09 November 2022

What Should I Learn First When Learning a Language?

Someone learning a language with a child

Want to learn a new language but don’t know where to start? Our language specialists are here to help by answering the question: what should I learn first when learning a language?

Even if you’re eager and motivated to try, language learning can be a challenging objective when you’re just getting started. That is largely due to the fact that “effectively learning a language” does not—and shouldn’t—look the same for everyone.

Another reason is that it takes a lot of smaller, more manageable steps until development feels attainable. It takes a lot of work to become conversational in a new language. There are a few strong basic steps you’ll want to take initially if you’re just starting out and are unsure of how to start learning a foreign language. Most importantly, enjoy it!

9 key language learning first steps

  • Define goals and motivation for learning your chosen target language

Many first-time students undervalue the significance of being very clear about their goals and motivations. Why someone would wish to learn a new language is obvious, right?

Actually, though, it’s not so obvious! There are many different reasons why people learn foreign languages, and those reasons may also influence what constitutes a successful level of fluency for you. Furthermore, the idea of achieving “perfect fluency” is sometimes unattainable, which is why so many students become disheartened and give up on learning more than one language.

When the unavoidable learning plateau does occur, having defined goals and reasons from the beginning of your trip will help you get through it.

  • Start simple: learn the alphabet of your chosen foreign language

Fortunately, the alphabet will be the same or extremely similar to the one you already know in many languages. Try to identify any special characters or accented letters that you are unfamiliar with if the alphabets are similar.

If there are new letters in the alphabet, spend some time getting acquainted with them. A big first step is learning the alphabet, which may be accomplished rapidly in many languages.

  • Learn common words and phrases

Some research suggests that native speakers are familiar with between 15,000 and 20,000 word families. They refer to a root term and all of its variations by this. Talk, speaking, spoken, etc. are some examples.

These studies imply that you can learn to speak a language rapidly and proficiently by memorising the 800 to 1,000 most prevalent root words and their variations.

So, when trying to figure out how to learn a language, acquiring some basic vocabulary of key words is a good place to start.

This can help you fast increase your comprehension in day-to-day situations, enabling you to carry on simple discussions and follow along.

  • Pronunciation

Learning how to pronounce the language’s most frequent sounds should be the next step. Even though the letters may look fairly similar, the pronunciation may not be. Early pronunciation instruction will ensure that you read correctly throughout the learning process and that, in the long run, you are understood.

Additionally, you won’t pick any improper pronunciation habits. This does not imply that you should start off perfecting your pronunciation. To practise proper pronunciation while you learn the language, all you need to do is be mindful of the sounds. You will never get better if you’re just not conscious that you’re saying things wrong. Language learners need to understand how the words should sound, and it will get there with practice.

  • Basic grammar rules

The polyglot community appears to have come to the conclusion that grammar shouldn’t be overemphasised. Drilling grammatical rules is significantly less effective than actually using the language.

But before you can begin constructing sentences, you’ll need to master some fundamental grammar rules, such as word order, tenses, useful conjunctions, and so forth.

In just a few hours, you can start using pre-made sentences to have very brief chats. You can improve your pronunciation and get a sense of the language’s structure by using these sentences.

  • Verbs

Verbs like “”to be”, to think”, “to do”, “to have” and “to go”, are verbs that you’ll come across frequently. If you want to have productive interactions, you’ll need to swiftly master. You can advance and study the other forms once you have mastered those “daily verbs” (and others like them).

The objective is to slowly and steadily increase your understanding of verbs and verb forms over time, rather than to know every verb or particular word in its entirety.

Utilise these crucial verbs and work to include them into your active vocabulary. Use them frequently and try new things. Test your knowledge when you’re ready using online quizzes and other methods of evaluation. After that, use the feedback to fill in any knowledge gaps by using grammar references.

  • Create a toolkit for language skills and second language acquisition

This includes things like downloading any apps you intend to use, enrolling in classes if you intend to do so, purchasing the necessary books and supplies, setting up your language-learning journal, identifying social media accounts to follow, and planning out podcasts, movies, and other media forms can be helpful for many language learners.

It’s best to use a range of techniques, but you also don’t want to overburden yourself with resources. Consider beginning with three to five distinct tools in your toolbox and adjusting as you go.

Branching out from your native language and pushing yourself to learn a new one will be a lot easier if you find yourself some resources that work for you.

  • Make lessons plans

When in doubt, begin by learning the alphabet, fundamental phonetics, and pronunciation, as well as by memorising a list of the most typical nouns and verbs.

A typical language has about 100 words, the majority of which you’ll use in daily speech. Get particularly good at those initially, and then start learning vocabulary sets that are related to the topics you believe you’ll be discussing (such as business jargon if you’re learning for a job or food terms if you’re trying to experience eating at a restaurant overseas).

  • Create a schedule

The main factor that ultimately decides your success will probably be how well you manage your time. Even if you are very motivated to start right away, you won’t get very far if you can’t create a habit that endures.

If you remember nothing else from this, remember this: studying for 15 minutes a day will be much more effective than studying for four hours once a week (and then giving up because you’re already exhausted).

The most important piece of advice we’ve ever heard from learning gurus is definitely to continually take modest actions in the direction of your goals. Thankfully, that’s really quite manageable. The majority of us have idle time each day of at least 10 to 15 minutes.

Additionally, make sure your routine includes some diversity. Things that feel like treats or incentives fall under this category.

You may decide that Friday nights are for cultural immersion activities like visiting a restaurant or a museum, while Sundays are for communicating with your study partner via Zoom and viewing a movie in your target language.

This positive reinforcement may be exactly what you need to maintain your motivation over the long term.

So – what should I learn first when learning a language?

With all of these tactics in mind, we recommend starting with learning the alphabet, and simple vocabulary. One of the foundational steps in learning a new language is learning the alphabet. 

Learning the alphabet is an excellent place to start learning a new language, especially if you want to be able to read and write in a language rather than merely utilise it verbally.

You’ll have a solid basis to practise pronunciation and learn simple sentences once you’re at ease with the symbols and sounds of a language’s alphabet. You’ll soon be able to hold brief conversations in another language if you keep up your learning!

Intensive language courses with SIMON & SIMON

A rapid and efficient way to learn a new language is through intensive language programmes. A SIMON & SIMON intense language course can be the ideal choice for you if you’re trying to accelerate your language learning process.

You only get the best since all of our instructors speak English and have had extensive training and have many years of experience instructing in their target language.

We offer intensive courses in Spanish, French and Arabic, and Business Language Courses in a range of languages to suit your needs.

Contact us today to get started!

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