Starting a new language by yourself

Learning a language is a huge challenge, especially when you want to do it on your own. There are many different approaches , but the start is always most important. Once you have confidence in your way of proceeding , you are more likely to continue and not lose motivation. For this reason, here are some tips on how to start learning a new language all by yourself. Things to do and not do, tricks and hacks that may help.

  1. Language learning apps
    • There are many different tools to learn languages, but one of the most efficient ways is to use apps. The most used one in the world is Duolingo (Henshall, 2019). This may not be a surprise since you probably already know a lot of people who started off with Duolingo. It is definitely worth it. Duolingo helps with learning the basics, and you don’t have to worry about making mistakes in front of other people. It gives you short lessons on different topics, ranging from basic verbs to everyday phrases. It encourages you to keep up with your daily work by sending notifications before you lose your streak. Because the lessons are composed of not more than 10 questions, you can easily do several a day.
  2. Making a habit of it
    • If you are able to fit 10 minutes of language learning into your daily routine, it will become easier to learn. You may get more work done in an hour, but you won’t remember a lot from that. You can do a lot in 10 minutes; conjugate a new verb, do one or two lessons on Duolingo, read one chapter of a book, etc. If you can keep these daily 10 minutes going for around 2 weeks, you are less likely to break that new routine and you will make daily improvements in your learning progress. This also teaches you discipline which is always useful in day to day life.
  3. Find people to share the language with
    • Although you may start to know a lot in theory, it is important to transfer that knowledge into practical usage. What can really help is if you find someone you know, who is also learning the same language or already speaks it. If others are also learning the new language , mutual motivation and practice in groups will be helpful. This will make it less stressful to make mistakes in front of each other, and making mistakes is the most powerful mode of learning . If you know native speakers , they could help you with things such as pronunciation, which can be very helpful once you build the confidence to start speaking.
  4. Find your motivation
    • The most common mistake that happens when people start their language learning process is that they lose motivation and stop. To keep this from happening, you should find motivation that will keep you going. Small things; that vacation you want to go on, being able to tell people that you can speak another language, writing pretty, organised notes about new things that you learn, the list can go on and on. Whatever it may be, make sure it will keep you motivated to do 10 minutes each day. Of course, make sure that you really want to learn your chosen language, and take it seriously. Starting with something like that with no real aim or meaning, doesn’t give you a purpose to continue and the chances of you stopping are very high. Importantly, have fun with the subject’s you choose to read in the new language.
  5. Where to start ?
    • There are roughly 6,500 languages spoken around the world (Klappenback, 2021), so where do you start? A few things to keep in mind when choosing a language is what the advantages of speaking it are. Just saying “languages are always good to know” isn’t always good enough. Ask yourself things like; how will this benefit you, do you want a new hobby or is it needed for school or work, what is the specific reason for you to learn this language; because you think it’s interesting, etc. Using prior knowledge can also be helpful, as an example; latin languages such as French and Italian are very similar in

different aspects, which makes it easier to learn either one of them if you already know a latin language. Taking these kinds of things into consideration can help you with starting your learning process.

  1. Get started!
    • You have everything set, what are you waiting for? Do not keep moving the start of your progress to another time. Even if it’s on a Tuesday evening, and you just downloaded Duolingo; that is a start, perfect! When you have everything organised, you should take action. You need to start, and not back away whenever you get the opportunity. It gets easier with time, and you will enjoy it if you have the right mind set. Good luck!

Check list:

Can I… Yes I can do this with confidence 👍 I can but I don’t feel very confident doing

so 😐

I don’t know at all and am not confident


Greet someone
Ask for help
Ask for directions to get somewhere
Ask for a table in a restaurant
Ask how much something costs
Conjugate basic verbs (eg. to be, to have, to want, to need)
Use 3 different tenses (past, present, future)
Read and comprehend simple words that might appear on the streets

Written by: Felicitas, Grade 10