Would you like to learn a Foreign Language? We at Focus Language make it feasible and enjoyable.

Easy to learn:

Many people believe that learning a new language is a difficult and boring task. We make it doable and fun for you. We provide you with the right teachers, the right materials and the right programs. We have thirty years experience helping people learn.

Fast:

We understand how to structure our programs so you can learn efficiently and fast. All you need to do is apply and enjoy yourself.

Cost-effective

We want to make it feasible for anyone to learn: students, business people, travelers, children. Our rates are always reasonable.

Customized programs:

We realize that everyone has different needs. We provide the right program, the right approach and the right schedule for you.

Excellence:

We constantly strive to find the best methods and the best resources to provide the best language programs possible. We also provide you with great support materials.

To set up a course:

Email us  at info@focuslanguage.com

*or Call anytime*

in Chicago: (630) 338 1144

in Phoenix: (602) 954 0465

This course shows you in detail how to learn a foreign language efficiently and enjoyably.

I have learned 9 languages throughout the year and in this guide I show you tools and techniques that work wonderfully.

You simply need to decide to learn.

Enjoy it!

I. QUICK START-UP GUIDE

  1. Before you start studying a language, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Am I genuinely interested in this language?
  • Does it sound attractive to me? (This is a vital question since you will be spending a lot of time immersed in it.) Would you date someone whose voice you hated?
  • Am I attracted to the culture?
  • Are there books and movies that I want to explore?
  • Are there natives with whom I can interact? (In the internet age, the answer is always “yes”

 

  1. Once you have a clearer idea about the language or languages you want to study, ask the following questions.
  • How challenging a language is it? (Find out by doing a quick online search.)
  • How close is it to my mother tongue or to a language I already know? (The closer, the easier!)
  • Is the writing system difficult? Does it use a completely different writing system?
  1. Clarify your purpose
  • Are you learning to travel, to connect with friends or to run a business?
  • What level of competency do you require or desire? Do you want to order food, watch movies or have deep conversations?
  1. Establish a time frame
  • How much time do you want to devote to the project: weeks? Months? Years?
  • How many hours a week will be comfortably and naturally available to you?

 

READY TO START?

Once you have decided to study a new language, you can approach the project in the following sequence.

  1. Exploration

Start to listen to the language, watch movies, videos and newscasts. Go on websites. Remain light and inquisitive. Let your curiosity guide you. You are not actually studying: you are merely gathering information and getting a feel for the language.

 

  1. Jumping into a course

Find something online or buy a book. Duolingo is great for that (www.duolingo.com) The idea here is to start: anything! (You can always change systems later.) Ride on your enthusiasm and learn as much as you can right away.

 

  1. Systematic organization

Organize the five different areas of study of your new language. Gather the materials you will need to learn efficiently.

  • Pronunciation and basic reading
  • Studying new material
  • Memorization
  • Input (Listening and reading)
  • Output (speaking and writing

Whoever you are, you will want to become good at these five tasks. The better you are at each, the faster you progress will be. Conversely, ignoring any area will adversely affect your capacity.

We are all capable of performing adequately in each these areas. The obvious proof of this is that you learned English (or another language) as a small child. We may have different learning styles, but language learning is hard-wired in our biology. The secret is to develop each in ways which specifically work for you.

Here are the Five Areas you want to embrace.

copyright 2019 Focus Language

HUNDRED-DAY CHALLENGE

One way to start learning a language is by doing a 100-day Challenge.

When we start a project, motivation and excitement  are high.

Use this to get yourself going.

100-DAY LANGUAGE LEARNING CHALLENGE

 

Practice efficiently and enjoyably for 100 days.

Develop your knowledge and performance automatically.

Some days you will be brilliant. Others you might feel your skills are deficient.

Keep going regardless.

Language learning is very much like training for a sport: you need to know the fundamentals. You need to practice in a competent way. You need to keep going for a while, and you need to have fun.

5 AREAS OF STUDY

There are 5 areas which should be hit most days: at least 4 or 5 times a week.

  • Input: Listening and reading
  • Memorization
  • Output: speaking and (writing)
  • Studying
  • Pronunciation

I have written longer blog posts http://focuslanguage.com/blog/ on each of these areas. Read the ones which you feel attracted to.

SECTION ONE

INPUT

SHORT VERSION

Read and listen to something in the language every day.

Input means listening and reading.

Input is incredibly powerful. There are millions of children and young people all over the world learning English just by watching American movies, television shows and by reading social media platforms and gaming websites.

They have the right idea!

Do both every day. Decide in the moment which is more important that day.

Make sure you do both almost every day of the week.

a. LISTENING – 5-15 MINUTES

Activities: podcasts, movies, television shows, YouTube videos, newscasts, songs, www.yabla.com, www.lingq.com  (or anything else you can discover in your searches).

 

THE PROCESS

 

Listen to something every day. Vary the venues. Experiment. Always keep it enjoyable.

 

Listen in a conscious and relaxed manner.

 

Don’t analyze or try to translate. Just follow the words and let the meaning spontaneously emerge in your mind. Understanding is a function of attention, not will.

 

Relax, pay attention, breathe. Stay focused.

 

This is not the time for thinking, judging or deciding. This is the time for staying present no matter what.

 

CHOOSING MATERIAL

You (normally) need to have a basic understanding of what you hear. You don’t need to understand every word. You want to have at least a basic idea of what is said. You need to understand 40% or more of what you hear. Your brain will fill in the missing pieces.

It is useful for pronunciation but not for comprehension to listen to materials you don’t understand at all.

Experiment!

It’s fine to have subtitles or close captions running while you listen (some of the time), but make sure you are hearing the words. As you listen, you hear. As you hear, let the words and phrases sink in without your doing or thinking anything.

There are many jokes made about the husband who doesn’t seem to hear a single word his wife says. Rather than doing that, be like an attentive lover, focused and receiving every word your beloved speaks.

Love and pleasure are important in our life. Make sure that what you listen to is wonderful, enjoyable or even blissful for you.

Who wants to hear a boring person with a horrible voice droning on about irrelevant things?

It’s your responsibility to find material you enjoy.

b. READING 5-15 minutes

ACTIVITIES

Novels, magazines, websites, college readers, comic books, Animé, news articles, articles about your hobbies and interests. Anything in the foreign language.

 

THE PROCESS

The process is exactly the same as before, but you use your eyes instead of your ears.

 

Read something every day. Spontaneously vary what you read. Experiment. Always keep it interesting and fun for yourself

 

Read consciously and stay relaxed.

 

Once again don’t analyze or try to translate. Just follow the words and let the meaning spontaneously emerge in your mind. As we said before, understanding is a function of attention, not will. Understanding is an unconscious brain function. Let it happen.

If you don’t understand anything at all, bring the reading level down.

Feel free to put the text into Google Translate paragraph by paragraph. But, always read in the new language before you read the translation. Then read the paragraph (or sentence) a second time. This approach makes it much faster and easier to read. It lets you learn new vocabulary.

Relax, pay attention, breathe. Stay focused.

 

Enjoy your reading time. Find a comfortable place. Stay relaxed and keep breathing.

CHOOSING MATERIAL

There are no rules. Read anything you might enjoy. In print or on a screen.

Again, you want to have a basic understanding of what you hear. You don’t need to know all the vocabulary and grammar. You do want to have at least a basic idea of what is written. Using Google Translate can really help if you don’t use it as a replacement for doing the work.

Experimenting will keep it alive and fun for you.

http://focuslanguage.com/blog/2018/12/13/reading-to-develop-fluency/

 

 

The flower of learning

SECTION TWO

MEMORIZING

Learning new words and grammar is vital to your learning process.

The key is to find a systematic and efficient way to learn and remember new language information.

If you constantly forget something you have previously learned, you need to strengthen your memorization skills and system.

ACTIVITIES

Your primary memorization tools are the mighty flash card, the laser focus of your mind and your extraordinary imagination.

Use flash cards.

  • Use physical flash cards. (Old school)
  • Use an electronic Spaced Repetition System like Anki or Mnemosyne. (Electronic flash cards).
  • Many online programs have automatic flash card generation systems.

Learn to memorize efficiently

Read my blog posts about memorization if you want more detailed info.

The Keys to memorization are Focus, Association, Review and Self-Testing.

Memorization is a learned skill. Your parents taught you what was important and had to be remembered: numbers? Names? Spatial orientation? Muscle competence? Social skills? Recipes? Verbal or visual information?

 

THE PROCESS

FLASH CARDS AND SRS

(The first is physical and the second digital: same idea.)

Make all your flash cards with full sentences, never single words ones.

  • “For” makes a poor flashcard. It is hard to remember because it doesn’t connect to anything.
  • “I work for my uncle” is much better. It places the word in context and shows you how to use it.
  • You can also make cloze deletion cards. They are very effective.

Front of the card: “I work …… my uncle.”

Back of the card: “I work for my uncle.”

Add notes if you like. This type of card trains you to access the word you are learning directly.

  • Generally, we recommend you create your cards in the following way:

Front: New language sentence -> Back: English sentence

You are coding the information. You need to See the correct version several times before you try to go English -> New language

Summary:

You will normally use French to English or German to English, or Mandarin to English flash cards. This teaches you the correct way to say things.

Later, if you like, you can reverse the order to challenge yourself.

Make sure you know before you start to recreate.

The cloze deletion cards will normally use no English. (English notes in the back are OK.)

 

THE PROCESS OF MEMORIZATION

(See blog posts for detail about this process.)

FOCUS -> ASSOCIATION -> REVIEW -> SELF-TESTING

These are the pillars of memorization.

 

  1. FOCUS

Focus your attention intensely on the word or grammar info you want to remember. Short bursts of intense concentration are powerful.

Long, diluted, multi-tasky, distracted periods are ineffectual.

This is related to our fight and flight mechanisms.

Seals do not worry much about tigers or sea gulls, but they are highly motivated to track polar bears. Polar bears actively track seals and humans carrying spears, not spring flowers or ants.

We remember what is relevant to us, what concerns our survival or our pleasure drives. We ignore boring, uninteresting irrelevant details.

Your challenge is to make unimportant info (a new word) highly relevant: ie memorable.

 

  1. ASSOCIATION

The secret to developing good memory is to create strong associations.

“What does this word sound like?” ”What does it look like?”

These are the first 2 questions to ask.

Then create a little cartoonish story which connects the SOUND of the word with its MEANING.

I describe the process in detail in my blog post.

 

  1. REVIEW

Reviewing (before you forget) allows new info to go from short-term to long-term memory.

SRS systems do this automatically for you.

 

 

  1. SELF-TESTING

The best way to review is to test yourself and to strengthen your associations every time you forget the info.

Keep using your flash cards in the same order: Foreign language to English.

Testing yourself prods your memory and strengthens the neural connections.

Simply reading the vocabulary is a far weaker way to memorize.

 

CHOOSING MATERIAL

Choose whatever you think will be of use to you.

Make flash cards with full sentences.

Use a native dictionary or a grammar book which gives you correct sentences.

Google Translate is a terrible way to create sentences. It will betray you in horrendous and absurd ways.

Google Translate is fantastic to translate Foreign Language to English.

It is almost useless in the English to Foreign Language direction. You cannot trust the translation it gives you.

 

Blog posts:

http://focuslanguage.com/blog/2018/12/09/memorization-part-1-focus/

http://focuslanguage.com/blog/2018/12/09/memorization-part-2-association/

http://focuslanguage.com/blog/2018/12/09/memorization-part-3/

blowing language bubbles

SECTION THREE

SPEAKING

Get Motivated, get organized, get disciplined and Speak!

HOW TO PRACTICE SPEAKING

Language students often say: “I understand pretty well. I can read OK. But I can’t speak. I can’t say what I want and need to say!”

Here is a technique that really helps with this problem.

(I have taught it to many students and successfully used it myself with a number of languages.)

 

PRELIMINARIES

  1. To practice this technique, you first need to feel reasonably comfortable with your pronunciation. You need to be reasonably at ease saying and reading your new language.
  2. You also need to be quite familiar with the most important and recurring vocabulary: the words we use constantly (I, go, and, but, my etc.) Programs like Duolingo or first-year school textbooks will contain all this vocab. I am providing a link to a useful 625-word list you can use. (The list appears in the second half of the article.) https://blog.fluent-forever.com/base-vocabulary-list/

 

Having this base will allow you to practice smoothly and enjoyably. The more you practice in this way, the easier it will be for you to speak.

Once you pronounce reasonably well and are familiar with basic vocabulary, you are ready to begin.

The more you practice, the easier and the more natural it will become for you.

You will eventually be able to practice speaking at any time, without any effort or preparation.

You will finally be able to function flawlessly in your new language, as naturally as you do in your native language.

ROUTINE

Let’s establish a simple and automatic routine. This will work exactly like a gradual exercise program.

I suggest you commit yourself for six weeks or to a 100-day challenge.

You will practice for 15 minutes.

You can divide your practice into short 2 or 3-minute rounds.

If you like, use a timer. Speak as best as you can until the bell ring. Then stop.

Your job is simply to make sentences for that time.

Do the 15 minutes in one session or subdivide your time into 3 or more mini-sessions.

There are only 2 rules:

  1. Keep making sentences
  2. Relax

You will most likely make some mistakes. That’s OK. Do not worry.

(I intend to make a recording to help you understand how to do this if you need help.)

(Once upon a time) …… (there was a magician) ….. (who lived) ….. (in a forest.)

This is the way you want to structure your sentences.

Notice that I am subdividing each sentence into short logical units!

This is the secret.

It is a natural way to speak. It is the way we speak our native language: not word by word; not in long complicated sentences.

You also do this automatically when you read a story out loud to a small child.

The princess returned home ….. and ….. they lived ….. happily ever after.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT

As you practice, understand that flow and rhythm are at least as important as the words you are speaking.

When you have the recording (soon to be made available), go through it as many times as you want.

When you feel ready, do your best to do the same thing on your own.

  • You can start by making a sentence in English and translating it. (The way the future recording will do it.)
  • Once it becomes easier, you can speak directly in the new language: slowly, clearly and in short logical units.
  • If you prefer, skip the translation step, and start making sentences right away.

 

Your story does not have to make sense. Make simple statements and connect them with words like : “but”, “therefore”, “if”.

MY PRACTICE STORY

Notice that my story does not particularly make sense. It is pure practice language.

It contains many words and constructions which we constantly use when we communicate.

To help you with memorizing your vocabulary, you are generating sentences containing the core words. (Keep the vocab list handy, if you like.)

Master these words. There are not many, and they are pure gold for you.

ON YOUR OWN

When you start out, you should practice with one subject at a time.

  • I … I … I … I….
  • I live in the city … and…. I work at night. I love vegetables… but… I don’t eat them. I watch television… with my friends… on the weekend… in the Spring. I drive my car… in the city… and… in the country. I drive fast… because… I am always late.

Or

  • we … we …we.
  • We eat in the morning …. But…. we sleep at night. We buy houses… in the city… and we sell them… to young people… with red hair. We never complain. We always laugh. We want to go… to Hawaii… next month. We need to buy… airline tickets… immediately. We will stay… in an airbnb. We will shop… in the city… and we will go… to the beach.

When you are comfortable making a story with one person, you can use two or more:

  • I … she … I … we, etc.
  • I love to sleep… but… she loves to run… She buys me diamonds… and… I buy her… red shoes. She loves shoes… because… she likes to run… with her friends… at night.

If the language you use has verb conjugations – like French, German or Hindi – it will help a lot to do this work one step at a time.

BABY STEPS.

Most people know the language information (vocab and grammar) 75-85% but they are unable to come up with it fast enough to communicate.

They may feel stuck or frustrated. Self-confidence may suffer.

The type of practice I suggest specifically works to remedy this problem.

To do it effectively, you must understand that it only about creating language. It is never about what you say.

A football player constantly practices running many patterns. If he does so effectively, he will be to use them in an actual game. This is exactly what you are doing.

Be smart about it and have fun practicing. Make up amusing or strange stories; or discuss things which are important to you.

Once you get used to the process, it is quite  a bit of fun and extremely satisfying to do.

It also automatically tells you

  • What you don’t know how to say (and want to).
  • What vocab or grammar you need to learn.
  • What pronunciation issues you feel.

PREPARATIONS

Decide what you will talk about (my trip to Hawaii in June, my view of the universe or my cousin’s volley ball tournament). Learn or review the vocab and the grammar you need to perform reasonably well.

You can make notes, have cue cards and prompts available.

Make it easy on yourself. Prepare the terrain.

If you want to run, you buy good shoes and you stretch. You pick a good time on a good day. You don’t run barefoot on thorns in 115 degree weather. Except for Steven.

Make mistakes, get stuck … but keep going.

You can record yourself if you like. It will reveal much to you when you listen to yourself. Be analytical and solution-seeking; not judgmental and critical.

Do an honest self-evaluation, and let it tell you what you need to do next.

SAMPLE SCRIPT

This would be a way of practicing these useful verbs: can, want, could, must, will, should, going to etc.

I want to work… in Australia… but… I want to live… in Europe. I don’t want to live… in Norway… because… I can’t speak Norwegian. I can’t speak Italian… so… I don’t want to live… in Italy. I need to buy a house… in Paris. I don’t need to buy… a big house. I want to buy… a small apartment. But first… I must buy a hat. I cannot live… in Paris… if I don’t have… a good hat. I could buy… a blue hat. I could steal… a green hat… but… I should not steal. I should eat vegetables… and… exercise every day.

Tonight… I want to sleep… but… I must work. I have a problem… I have to work… and… I have to sleep. If I sleep… I can’t work… and… if I work… I can’t sleep. Tomorrow… I will find an assistant. When I sleep… I won’t have to work.

Now… I can go… to Tucson. I must take a plane. I can’t drive… because… I need to arrive… at 8.  Etc…..

Notice that the story doesn’t really make sense; but I am certainly practicing my verbs! I am practicing making well-constructed sentences. My body and my mouth are getting used to creating language.

Regardless of what you are saying, make it sound good, make it sound smooth. Keep speaking clearly and slowly.

MISTAKES AND NOT KNOWING

People worry they are making mistakes or being ignorant will somehow ruin their future progress.

Not true!

It’s OK not to know. The important thing is to decide what you want to learn that you don’t know.

You will definitely make mistakes or be unsure how to say something. Here is how to use this situation.

  • Don’t worry about mistakes you are unaware of. (That will drive you mad.)
  • If you make a mistake with something you feel is important, jot down a quick note. (for example: “Review past tense” or “need word for house”)
  • If it seems unimportant, move on and forget it.

 

Speak. Do the best you can. Keep at it. Figure out what you need and what is missing.

 

Blue hills of China

SECTION FOUR

PRONUNCIATION (5-15 minutes)

SHORT VERSION

always track your pronunciation. Read and repeat.

The keys to pronunciation are

Awareness and Perseverance

Never, ever slack on pronunciation. Keep it in consciousness at all times.

I am delighted to break most rules. But not this one!

If you are speaking a language, you want to make it sound as good as possible all the time. No exceptions.

Once you do this for a while it will become absolutely automatic. You will no longer have to track it. You will just enjoy the new language the way you enjoy a good conversation in your mother tongue.

Native speakers will be grateful and pleased.

 

AWARENESS

A football or basketball player is constantly aware of his/her body, location; as well as the position and movement of the ball, all teammates and opponents. That is a lot of tracking! When you are athlete, this is happening while you are running and other people are trying to hit you or run you down.

You, as a language learner, simply need to be aware of your tongue, your lips, your jaw and the air coming out of your lungs.

You also need to listen to the quality of the sound coming out of your mouth: is your English from Georgia, Sydney or London? Your French from Montréal or Paris?

Are you enjoying the sound or tolerating it?

Are you relaxed or tense?

Are you having fun or suffering?

The most important questions are the last two. Speaking your new language has to become a pleasurable experience.

PERSEVERANCE

Keep at it.

You are teaching your body a new dance. Relax and enjoy it.

THE PROCESS

We learn pronunciation by listening to and imitating natives. You listened to your parents from your crib and babbled for a while. Now you can complain about anything you want in exquisite detail.

You listened. You imitated. You learned

ROUTINE

As a routine, you will, from now on, always pronounce as well as you can, whenever you are speaking. Try to be a benevolent observer for yourself.

Here is a list of exercises which will help develop good pronunciation.

  1. The Shadowing exercise

Turn on a recording or movie and repeat everything you hear as well as you can. Forget about the meaning. Imitate. If you miss something, ignore it.

This develops you ear to mouth coordination.

 

  1. Alternative Shadowing:

You may pause the recording if it is convenient before repeating. (Yabla)

 

  1. Reading out loud

Spend a few minutes a day reading very consciously. Notice what sounds are difficult or confusing.

 

  1. Conscious reading

In addition, I recommend that whenever you read anything during your study time, you read it with the same attention to pronunciation. This will greatly increase your ear and skill. Let it become a second nature.

  1. Listening consciously

Listening will improve your pronunciation.

What do you hear? How does it feel? How is it interesting or odd?

Most people do 75% of the work and stay uncomfortable for ever.

Finish the job and enjoy your life in your new language.

Natives will love you for it.

 

Blog Post:

LANGUAGES: 20 WAYS TO DEVELOP GREAT PRONUNCIATION

 

 

PART FIVE

STUDYING (5-15 minutes)

Studying is Preparation.

When you study, you prepare yourself to speak better, understand more, pronounce clearly, converse effortlessly.

There are no rules here. Whatever seems useful to you is fertile ground.

THE PROCESS

The pillars for effective study are…

Organization and Understanding.

The primary purpose of study is to understand.

You gather the words, grammar patterns and expressions that you want to learn in a systematic or spontaneous way.

You can read, listen and write to understand.

Studying always ties in to Memorization.

 

WHAT TO STUDY

Here are some of the most useful things to study.

VOCABULARY

Learning new words is arguably the most useful thing you can do.

Find the words you need and put them on flash cards in full sentence form.

There are internet lists and books containing any vocabulary you may want to learn.

This study must be turned into memorization or it is not useful.

PRACTICAL EXPRESSIONS

(are really part of memorization)

Knowing how to function in the new language – shopping, meeting people, traveling – is extremely useful. All stock expressions – Hi! Good bye! Where is the airport? – can be turned into flash cards and memorized.

 

GRAMMAR

Learning how to use the language and learning how to say what you want are important goals.

  • Knowing how to make basic (and eventually complex) sentences
  • Knowing how to use the present, future and past tenses.
  • Key grammar words (see blog post on grammar)

All this is to be transferred to full sentence flash cards as soon as possible.

Some people learn grammar by studying it.

Others learn it in context by seeing how it works.

There is no one better way to learn. It is personal style.

Try both.

Somehow, it must all end up on your flash cards.

Knowing where things to put usually useful very is.

 

PRONUNCIATION

When you begin this journey, it is really worth your while to learn how to correctly pronounce your new language. It is the greatest source of confidence or insecurity.

Pronouncing well insures rapport with native speakers. “She is one of us!”

Some people study pronunciation.

Others learn it unconsciously simply by listening and repeating.

It is once again a matter of style.

 

DUOLINGO

Duolingo is a wonderful and automatic way to learn how to use your new language. It teaches you basic words and grammar patterns. It chooses the most important things to learn and is relentless in teaching them to you. It demands that you remember. It teaches you how to understand, speak, read and write.

It is not all you need to become a fluent speaker, but it is very useful in helping you learn and remember the basics. It keeps you learning.

It is easy to use and free www.duolingo.com. I suggest you try it out.

There are many other programs and systems available. Explore them too.

No rules!

WRITING AND PRACTICE EXERCISES

It is quite useful to do written and oral exercises to practice what you are learning.

Particularly when studying grammar, you want to make sure that you are learning the patterns correctly.

Studying is all about understanding patterns and knowing how to put them together.

Writing also helps fixing info into your memory.

There are countless workbooks that help you practice grammar. Try them out if that approach appeals to you.

I believe that doing systematic exercises helps you develop competence and self-confidence. (If doing so appeals to you.)

STUDYING ALWAYS MOVES TO MEMORIZATION

Always!

Take whatever you study and make memorization flash cards.

THE BASICS

I plan to add a list of top words and grammar patterns to learn in any language to this basic 100-day challenge. Modify or add to it. Each language has unique elements.

 

  1. CONCLUSION

You are ready to start.

  1. Commit to 100 continuous days

Or

  1. Commit to 5 days a week
  2. Cover each of the five areas every day, even if for a few minutes.
  3. Keep going and get the results
  4. Enjoy your journey.

 

  1. CONTACT ME

jps@focuslanguage.com

 

  1. RESOURCES

Vocabulary

https://www.businessinsider.com/zipfs-law-and-the-most-common-words-in-english-2013-10

https://blog.fluent-forever.com/base-vocabulary-list/

https://www.fluentin3months.com/most-common-300-words/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-44569277

Here are four more ways to keep up your morale and motivation as you learn your new language.

6. Connect with the Culture and the People

Find meaningful ways to get involved with your “new country”!

Study the history, watch videos of the cities and the landscapes.

You tube videos are a fantastic ways to peek into and feel involved with a specific group. (Spanish Yoga, French hiking, German cars etc.)

You can also join groups that interest you on Facebook or Instagram. This will automatically teach you a lot of words and connect you to real people.

Find organizations and forums that excite you in the new language. Become a member.

Go to restaurants and markets and try out your skills (even if it scares you.)

 

7. Celebrate your Success and Progress

Every day (or at least every week), acknowledge and celebrate how you are improving. Be honest but supportive of what you have accomplished.

Gratitude is important. Never being good enough saps your morale and motivation.

Make a list of the things you can now do which were impossible when you started out.

There is always room for improvement but realistic self-acceptance keeps you happy and progressing.

Be nice to yourself.

 

8. Create a Great Routine

When you are ready to study, you should have a great routine already in place.

Always have at least ten activities you could engage in with the foreign language. In some other posts I have made suggestions on how to develop your own program.

You want to cover the main bases: developing good pronunciation, reading and oral comprehension, practicing speaking, developing vocab and grammar.

The activities are simply the tools. Emphasize the ones you enjoy.

If you enjoy your routine, you will stick to it.

If you think you have a gap somewhere, research satisfying ways of filling it.

 

9. Focus on Medium-Range Goals.

“I am going to improve my pronunciation in the next month” is a fantastic goal.

“I will practice simple speaking for 10 minutes in January and February.”

“I will study 45 minutes 6 days a week for 6 weeks.”

“I will watch a movie every weekend this month.”

These are all realistic and achievable goals. They will automatically help you develop your knowledge.

Anything which you can achieve in 3 to 10 weeks will help you move forward in a significant way.

Make sure that it is something you can achieve.

It can be a “means goal”: “I will use my flash cards for 20 minutes every day for a month.”

It can be an “end goal”: “I will memorize 45 new words every week this month.”

So there you have it: Nine Ways to make sure you keep your morale high and your motivation strong. Pick the ones you enjoy and create new ones as you go along.

Enjoy your new language!

 

 

There are simple ways to keep your morale and motivation up while you are learning a new language.

  1. Set clear progressive goals.
  2. Keep exploring new materials
  3. Practice in a way that satisfies you
  4. Be realistic in your expectations
  5. At the same time dream big with your plans
  6. Find a way to connect with the culture
  7. Find a legitimate way to celebrate your progress and success
  8.  Create a great routine
  9. Focus on the Medium Range

1. Make Clear Realistic Goals

Decide up front why you are learning this language. What do you specifically want to achieve?

Do you want to enjoy relationships? Travel in the Country? Do business? Watch movies?

It is important to know what your success would look, feel  and sound like.

Decide what you want to be able to do. Pronounce beautifully? Understand what people say? Be able to express yourself? Read fluently?

 

2. Explore New Materials

Enjoy the tools that you already have, but keep looking for new videos, podcasts, tools, books, methods and opportunities.

This keeps the language fresh and exciting. You keep refining your approach this way. You know what you enjoy and what works for you. Keep finding more of it.

3. Practice In a Way You Enjoy.

Regardless of your motivation and goals, always practice in a way that gives you satisfaction. Tactically speaking – when you are in the field – select tasks that you enjoy and which allow you to feel that you are meaningfully progressing.

Notice the comments you make to yourself.

This is very much like doing physical exercise.

“This is fun!” v/s “I hate this.”

“Hey, my pronunciation is improving!” “I have no idea how to say this.”

“I understand more.” “I’m lost here.”

“I am more comfortable speaking now.”

“I really need to understand how to use the past tense.” “This is confusing.”

There are endless ways to skin the proverbial cat: find the ones you love!

 

4. Be Realistic in Your Expectations.

“I will master Cantonese in three weeks” is probably not realistic.

“I will be able to take trains and order in restaurants within three weeks” is.

Your time availability will be a clear guide as to what you can achieve: two hours a week v/s 8 hours a day!

You can go online, if you like, and find out how others have succeeded; how long it took them; what they achieved.

Have realistic expectations and be ready to adjust them.

5. Dream Big

Be realistic with your time-frame and your goals. Simultaneously imagine the Big Goal. Let it be something which is exciting and meaningful to you. Fantasize as to what will happen.

It is possible. The question is simply “how”. Then get back to your drawing board and realistically determine what will get you there.

(To be continued)

Motivation is a key element when you learn a language.

How do you keep yourself focused until you reach your desired fluency?

Obstacles, distraction, discouragement are like the winter storms that stop you as you move toward your goal.

Motivation is the fire that keeps you going through you language-learning journey.

How do you build a powerful fire that will light up the night and keep you warm and safe throughout?

1. Excitement

2. Happiness

3. Variety

4. Clarity of purpose

It sounds like the recipe for a successful relationship!

Learning a language is a relationship. Make sure that it is well-suited to you. Make sure that you look forward to all the interactions. Make sure that you are clear-headed and ready to deal with any difficulty.

1. Excitement

Find a language you love! That first spark of excitement is vital. It allows you to take the time to organize, to create space in your schedule. It allows you to fantasize how much fun it will be to explore and to know more.

2. Happiness

No matter how exciting a relationship at the beginning, it must keep you happy throughout. Make sure that the routine you create with your new language, the activities you partake in, the materials you use keep you happy.

3. Variety

Find many different activities and tools. Vary what you do. Let your spontaneity guide you. Decide in the moment what you want to do.

4. Clarity of purpose

Do you want to read novels? Talk to your friends? Conduct business? Travel abroad? Know where you want to end up.

Define at the very beginning what you want to do with the new language. Imagine where and how you will do so. Specifically imagine what you will be able to do when you have reached your goal.

These four aspects will ensure that your relationship with your new language will be a successful one.