Monday, August 14, 2017

Self-Studying Foreign Languages: Dos and Don’ts by Richard Nolan

Most people find learning a new language a bit of an impossible task. While it’s true that being able to grasp a foreign language may pose a challenge, it's not necessarily an impossible task. You can do it all by yourself. With the right resources, self-study may actually be just what you need to learn a foreign language.

So, what can you do to learn a new language? Here's a list of a few do's and don’ts.


1. Remember that Learning Is an Ongoing Process

Students have always had a problem recognizing that learning is an ongoing process since classes are usually finite. Self-study can help avoid such a scenario. When we decide to learn all by ourselves, there is no start date and end date. This means you have to be alert at all times!

There are many ways to learn apart from just reading books. You can listen to audio lessons, watch a movie in the foreign language or just interact with fluent speakers of the language!

You could be at a local restaurant, taking the bus, watching a movie or going to concerts or sporting events and still learn a thing or two. Carry a small note book around, where you can be writing down new vocabulary learned or challenges experienced.

2. Use Native Speakers

Native speakers are one of the most important resources when self-studying. They can be better than getting lessons from a teacher in a classroom. Native speakers are often more at ease with the language and they know the vocabulary and grammar better.

You can even be able to get the proper pronunciations and intonation of words and phrases. Talking and listening to native speakers broadens your understanding of the foreign language you are trying to master.

3. Exposure

When it comes to learning anything new, including a new language, exposing yourself is of great significance. While learning a foreign dialect, exposure comes in a number of ways, you just have to find what works for you. Here are some of the ways you can get more exposure to a language:

  • Watching movies and soap operas.
  • Listening to music and live radio.
  • Reading novels, newspapers, magazines or journals.
  • Going to concerts or sports events like a soccer game.
  • Restaurants are a great learning experience, too. In addition to all the good food you get to eat, you can learn through listening to people talk and ordering in the language that you’re trying to learn.
  • Podcasts and internet videos.

4. Practice

"Practice makes perfect" may sound like a bit of a cliché. However, we've all come across it and for a good reason. Perfection and success, in general, don't come easy in life. We need to put the effort in terms of practice in whatever we desire to achieve. Self-study makes practice obligatory.

Understanding a foreign language takes hours of practice through reading and writing. You can write dialogues, read or write essays with a focus on persuasive essay topics. The list of things that you can do for practice is limitless. It’s up to you to fully immerse yourself into your learning and find what practice avenue works in your favor. 

5. Have Fun

Whenever I decide to undertake any venture, one of the things I look at is the happiness factor, and I must say it has done a great deal for me. Have fun while learning, it makes the learning process easier and can make you successful. Nothing is worth doing if you’re not enjoying yourself. When something doesn't give you joy, what's the point in doing it? Enjoy your self-study - it makes all the effort you are putting in worth it!

6. Use Online Resources

The internet provides a number of platforms where you can learn a new language. You can find a native speaker from the country where the language you're trying to learn is spoken and communicate with them regularly. Learning a bit of their culture makes you better understand the language. Take advantage of YouTube videos and podcasts.


1. Get Comfortable

Once we’ve mastered a foreign language, most of us tend to get comfortable. The problem with this is that there's  a likelihood we may forget things. Self-study is a great way to avoid getting into that trap. Refresh your skills from time to time through reading, speaking, and writing.

2. Think Listening To a Native Speaker Isn’t Entirely the Solution

Native speakers are great but don't assume that just by listening to them automatically makes you fluent in a language. A lot of people fail because they thought having a native speaker guide them is all they needed.

3. Get Stressed Out

From my personal experience, working under favorable conditions makes us more efficient. Don't study if you're feeling tired or stressed out. The chances are you may not learn as much as you intended. It can also make the whole process too complicated. Write down your schedule and find a time of the day when you’re rested and are most likely to be efficient.


Learning a foreign language was previously a bit of a challenge since resources were limited. However, this has changed tremendously over the years. Right now, self-study is a great way to master a new language.

All it takes is finding the right resources to use, though there are things that one must be careful not do in the process as they may hinder the learning process. With self-study, you go at your own pace and can get more involved. Don't forget to have fun!

Richard Nolan is a writer and a private tutor, sharing his experience in spheres of  writing, blogging, entrepreneurship and psychology. Richard writes for numerous blogs and gives useful tips for bloggers and students. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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