In this post, I want to share the 3 most important strategies I learned in 2020 about language learning. I learned to value these strategies because I empirically tested them and found that they have improved substantially my learning process. I think these are strategies that can be useful to any language learner.
1: Take time to learn about learning
If you want to learn a language, investing time to explore and discover different approaches and learning strategies will pay in the long-term. Learning a language is a journey and it is a journey that requires a certain amount of commitment in terms of motivation, discipline, and time. Certainly the time I devoted learning and experimenting with new ways to learn languages has paid off. My own learning process has evolved continuously throughout the year and I believe my learner-toolkit will be useful again in the future and not only to learn new languages.
2: Learn first how it sounds and later how it is written
In the last months, I gradually shifted most of my focus on listening and speaking the target language rather than reading texts. This change came with the realization that to learn the correct pronunciation of a language is better to learn before how new words sound and only later how they are written. Why? Because if you know how a word is written you would tend to pronounce it like if you were reading it aloud in your own native language. Therefore, while at the beginning of 2020 I was using a lot of flashcards to learn new words, I now learn first how new words sound by focusing on audiobooks, audio plays, and movies in the target language (I do use a lot the pause and rewind buttons).
3: Active learning costs more effort but pays off
Active learning is any type of learning strategies during which the learner is actively engaged with the learning material. During this year I used several strategies that involved active learning: improvisation theatre in the target language with a friend who is a native speaker, recalling flashcards to learn new words, listening audiobooks, and watching movies in the target language and trying to repeat loudly their content and dialogues. In my opinion, the more actively we are engaged with learning material the more efficient is the learning process.