Unable to learn languages? Learn how to succeed!

We all have to learn and it’s not always a piece of cake. Children learn how to walk, speak, eat and so many other things that in adulthood it seems we no longer have this capability and cannot learn a foreign language. But that’s not true!
It is vital to continue learning and here’s the good news: You can learn how to do that using some very useful techniques. Let’s check some of them out!

How does our memory work?

As you probably know, we have a working memory and a long-term memory. The working memory is like an inefficient blackboard or scratch notebook and is only able to hold about four basic pieces of information and only for a short period of time. The long-term memory, however, acts as a warehouse from where we can retrieve consolidated knowledge. So learning is basically getting the concepts, information and ideas from the blackboard to the warehouse.

Timing

The timing is important: You should avoid repetitive overlearning in a single session! Spaced repetition is key to strengthen and deepen the contents. Every day 10 minutes is more efficient than one hour only once per week. Think of it like training your muscles. Consistency is important.

Goals

Whenever you’re learning a new language, focus on the PROCESS and not the final product. Don’t say “I want a B1 in German!” but rather say “I’ll work on my German now.” This tricks yourself out of procrastination.

Also, create study chunks. Don’t try to learn everything at once! Create little digestible chunks and work on them regularly. Your progress will be noticeable soon.

Planning

Now let’s come to another thing that helps you learn much more and more efficiently. Yes! Planning!
It doesn’t matter whether you’re already in love with some productivity applications or you’ll fall in love with one in order to master foreign languages! As you may have understood until now you need to work a little on the language preferably every day. How can you keep track on it? Here are some ideas and tools, so take note!

🧮Trello

Use a visual trello-board to organise your learning contents and schedules. Check out our sample board here.

📓 Notion

This tool merges notebooks and lists and lets you create a complex working environment. Check out the software’s own templates (planners, lists, tasks, journals…), take a look at our sample organiser or create your own.

🎱 Google products

If you’re a Google enthusiast you can definitely plan your learning with their free tools like calendar, tasks, keep, jamboard etc. Just focus on chunking down the contents and set yourself deadlines you are able to meet.

Study strategies

Now let’s check out some strategies you can follow to steepen your learning curve.

  • Pomodoro technique 🍅
    It’s a kind of working meditation: you turn off all distractions for 25 min (“let other thoughts and distractions go”) and then you give yourself a reward (disconnect from activity, e.g. mental work versus physical work)
  • Memory palace
  • Create analogy and metaphors (the more visual, the better)

And last but not least: Exercise

By exercise we do not want to say that you need to practise what you’re learning (that is important though, too). No! Exercise is meant as SPORT. Yes. You need to exercise in order to be better at learning. Why is this? Exercising is a good way of maintaining or helping survive newly created neurons. It also helps you get into the diffuse mode of thinking where unexpected (but very useful) connections between pieces of information are made. So, you learn things, but in order to keep and build up the knowledge physical exercise will help you.

To sum it up, here are some more learning techniques as a take-away PDF:

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