minutes and spend the rest of your remaining time using the language and putting what you’ve learned into action.

10. DON’T Work Too Hard on One Skill and Neglect Others

Think of reading, listening, and speaking as individual skills that need to be strengthened all on their own.


For example, having a fluent conversation may be most useful at the moment. So you might hone in on this skill more than writing and reading. However, you should be aware that the other skills cross over and can significantly impact each other.

11. DON’T Set a Macro Goal Without the Micro Goals

What are macro and micro goals?


A macro goal, for example, would be having the aspiration to learn Italian so that you can pass a C1 test in a few years or so. This is a larger goal; however, you need the smaller goals to help you achieve your larger goal.


The micro goals are the small steps that you use on your way to conquering your ultimate goal. They provide you with constant motivation. Moreover, it provides you with a way to measure your progress when you look back on your body of work.


Some examples of micro-goals are; ‘watch a movie in Italian’ or ‘read a chapter of a Spanish novel’. By constantly setting new goals, you’ll never get complacent.

12. DON’T Speak English! (Or Your Native Language)

Speak no other language other than your language of focus unless it’s necessary. You must saturate yourself with the language that you desire to learn. That means everything from speaking, writing, reading, and even thinking in that language.


It forces you to pick up on the language more comprehensively because of your need to communicate with others.  Furthermore, if you don’t live among native speakers, then you must set aside as much time as possible every day to achieve this.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, the essential elements of language learning are staying persistent, submerging yourself in learning, and taking breaks that allow your mind to rest. 


All of these tips are critical to your growth and development, but learning starts with your persistence and dedication to your goals. 


Picking up a new language isn’t easy! Give yourself room to make mistakes and grow, and just stay the course. Whether you’re learning with a teacher or on your own, make sure you take time to appreciate how far you’ve come on your language journey. 

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