What’s the best resource to learn a new language?
How do you solve language questions by yourself?
How can you achieve the same results as you would by studying in a physical classroom?
Yes… the path to mastering a language by yourself can be winding, peppered with these challenges that test even the most resilient learners.
But… there are expert-recommended ways to eliminate these barriers and accelerate your progress like never before!
And we have them here for you..
What you must do to learn a language by yourself
1. Choose high-quality study materials
Since you are a student, this is a real challenge: choose quality learning resources, as a teacher would do.
Follow the steps:
- Start by sorting through language apps, courses, videos, and written materials to find what works, in an intuitive manner. Little by little you are going to give up some of them, and that’s ok.
- Be honest and, after testing a resource, decide if you’ll be motivated to go on using it. It must be able to offer structure to your study routine – help you to follow a path to learn fast and in a sequenced way.
- If at any point you find that a feature doesn’t motivate you, abandon it. It ‘s that simple.
- Please, don’t forget to find a good dictionary!
2. Look for pronunciation audios
This is to overcome the challenge of speaking like a native.
- Dive into the many Youtube resources to help on this, for free.
- When using these resources, repeat the exercises aloud, repeatedly!
- Using a text-to-voice app, paste a whole sentence in the target language and read it at the same time you hear the app saying it. This is the shadow technique excellent for achieving a native-like pronunciation!
Pronunciation resources like that provide valuable practice that may be lacking when studying independently (and even more if you are not immersed in the foreign language environment).
3. Seek out a language exchange app
Oh, the speaking practice… how difficult it is to have opportunities to speak in a new language, living in your own country!
Look for a native English speaker willing to dedicate some time to talk with you. That can be done in a variety of ways: on Skype, Zoom, or in apps like Speaky. Some of them have free of charge options!
Engaging in such conversations will provide you with valuable opportunities to practice your conversational English skills. They allow realistic speaking situations – the idea is keeping you motivated to continue learning!
5. Watch online videos in your new language
Staying motivated without external accountability can be difficult. Language learning requires consistency and dedication, and self-learners may struggle to maintain a regular study routine…
Try these proven suggestions:
- Watch Youtube videos – they will definitely keep you motivated, and is a strong trend nowadays; among them you will find documentaries, news, reports and comedies.
- In the case of movies, you can begin by using subtitles in your native language, and as you become more proficient, you can switch them off. However, avoid using translated subtitles.
- If you can’t understand the movie enough, it is better to watch the film in your native language first, and then you’ll find it easier to understand what’s being said in English. Little by little you are going to understand the movies better without this “trick”.
- Follow instagramers who are dedicated to language learning, such as @spainsays, @italianmatters and many others. These accounts often post quizzes and quick information to brush up your memory of vocabulary, besides fun live sessions!
- You can also follow some tiktokers for short lessons on specific topics on the new language you’re learning. However, have in mind that this digital resource uses most of all informal language, and offers very short and superficial content. If you want to master Japanese, @nathaliekitahara is a suggestion.
6. Replicate a language school-like structure
That’s really difficult: replacing a teacher’s job! Without a formal curriculum or teacher, it can be challenging to establish a structured learning path.
To follow what formal curriculum or teachers do this: divide your study time into four sections: listening exercises, grammar and writing exercises, and speaking exercises. Typically, all the structures used by teachers surround these four pillars.
Afterward, simply organize all the tips we are providing in this article into their respective sections!
7. Test yourself periodically
You don’t need a teacher to evaluate your proficiency: use language assessment tools or websites. It’s easy to find quizzes and progress trackers on the internet, and Duolingo and Babbel offer them as well.
Do that regularly – it’s extremely important and it will save you time. Besides, having a good mark and being approved in those quizzes will keep you motivated.
8. Sing songs in the target language
It’s impossible to find a learner who doesn’t like being able to sing songs in a new language! It’s a delightful way to absorb entire structures and new words in the new language!
You can sing pop songs and also traditional songs of other cultures too!
Students gain confidence quickly in speaking the new language with this method, so if you are still hesitating to speak fluently, that’s for you!
9. Read using your phone
Reading is precious for the evolution of language learning.
Reading is much easier with a cell phone:
- you can read anywhere: while you are commuting, waiting in the dentist’s office, or on your vacation.
- you can access not only books but also magazines and news.
- you can download them (so there is nothing to carry along!).
The trick that nobody tells you is: always read a book that is easy for you!
“”Easy means with a maximum of 2 new words per page.
If your current level is “advanced”, look for books in the “intermediate” level.
This way, you read quickly and will soon want to read another book. And the more books you read, the more your vocabulary will expand. By the way, if you read books before going to bed it’s the best time to store all new words and phrases! We are going to explain it just below, in this article.
If you already read well, all cultures have classic books – find out what they are, and you’ll love new ways of thinking. If you don’t read well yet, you may find books in simplified versions.
What happens to your brain when you learn a new language
The phenomenon of acquiring a new language as an adult is a real wonder!
And it doesn’t matter what your language proficiency level is: your brain changes its functioning (from the beginning of your learning process).
The introduction of novelty plays a crucial role in creating new neural connections in the brain and reinforcing the links within the nervous system.
How does your brain react when you decide to learn a new language?
At this moment, we are aware of the questions you have in mind
“Is my age important?”
“Are the differences between my native tongue and my target language important?”
“Are the resources I use to learn a new language important?”
No! None of these are important!
Learning a new language involves both novelty and practice. The brain loves novelty, and you will be practicing the new language (we hope!).
So, that’s the “secret” to reach proficiency in a new language, revealed by neuroscientists: this combination of novelty and practice.
What’s even better is that this process offers protective benefits against conditions such as dementia and other degenerative neurological disorders, especially in older learners.
How can you help your brain acquire a new language?
By the way… is it possible to accelerate the learning of a new language?
Oh, yeah! It is!
Language acquisition heavily relies on immersing oneself in real-life situations (besides practicing frequently).
Seek chances to dive into the target language, like we suggested above, or by traveling abroad. Through exposure to authentic conversational contexts, you will experience an enhancement in comprehension, speaking, and listening skills – we promise!
So… text, chat and connect with language exchange partners!
Instead of writing letters, take advantage of the ease of sending messages, participating in chats, and connecting with conversation partners through apps.
Texting or chatting in the language you want to improve ensures a stronger grasp of its structures and vocabulary, helping you master the language in its formal standard (or informal one, as you wish…).
If you resist trying having a pen-pal, look at this:
- Partners can help you with your writing (including grammar) more effectively than in conversation.
- Texting and typing in the target language is a task you can perform whenever you can, so you will be able to balance language learning with other responsibilities and commitments.
And you can check the grammar of your message before sending it using an online grammar checker – that’s good! The mere fact of checking the grammar is an excellent exercise for a learner!
Sending emails or letters by airmail is still a delightful and thrilling experience! Give it a try! In some online language exchange platforms you have this option (pen-pal).
Stay in touch with your conversation partner through this simple and efficient way, or occasionally invite them to catch up live and share the news in an app.
To sum up
Before reading this article on how to improve your language mastery by yourself (and quickly), you may not have realized the many ways to make it achievable.
So, now things look much better: practice a new language regularly, immerse yourself in it by finding a partner