Before you Start Learning your L2

Home / Language Strategies / Before you Start Learning your L2


Perhaps learning French or Italian sounds romantic. Perhaps you need to learn Spanish to compete for your next promotion. Maybe it’s love. There are countless reasons to learn another language. Here are the five things you need to know if you are a monolingual just starting out:

2015 Calendar
1. It’s going to take time.
Serious time. Learning a second language to the level where you can comfortably converse on normal everyday topics is probably going to take years. Let me repeat: Years. This brings us to number two.

2. Set realistic goals. Because learning takes so much time and effort, set realistic goals along the way. Saying today that you want to be ‘fluent’ isn’t going to help. Saying today that you’re going to memorize colors or common past tense conjugations is realistic. This helps.

3. Find a teacher. This is not a teacher in the traditional meaning of the word. Whether this is another student who is a little better than you in the language, a friendly waiter down at the local café who happens to speak the language, or someone who is literally a teacher or tutor, learning a language is a social process. Find someone to help you practice.

Have fun!4. Have fun! We can easily recall a first date or our last vacation but we have trouble remembering what we ate for lunch the other day. Emotions help us to remember, and learning a language is all about memory. Play with the language and enjoy it!

5. Don’t give up. While at the beginning it can seem as though you are just learning little pieces, those little pieces will soon sort themselves out into meaning. This takes time. Give the language a chance by continuing your studies.

Understanding the role these five ideas is important for successful language learning. If you are just starting out or looking for ways to improve your learning, think about these points and see how they apply to you.

Ready to Get Started? Enroll in the free, 30-day Compass Language Learning eCourse designed to walk you through everything you need to successfully begin your language studies.