Tips for Language Learning on One’s Own


Have a goal. You feel you want to start learning a language or improve one you learned but fear you can’t remember. However if you just fancy learning a language without really knowing why, your enthusiasm will probably soon disappear. Learning a language is not very hard but it takes a little time.There are all sorts of good reasons to learn a language: a trip abroad, a book you want to read or a series you want to watch in the original version, family history you want to investigate… What is yours?

Find your own method. Remember how the way you revised for exams was different from the way your friends did, this still holds true. Try to imagine yourself working – with a book, on the computer, with your mp3 player – and find a method that suits your style.

Search the Internet. Whatever the method you have settled on, do some research before you spend your money. You will need to know the strong and weak points of the method you have set your eyes upon. Read what other people think of a language book on online bookstores and search inside the book if you can, visit the local university bookseller and talk with the shop assistants, type key words and see what people have written on forums. Some websites have a few free lessons before you are asked to pay, try them.

Take advantage of free language learning tools. There are lots of them on the web. They may not all be great but they are free. Here is a short list.

Set a specific time for your lessons. Don’t think you will work when you have the time, you may never start. Ten minutes a day is easier to find and much more effective than an hour once a week. Set this time for yourself and keep to it.

Get a dictionary. Whether you prefer a paper version or a smart phone app (some are quite cheap and good), you need a dictionary. You may also find it useful to have a small notepad where you write the vocabulary you acquire and which you can use as a revising tool every now and again.

Vary the sources. Once you start making progress, try to broaden the way you learn by incorporating authentic documents in your learning process. Follow a recipe in your target language, watch movies, read articles online, play vocabulary games…

Good luck!

20 thoughts on “Tips for Language Learning on One’s Own

  1. Excellent tips! A number of my son’s Israeli friends improved their English significantly by watching English-language movies and TV shows with Hebrew subtitles.

    • I have just found that once you have reached a certain level, you can even watch the film with both the sound track and the subtitles in the target language. Two different ways of fixing words.

    • Yes and no. I have gone back to learning Swedish. After the exchange I picked up the book I had previously used and have managed to go through 41 lessons so far. I have also added other documents to get variety and authenticity.
      My progress have made me bold enough to think I could read recipes in Danish (which is very similar to Swedish) so this morning I ordered a cookery book in Danish on a Danish website.

  2. These all sound like good tips.

    Other things I’ve tried – I taped the Arabic names for things to all sorts of things in my house. Also my bathroom literature consists of a basket of assorted Arabic books and magazines as well as an Arabic-Hebrew dictionary. A phrase here, a word there – it all adds up!

    • I have thought of labeling the items in my pantry in three or four languages but have not come round to it yet. The magazines sound like a good idea too.
      Thanks for the tips!

  3. What fantastic tips! They could apply to almost any area of learning, such as photography, writing, genealogy, etc.

    Labeling in-house helped me while learning basic Italian.

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