7 Language habits you need to form
I wanted to call this seven habits of highly effective language learners, which is equally true, but does not convey the urgency I wanted. The fact is, like many things in life, learning a language properly is hard work, and requires time and effort. Like anything that’s hard, it becomes easy if you make it a habit, like brushing your teeth. If you can form the following language learning habits, you can easily double the effectiveness of your study. Hopefully, learning Spanish will become a lot easier and more enjoyable.
Notice what you don’t know
This applies more to production than reception. When you speak or write, take a mental note any time you come across a stumbling block (or better yet, a real note).
This might be a word or phrase, or certain area of grammar you weren’t quite sure about. When you get a chance, look it up, and fill in that gap of knowledge.
Do any memorisation just before you go to bed
Our brains process information as we sleep. This should be pure memorisation, not trying to work out grammar points or anything overly difficult. I find vocabulary works best – so go through your flashcards/list last thing each day when you’re in bed, and I guarantee you’ll retain it far better.
Do things in Spanish before English
Tough one this one. Notice what habits you have each day – papers you read, music you listen to, news you watch, etc. Try and switch this to Spanish. If you check the headlines each day, try it in Spanish before English – try and get into Spanish music, and listen to that for half an hour each day. It seems like it won’t make a difference, but the sum of all of these little changes can hugely affect your language learning in a positive way.
Take advantage of the small gaps in the day to learn
We are a time-poor people. However, we have loads of mini breaks during our day that we could take better advantage of. This could literally be 30 seconds in the lift when you check a couple of verb conjugations, or it might be twenty minutes at lunch when you could flick through a Spanish book. Find the little gaps in your day, and try to fill them with Spanish!
Use it every day
Not exactly a specific habit as such, but try to incorporate some kind of Spanish into your day, every day. Persistence really is key in language learning, and this way you can send a clear message to your language learning brain that you mean business.
Get out there and COMMUNICATE
The Spanish language does not live in your text book, and verb conjugations were not invented as a ploy to torment you. Real people use this language every day as their means of communication, so see it as a vehicle for communication rather than abstract exercises. This means talking to people, interacting, and communicating. Get out there!
Give yourself tangible goals to aim towards
You should be able to tick a box when you have achieved a goal – it should be unequivocal, with no possible doubt about what you need to do to achieve it. Let’s take a few examples of some poor goals, and then see how they have been improved so that they can be unequivocally scored:
Poor goal: Be able to converse with people
Better goal: Record a half hour conversation with someone
Poor goal: Improve and expand vocabulary
Better goal: Learn 50 words a week, for two months
Poor goal: Read more
Better goal: To have read and understood x pages per week.
Hopefully this has given you a few ideas for ways to habitualise your learning. Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments below!
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