The main reason that people give up on a goal is because they don’t remember it. I recall as a child writing down goals I wanted to accomplish for the upcoming year and sealing them in an envelope to be opened in 1 year. All I did was write down goals on a piece of paper and put them in an envelope. I forgot about the experience a few hours later and re-opened the envelope one year later. Do you think I did well on my goals? Nope, I really hadn’t done much to accomplish the goals I had written down one year earlier.
Recently I set a goal to wake up and stay up each morning when my alarm went off. It is especially difficult for me to wake up in the morning when it is cold outside and I am at a perfect temperature in my warm bed with blankets. In Utah, the best sleeping months of the year are upon us (November – February). To combat the comfort of my bed, I keep a spray bottle nearby and spray myself in the face each morning to wake up and stay up. The problem is that I usually don’t remember that the spray bottle is there. A friend told me that I should title the iPhone alarm as ‘spray yourself in the face’. I should set the alarm and place it underneath the spray bottle, which will force me to touch the bottle in order to stop the noise.
What does this have to do with learning a new language? Well, many of you have a goal to learn a new language. That is a great and noble goal. Many of you will get busy and forget that you made this goal. You won’t remember your goal. Plan time each day to work on your goals, and remember to remind yourself. If you can set up alarms and reminders on your cell phone, that is usually the best way to remind yourself. Remember to remember. Do you have any tips or ideas that have helped you remember?
Why can’t learning be fun? When I look back at my K-12 and college days, I think about a lot of sleepy, boring classes. At the same time, I think about some of the great things that I have learned and creative ways in which they have been taught. There have been plenty of fun games that have reinforced lessons learned.
I’m not saying that education is going to be a party all the time. Sometimes it’s going to be boring and you have to power through and do the best you can. Here at LearnALanguage.com we aim to keep you awake, alert, having fun and learning as much as possible. We don’t want you to be saying ‘how boring’ in Italian out loud when you are learning Italian. The Learning Lounge, Memory Machine and Lingo Dingo are fun games (we hope you think so too) that reinforce vocabulary and phrases you are learning.
If you don’t have a fun game to help you review what you are learning, give yourself fun rewards for being awesome to help motivate you to power through the learning process. In our office, some of my co-workers and I set goals to arrive to work at certain times of the day. Whoever arrived late the most this week had to listen to the Hannah Montana Pandora station for 1 hour at work and share it on their personal Facebook and Twitter pages. That lucky person was me.
The best way to learn a foreign language is to live where that language is spoken so that you are completely immersed in the language. That means that you speak and listen to your new language all day everyday. There is NO better way. When a language website or company tells you that they have the best way, understand that they’re saying that it’s the best way other than complete immersion.
Most people do not have the opportunity to be completely immersed in a new language by living in a foreign country. The good news is that there are other ways you can learn. Before I tell you about a few of those other ways, I’d like to tell you something important: For MOST people, language acquisition does not come easy, it requires hard work and consistency. With that in mind, here are some other ways that you can learn a new language besides complete immersion:
Audio-based programs. There are a number of audio-based language programs out there and these can be convenient for an on-the-go lifestyle. Simply make sure that the foreign language you are listening to is from a native speaker. You want to avoid the ‘foreigner’ accent as much as possible.
Reading material. If you know how to read in the foreign language, it can be very helpful to read as much as possible to amplify your vocabulary. For me, reading aloud was very helpful in improving my pronunciation and flow.
Writing exercises. Reading and writing exercises will help you improve your grammar and flow.
Speaking. Speak in the foreign language as often as you can. Read aloud. Video chat with native speakers of the foreign language you are studying. As much as possible, have face-to-face conversations. Your efforts will be appreciated, and often you will be able to help the other person work on English.
I recommend adding all of these learning components into your language-learning method; however, focus on speaking. Involve as many senses as possible in the learning process. If you can hear it, say it, feel it and write it, then you will likely remember it. What’s your favorite way to learn a new language? Please answer by commenting below.
Every organization needs to have a mission. This is the purpose, the overriding goal behind everything that we do. We here at LearnALanguage.com had a very long, intense discussion over what our mission would be. We think that you’ll be excited about this:
Our Mission: To make language-learning a convenient and social habit through modern technology.
Pretty simple, right? Let’s break it down together, just to see exactly why we’re here and what we’re doing.
Language-learning: We operate based on the assumption that everyone is interested in learning a second, third or fourth language (or ought to be so). The benefits are enormous and let’s face it – no one will ever regret learning another language. We all have our own reasons, and that’s good enough for us.
Convenient: We know that convenience is a major factor in how and when people are going to focus on learning. A big part of that is money. If you buy a language course (RosettaStone, Pimsleur, RocketSpanish, etc.), you’re going to be out about $300 (give or take). If you go with LearnALanguage.com instead, you’re going to spend……. $0 – doesn’t that feel good? We’re here when you need us, for free. We have a huge variety of topics and learning methods.
Social: When we say “social”, we mean that we want you to be excited enough about learning a language that you invite your friends and family. We’re making it easy to share these free lessons via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, StumbleUpon and many other ways. It just makes sense. If you like something, you share it. If you find yourself at a great party with free food, you call your friends so that they can enjoy the happiness too. Sharing is a great idea.
Making Learning a Habit: Let’s be honest: the only way to truly learn over a lifetime is to make learning a habit. We’re making it easy to come back on a regular basis. It doesn’t cost you anything, you’re actually learning, great games and activities to review – what’s not to love?
Modern Technology: LearnALanguage.com uses cutting-edge technology to make sure that we offer you the best learning experience possible. Our future plans are enormous and we’re excited to unveil them soon. We know that our fans are going to be happy with all of the new things that we will soon be offering, all for free. We believe that we all benefit and learn most effectively by harnessing modern technology.
We love our fans, and we’re excited to introduce you to the future of language-learning.
When I first began learning Spanish, it was important for me to consistently review and reinforce what I was learning. In fact, that is still very important today and will be forever. I reviewed reading, computer and audio materials and would take notes of a few concepts I was learning and glance at them throughout the day. Before smartphones, I used index cards for review. Now I do virtually everything on my PC or my iPhone.
I recently had a need for a flash cards app and away I went to the app store. In my research, one particular website about flashcards apps was very useful. I suggest you visit flashcardapps.info to view information about 167 flashcard apps for the iPhone and iPad.
That website owner gives a few features you need to consider when trying to find the best flash card app for you:
Ability to download ready-made cards from Quizlet, Study Stack, Flashcard Exchange or the ProVoc library
Ability to share stacks over wi-fi, bluetooth or email
Import and export spreadsheets and textfiles
Ability to track and change your flash card stacks
Sync across multiple devices
Sounds, images, text-to-speech
After looking over many of them, these are 3 of my favorites (the links will open in iTunes):
What does Friday mean to me? It means that the weekend is only a few hours away and that it’s time to give my brain a well-deserved break. Learning a language is important, and we’ve all been working hard. We deserve a break – check out this video from Mr Jake Beus of LearnALanguage.com and have yourself a good laugh to start off the weekend:
What gets you motivated? What gets you super-pumped and excited? What events cause celebration in your life? Take a moment and really think about those questions. It may even be helpful to write down your answers. I’d like to take a moment and answer those question for myself, and together I hope we can learn how to turn motivation into celebration.
What gets you motivated? For me, the answer to that question depends on what the goal is. In my life, I usually see or experience something that motivates me and gives me the desire to set a goal and achieve it. For example, I have seen a healthy transformation in my father. For years, he could not sleep in a bed because he would get heartburn every night due to his diet and lack of exercise. He has completely changed his diet, eats much healthier and does his best to avoid eating late at night. He also spends more time exercising than he used to. He has lost weight, feels better and is happier because of this change. His discipline has motivated me to eat healthier, exercise more and be more disciplined in general.
I have also been motivated by others and their desire and commitment to learning, whether it be learning a new language, learning how to wake board or learning how to make homemade pizza. People in my life who are consistently learning seem to live more fulfilling lives. There is a certain excitement that comes from learning from life’s experiences, whether they be your own or someone else’s.
What gets you super-pumped and excited? I have a little brother who is talented in basketball and football, and I get excited watching him score touchdowns, make tackles and swish 3-pointers. I get excited when great things happen to the people close to me, whether it’s a buddy of mine who meets a great girl or someone does well on a test. I get excited when things go right for me, whether it’s finding a solution to a problem or just being blessed with unique opportunities. There are lots of things that make me super-pumped.
What events cause celebration in your life? This question is very similar to the previous question, but there is also a difference. For me, the difference is that excitement can be random and celebration usually is a result of hard work. That being said, here are 2 quotes that I really like regarding celebration:
“Remember to celebrate with others those things you have accomplished together. Celebration creates unity and strengthens relationships.”
“Celebrate every small victory.”
I am a celebrator. I think that people don’t celebrate enough, and perhaps I celebrate too much. If I want to be a millionaire, am I only going to celebrate as soon as I make that first million? No. My philosophy is to celebrate the little things that will ultimately help you achieve your goal. Celebration and motivation are closely tied. Celebrating the small things has helped me to enjoy the journey and stay motivated to keep working toward goals.
How to turn motivation into celebration: The simple answer is hard work. For me, it’s a cycle of never-ending fun and excitement. This cycle begins as motivation, which translates into hard work, which leads to multiple, small celebrations, which keeps me motivated, which keeps me working, which leads to more celebration. I met a professor at a prestigious university who taught me that when working toward a goal, I should plan, do, evaluate and learn; then plan, do evaluate and learn. I would add celebrate into that cycle of progression, which will ultimately help me to continue the cycle of progression.
One of my favorite movies is Rudy. If you’ve never seen the movie, I highly encourage you to watch it. This is the final scene of Rudy, which is a celebration of a great moment that is a result of years of hard work. It’s obviously a dramatic celebration, but think about how you might celebrate more as you watch it. Enjoy:
What is something you should be celebrating in your life? Please login and comment below. I’m gonna go celebrate the completion of this post.
One great way to immerse yourself in a new language is by watching TV or movies in that language. If movies are your choice, you should consider picking from the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award winners. Every year since 1956 non-English films that are made outside the United States are nominated for the award.
These nominations and awards make a great resource when looking for the best foreign language films. The winner at the 2012 Academy Awards was “A Separation” directed by Asghar Farhadi. The film is in Persian and marks Iran’s first win since the award began. Some other notable nominees from this year included “Bullhead” in Dutch, French and Limburgish; “Footnote” in Hebrew; “In Darkness” in Polish, German, Yiddish and Ukrainian; and “Monsieur Lazhar” in French.
Yes, speaking is the best way to learn, but watching a foreign movie will definitely help you learn, understand, and love a new language. Know any more great foreign films? Let us know in the comment section.
Do you know who Ioannis Ikonomou is? I didn’t either – that is, until I ran across an article about one of the smartest living human beings. Most of us would consider speaking a second language as a great feat. A third language? Incredible. A fourth language? Impossible. Not Ioannis Ikonomou. This 46-year old Greece-born, world-citizen “feels comfortable” speaking and communicating in 32 languages. That’s not a typo – 32 (as in thirty-two).
As a native Grecian, his mother-tongue is Greek. He began learning English when he was 6 years old. After English came German… Then Russian… Italian… Turkish… Arabic… And so the story goes. Ioannis is now employed as the only in-house translator for the European Commission of the United Nations. He spends about half the year in Beijing, China as a representative of the European Commission.
What does this mean for the rest of us? Are we to find the story of Ioannis as encouraging or discouraging? I say that we ought to be encouraged, and here is why:
Mr Ikonomou is amazing, but he is still a human being. If he is capable of learning 32 languages, shouldn’t I be capable of learning at the very least, a second language, and maybe even a third?
His second language started when he was 6. He is now 46. That means 40 years of dedicated language-learning. What’s my point? My point is that this isn’t a race. You don’t have a deadline for learning that language that you’ve been working on (unless you’re moving to Costa Rica at the end of the month – odds are, you aren’t).
“There’s really no hard or easy language to learn,” he says. “Anyone can learn a language if they fall in love with it.” He goes on through-out the article explaining that his single greatest key to success is falling in love with the language. That makes sense. Everything from using it daily, learning the culture, eating the food, watching TV and reading in that language, and eventually dreaming in it.
It’s possible – as long as we fall in love with it. I completely agree. I’m bilingual and working on my third – the periods of the greatest success come at times when I’m genuinely interested in the language itself, not just in learning the language.
This blog is hosted by LearnALanguage.com– a site that is dedicated to helping people from all around the world learn languages, all for free. The learning material is here, but that’s not everything that you need. My challenge to you, is to dive in and don’t just learn the language, learn about the language. If you’re learning Russian, do some research on Russia: the weather and seasons, the culture, the food – you can even download a recipe and try it at home. If you’re learning Spanish, study the several countries where Spanish is spoken and find out about the people who use these languages.
Learning about the language and those who use it will help us to become better learners of the language itself.
It turns out that 21 days really is a long time, but we can get around that. Believe it or not, we are constantly going through the full 21 day-cycle to start new habits – The only problem is that these habits aren’t always the ones that we want to be starting. It seems that bad habits are easy to start and easy to feed, but the good habits are hard to grow (just like flowers & vegetables take a herculean effort and grandmotherly patience, but weeds grow for free…).
After scouring the web for legitimate advice on growing the good habits (the flowers) and plucking up the bad ones (the weeds), it’s easy to see that there’s a lot of great stuff out there, especially related to learning a foreign language. The following keys will help you become a more successful habit-maker:
Remember that when we remove a bad habit from our life, there is a void – an empty, blank space. This could be an emotional space, or simply a free time-slot. Think of it as the dirt that is now available once you’ve plucked a weed. To ensure that another weed doesn’t pop up in its place, you have to plant a flower. Example: Every day after work, Bob goes home, plops down on the couch and numbs his mind with TV for the next several hours. FIX: As soon as Bob get home, he laces up the ol’ running shoes and goes for a 20-30 minute jog. Your goal is to replace one bad habit with one good habit.
Use a system to remind yourself of habits that you’ve started and ongoing goals that need some attention. A perfect example is Mindbloom. This is a free website that helps you be a better you – It keeps track of goals and habits with reminders, motivation and rewards. You can join a community who is as ambitious as you are (or as ambitious as you’d like to be). Everyone here at LearnALanguage.com uses Mindbloom on a daily basis and is encouraged to be creative, motivated and ambitious.
Good habits are hard to keep, even after the 21-Day creation period. The truth is, in order to keep your good habits, you must have your motivation behind them. The motivation is different for each person, and that’s how it should be. Decide for yourself why you are going to learn a foreign language, lose 10 pounds, read 1 book per month, comb your hair, be on time, Facebook less, smile more and be happier. Once you know the why, it will be easier to keep it up, even after Day 21.
This is only a small taste of the Psychology of Habit-Making. The rest is up to you.
My industry is all about foreign language learning, so it makes sense that I extend an invitation to you: Begin Learning Today. Start with a habit that will bring countless benefits for years to come, all for free. As always, we welcome your comments and feedback.