15 Ways Language Learners Can Work Smarter, Not Harder

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You want to study abroad?

You want to travel around the world?

You want a better job with a higher salary?

Well, I guess you’ll have to focus on language learning.

A second language opens many doors to your future. It’s no wonder why so many people of all language are trying hard to achieve fluency levels in a foreign language.

Can trying too hard be a problem?

It can be if you’re not approaching the learning process in a smart way! In that case all the hard work won’t deliver the results you expect.

Why don’t you focus on smart instead of hard language learning? We’ll list 15 effective ways to do that.

1. Write!

Learning grammar lessons and new words all the time can get boring. That’s hard work and you should be going through it.

However, you can spice it up with something smart – an activity that combines grammar and vocabulary without exhausting you.

That’s freewriting!

Write something every day. That’s the best way to implement everything you learn into practice.

So what exactly should you write?

Whatever you want!

You can start your private Penzu diary, so you’ll write about your day, using the language you’re learning. If you’re ready to share the language skills you’ve got, you can also start blogging.

2. Make Language Learning a Priority

If you make language learning a side activity, it won’t have your full attention.

You might focus on hard-working sessions every now and then, but they won’t have an effect if they are not consistent.

You have to be consistent!

Focusing on the foreign language for 20 minutes every day is better than a 2-hour learning session once a week.

To achieve consistency, you have to make this goal a priority.

Include it in your daily schedule and you’ll slowly turn it into a habit.

3. Don’t Let Anyone Disturb You

Maybe your partner will make you feel guilty about not spending enough time with them.

Your mom will decide to call right when you’re about to start learning.

Your friend will want to grab a cup of coffee with you during the time you scheduled for learning.

Don’t let people take this time away from you.

Remember: language learning is a priority. You’ll have time for them when you’re done with this daily task.

4. Take Breaks

If you decide to focus on longer sessions of learning, it’s important to have short breaks in between.

If, for example, you plan a 2-hour learning session for today, break it up in 30-minute sections. You’ll be working for 25 minutes, and you’ll be taking a 5-minute break after a learning session.

The short breaks will minimize eye fatigue. They will give you time for a side activity, so you’ll get back to work with full focus.

5. Learn How to Handle the Distractions of Email and Social Media

You get ready for language learning and you access all the right websites on your laptop or tablet.

Suddenly, you get the idea to check the email or see what’s going on Twitter. “It will take just 5 minutes,” – you say to yourself.

Later on, you realize it’s been half an hour and you’re still scrolling through Instagram. That’s not what we call smart learning.

You have to focus!

These distractions are disturbing your focus, so do not access them during a learning session.

Use a distraction-blocking browser extension such as StayFocusd, so you won’t end up on social media even if you feel the urge to check the news.

6. Make Language Learning Part of Your Good Habits

Much of what we do each day is a ritual.

We sleep. We wake up and clean up. We have the morning coffee and we get ready for the day.

We don’t skip these activities because they’ve become habits.

When we treat language learning as a ritual, it will become the most natural thing to do every day.

Plan your day around rituals. Cleaning up, exercise, coffee, language learning… every ritual should have its place in your daily schedule.

When you repeatedly stick to this ritual, you’ll come to a point when it demands less effort.

7. Pay Attention to Your Progress

When you realize that you’ve made progress, you’ll be more inspired to keep learning!

Make self-evaluation a regular part of the language learning process.

Ask yourself:

  • what aspects of your fluency have you improved?
  • What activities worked well?
  • What demands more work?

Check the entries of your writing practice. They are a proof of the progress you’ve made.

If you feel uninspired to learn something new today, you’ll get the motivation you need when you see this progress.

8. Make a Plan

Proper time management is an essential skill that makes you a smart language learner.

Use a normal pen-and-paper planner, which will help you organize your day. If you prefer using a time-management app, choose your favorite one and use it every day!

You should plan how you’ll spend the next day before you go to bed. That will inspire you to get up early and focus on completing all activities.

You may have a lot going on in your life. School or work is already taking too much of your time.

If you don’t make a plan, the responsibilities of the day ahead will overwhelm you.

The plan itself will calm you down. It will make you realize that there’s plenty of space to fit language learning in between.

9. Share Your Journey!

You may turn language learning into a project of greater importance if you share the progress you make.

Start a blog!

You can write in your native language at first, so you’ll just inform the audience about the progress you’re making.

With time, you can turn this blog into a knowledge base. You’ll share lessons and tips that will help other learners.

The community will give you a push.

You’ll be getting comments of constructive criticism.

They will help you get more efficient on this journey.

10. Keep Your Eye on the Goal

Learning a foreign language is a big deal!

It’s a process that requires constant determination. It’s really a life-long journey.

Many people start and give up somewhere along the way. That’s because they forget where the initial inspiration came from.

Why did you want to learn this language in the first place?

Is it because you want to travel to a specific country? Maybe you want to get a better job that requires this foreign language?

Whatever the goal was, keep reminding yourself of it. Stay focused on that main goal, and keep going!

11. Connect With Other Learners

If you’re trying to learn French, for example, search for a private Facebook group for French language learners.

Whatever language you’re trying to learn, you can find a Facebook group devoted on it. Join the group!

When you connect with other learners, you’ll inspire each other to learn more effectively.

12. Connect With Native Speakers

Immersion is necessary for becoming fluent!

You need to immerse yourself in the natural environment of the language.

If you’re not able to travel, it’s still possible to get immersed! You just need to connect with native speakers online.

HelloTalk is a great platform that connects you with native speakers of various languages.

13. Be Resourceful

What are the best online resources that can help you learn this language?

Is it an app you’re going to use on a daily basis? Is it another learner’s blog that helps you overcome different obstacles? Is it a website committed to general language learning? Maybe it’s a book that helps you turn this activity into a habit?

Be resourceful! Find the resources that can help you learn in a smarter way and use them every day!

14. Focus on Solutions

Each language learner has some kind of problem.

Some have troubles speaking. They can write well, but the pronunciation is a struggle.

Others are rather good at speaking, but they cannot write well. They struggle with proper grammar and syntax.

Some language learners cannot remember the new words. They haven’t found a system for making associations, so they simply can’t memorize.

Whatever your problem is, you shouldn’t focus on it. You should acknowledge it, but you should focus on solutions.

If you’re not a great speaker, focus more on listening and you’ll soon start speaking with a more natural accent.

If you’re not great at writing, practice more. Just focus on the solution!

15. Make Listening Part of Your Daily Routine!

Language learners often focus on studying, writing, and speaking.

They forget one important thing: listening. It’s the exact thing that makes you a smart learner.

Listen to pop music in the language you’re learning.

Watch a TV show, so you can hear native speakers speak.

Follow YouTube channels of native speakers, so you’ll get used to the natural speed of speech.

With more listening, the flow of the language will become more natural to you. You’ll improve your speaking skills, too!

Conclusion

It’s time to shift your focus from hard to smart language learning!

It’s possible to be a more efficient learner even if you invest less time in the process.

You just need the right method.

The 15 tips above will help you develop your own language learning method.

It will work!

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8 comments

  1. Hi Brandon,

    I like your article, the ways you talk about. I use and I used all these ways. In the meantime I try a new way, using sleep to increase my vocabulary and improve my accent. I learn the vocabulary (from a story, an audiobooks) during the day or just before going to bed and I re-listen to it once I am in my bed beginning to sleep, I have noticed that it works well.
    https://fastfrenchlearning.ch/how-to-use-sleep-to-improve-learning/

    Thomas Ricomard
    Fast french Learning

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