|Consistent hard work is one of the biggest factors that determines someone's success, and it's true for language learning too.
|While it's important to choose a course and study method that's right for you, at the end of the day, the results you see are a product of the effort you put in.
|However the quantity of time spent studying a new language doesn’t necessarily determine the quality of your study. Spending three hours a day watching movies doesn’t help you learn much if you’re not actively engaging with the language.
|In this video we’ll talk about how to actively engage your mind while studying
|1. Think of your brain as a muscle
|You might be familiar with the phrase “feel the burn" or maybe “no pain no gain.” If you’ve been to your local gym recently, there’s a chance you might have heard one of these phrases, or seen something similar on a poster on a wall.
|In the world of sports and workouts, there's a common idea that the discomfort you feel (when running, lifting weights, or doing some other physical activity) is what brings results. The discomfort you feel is your muscles being pushed to their limit. It’s the limit pushing that strengthens your muscles so that over time, your performance increases. In the context of language learning, it’s helpful to think of your brain as a muscle being trained.
|Just as we need to push against our physical limits when exercising, we also need to push our mental ones when learning a foreign language. Have you ever studied or practiced your target language in a way that left you tired or even exhausted? If so, you’ve experienced what it’s like to push your brain out of its linguistic comfort zone.
|2. Practice active listening
|One of the easiest ways to push your language skills is to practice active listening.
|“Active listening” is when you listen to spoken language and do your best to understand what you hear. The best way to accomplish this is by using audio that you can’t completely understand on the first listen. Preferably, you want to use audio that has subtitles or transcripts in your target language for you to double check your understanding after you listen to it. You can use movies, youtube clips, or our lessons.
|During this exercise, you might feel like you're able to pick out only a few words here and there. During this practice session, you should listen to the audio several times. The first time around, it’s okay if no words or just a few words stick out to you. Simply make a mental note of any words or sounds you recognize. The second time you listen, you’re likely to recognize a little more than you did the previous time. Expect similar results with your third or even fourth time listening.
|When you reach a point where you can't understand any more words, go ahead and look at the subtitles or transcripts. Listen to the audio again and read along with the text. Odds are that you’ll see words in the text you know but didn’t hear correctly. You’re also likely to encounter words that are new to you completely. As you play back the audio and read along, try to guess what these words mean from the context of the words around them.
|After you’ve read along a couple of times, look up the unfamiliar words in a dictionary or translator app. This active listening exercise routine is a great way to increase your listening and comprehension skills (while picking up some new vocabulary along the way). It also allows you to learn new words in context, which itself is a powerful way to help you retain what you studied.
|3. Practicing with native speakers
|Practicing with native speakers is the best way to push your language skills. Using what you've studied to communicate in real time is how you'll really challenge yourself. Try to connect with a native speaker on a weekly basis. Remember, consistency is important when you’re learning a foreign language.
|If you live in a large metropolitan area, then there’s a chance that there are some local native speakers nearby. Try visiting a local language exchange or meetup group to make the necessary connections. If you’re unable to find a practice partner locally, then you can take your search online. There are a number of sites that help you find and connect with other language learners from around the world. For example, if you’re a native English speaker learning a new language, you can find a native speaker of your target language who is learning English.
|There are tons of language learners around the world who have learned or are learning a second language. You’re likely to find someone who knows your target language and is looking to improve his or her English.
|Learning a new language isn’t always easy, but it’s the discomfort that comes with pushing your ability in the language that produces results in your studies. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. It's okay to move far outside of your native language! You'll expand your mind and your skills.
|Also, remember that language learning is in every way, a lot like an adventure. There will be fun times and times when it feels like you’re swimming upstream. It’s by keeping your head up through these ups and downs that you will experience the satisfaction that comes with learning a foreign language. Keep moving ahead!
|And for even more tips on how to engage better in your language learning, check out our complete language learning program. Sign up for your free lifetime account by clicking on the link in the description. Get tons of resources to have you speaking in your target language. And if you enjoyed these tips, hit the "like" button, share the video with anyone who's trying to learn a new language, and subscribe to our channel. We release new videos every week! I'll see you next time. Bye!