Supercharge Your Language Learning

supercharge your language learning
Many of us (me included) have tried and failed to learn a language successfully. I always assumed that I just wasn’t suited to language learning and that’s OK as no one is good at everything right?

Em… no! That is not entirely true. Absolutely anyone can learn a language. After all, you have already done it at least once already! It is far more likely that whatever you were studying just wasn’t suited to your learning style.

If any of these statements are true then this post is definitely for you.

“I am just starting in a language and I have no idea how to begin”

“I tried a single resource for a while but I just couldn’t get it”

“I’ve amassed a huge number of resources and never know what to study next”

Still here? Good! Let me explain a little and then we will get on to the stuff that really matters.

The 80 / 20 rule

If you have never heard of this before, the principle is simple. In the case of your language learning, 80% of your learning comes from 20% of your effort.

So why not just focus on the 20%?

The short answer is that you can’t, it doesn’t mean that 80% of what you did was redundant. The 20% could be made up from part of a video you watched, some of an article you read, a little of a podcast you listened to and so on.

We can however improve on that statistic and give your language learning a huge boost.

The secret to supercharging your language learning is identifying what type of learner you are. This tells you where to focus more of your attention.

This doesn’t mean you should immediately ignore all other resources but by shifting your focus a little, you could see huge improvements.

So, what type of learner are you?

Finding out is really simple and all have to do is answer a few simple questions.

Ready?

OK, here goes:

  1. You just received a new PIN number for you ATM card. To memorize it, do you
    a, Say it out loud over and over until you get it
    b, Read it over and over
    c, Pretend you are typing it into an imaginary keypad
  2. You are more likely to remember someone’s
    a, Name
    b, Face
    c, Hug
  3. When reading a long passage, you find it:
    a, OK, you are getting through it with your music on
    b, Relaxing
    c, Boring, you’d rather be outside doing something
  4. When you trying to spell a word, you often
    a, Say it out loud and sound it out a few times
    b, Write it down to see if it looks right
    c, Trace it in the air
  5. You feel that you remember better when
    a, You say things out loud
    b, You see a demonstration
    c, You get to be hands on and do it yourself

OK, I think that’s enough for now. So, what type of language learner are you?

If you answered mostly a, then you are an Auditory learner
If you answered mostly b, then you are a Visual learner
And if you answered mostly c, then you are a Kinesthetic learner

Don’t worry if you don’t have a clear majority, it is possible to fall in to more than one group.

So what does this mean and how can you use it to boost your language learning?

Auditory Learner

If you are an Auditory learner then you learn more by listening.

You can boost your learning by:

  • Listening to MP3s and Podcasts.
  • When reading (which you will still have to do), read out loud.
  • Better yet, when you read out loud, record yourself and listen to it again later.
  • Get friends and family to quiz you.
  • If you have to study quietly, you can still benefit from listening to soft music as you do.

Visual Learner

If you are a Visual learner then you learn more by seeing.

You can boost your learning by:

  • Watching videos and demonstrations.
  • Use flash cards.
  • Create flow diagrams or mind maps of language.
  • Try to visualise things you are told.
  • Take notes and color code them.

Kinesthetic Learner

If you are a Kinesthetic Learner then you learn more by doing.

You can boost your learning by:

  • Walking / pacing while reading something you find boring.
  • Use flashcards to learn but spend some time arranging them by topic.
  • Use apps and games for learning vocabulary.
  • Write or type things out to aid your memory.
  • Find puzzles and quizzes to reinforce learning.

What Next?

If you are already learning then don’t throw out all the materials you have, just slowly introduce some new ones. If you are just starting then try to find a few of the above and get started.

If you are using the Language Learning Library for materials then be sure to use the “Media Type” filters to find the specific resource type you are looking for.

Don’t forget to speak

Speaking your target language hasn’t really factored in to the above lists, this is because I firmly believe that everyone should be doing this regularly. It is the fastest way to progress no matter which type of language learner you are.

If you don’t feel confident enough to speak yet, you should check out this blog post:

Overcome fear and speak a foreign language

Let me know what type of language learner you are in the comments below, have you tried any of the suggestions? If so, let me know how you got on!