How to learn a language by yourself (successfully)

We hear so much these days about how to make ourselves more employable, which is desperately needed in these times of reduced graduate prospects. Learning a language always comes up on those lists of helpful tips – sometimes they specify which one (normally Spanish or Mandarin), sometimes it’s up to you, but either way it seems clear that it can’t exactly hurt your CV. So how are you going to do it?

Although the university offers the chance to learn a language for free through Languages for All, there’s the off chance you can’t do that – maybe you’re not eligible, maybe they don’t offer the language you want to learn, maybe you just learn better on your own. In any case, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your language learning!

Make a plan

Don’t just make it up as you go along – you’ll be much more efficient if you plan out how you’re going to learn the language beforehand. It doesn’t have to be perfect or very detailed – just make a note of what resources you’re going to use (Google is a godsend for finding new ones) and what you want to focus on first. Speaking? Vocabulary? Write it down and look back at it every so often, just to keep yourself on track.

Get some help

You might be learning the language by yourself but that doesn’t mean you should do it totally alone – whether online or in person, it could be really helpful to find a tutor or a conversation partner who speaks the language you’re learning, just to make sure you’re not making any big mistakes. It also gives you more motivation to keep learning!

Use the language

There’s no point in racing through vocabulary and grammar if you don’t practice what you’ve learned. This could be in a variety of ways – keep a diary, read a book, talk to yourself or others, listen to a podcast. Using the language will keep it interesting and will make sure you keep your end goal in mind – it’s not all about staring at textbooks! Make the language a part of your life and you’ll reap the rewards.

Don’t give up

It might be tough or boring at times but learning a new language is worth every minute, both for what it can bring to a job application and for how it can improve your life – you can meet new people, travel to new places and experience a culture properly. Work hard, but remember to have fun with it!

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