Avoiding Stagnation in Language Learning

There are times when learning a language becomes more of a slog than a hobby. Inevitably, there are times when you’d rather sit and watch sport in front of your television. There are even times when we’d all rather tidy up and do the laundry than practice our language. But language learning isn’t all about marathon sessions, and retaining everything first time. A little a day is generally the way to go. We need to keep the habit of language learning. So, how do we avoid those days where we’re uninspired? We build our language learning plan so that there’s always something new and exciting to be learned. The following three tips are to that end:

Avoiding Stagnation in Language Learning One: Keep it Relevant

The easiest way to avoid stagnation in your language learning is to keep it relevant to yourself. When you’re building your initial sentences in a language, make sure they are relevant to you. There is no point in learning, “I have a pet dog called Scooby” if you don’t. Not when it’s so easy to change the words out. “I have a sister called Daphne” uses exactly the same grammar and most of the same vocabulary, but one is about you, and the other isn’t.

Avoiding Stagnation in Language Learning Two: Keep It Challenging

People complaining about the tough time they have picking up a new skill tend to fall into the ‘learning it rote’ category. It’s why most people don’t retain any information from school. You’re there to punch in your time card, zombie through the lesson, and then leave. That’s not how to create a successful habit. You need to be engaged at all times. This is done by adjusting the level of difficulty to a level you find optimal.

a. Don’t make it too tough.

If you’re straining too hard and comprehending ten percent of a text, you’re not going to pick up all that you need to get to 100%. If native conversation is moving too fast and you pick up one out of every thirty words, you’re not understanding 97% of the conversation. There is no way to reconcile that much in your head. It’s like me showing you a picture of somebodies nostril and asking you to tell me the face it came from. Slow it down – pick something easier, and you’ll reach understanding of the more difficult text sooner than you think.

b. Don’t make it too easy.

The opposite of above. Don’t make it too easy. This is for the countless people across the internet who spend hours a day going through anki cards. If it isn’t challenging you cognitively, it’s a waste of time. If you remember something, you remember it. If you don’t, you need to relearn it. Don’t spend hundreds of hours using exactly the same level of vocabulary that you’ve already learned how to use. Don’t finish a Teach Yourself book and then start a Colloquial book if they’re on the same level. Always be challenged.

Avoiding Stagnation in Language Learning Three: Seek Out New Experiences

Use your language as a gateway. It’s the reason why you’re learning the language in the first place, regardless of what it is a gateway to. If you want to take up a foreign hobby, do that. If you want to find the love of your life, do that. Language means something to us because it brings us things that we otherwise couldn’t have access to. That applies to your language learning mission, because you can enjoy the language during the journey, not as an end result. Even if you just want academic knowledge, you can still find new uses for your language in those contexts whilst you’re learning.

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