Brick walls. We’re all susceptible to them, especially when it comes to learning something completely new. Brick walls are very common in language learning, and can often have the detrimental effect of causing the student to give up in a fit of frustration. If you’ve been in a slump lately and aren’t quite sure how to break through your own brick wall, here’s a few tips that should help!
1. Stop making the same mistakes.
Learning a new tongue tends to be taxing on the brain, and sometimes those mistakes you pick up early on in your language education can stick with you for a lot longer than you would like! One way to pull yourself out of the slump of making the same mistakes again and again is to extract yourself from learning the language in a classroom environment, and instead go for one-on-one or two-on-one classes. It’s difficult for an instructor to give attention to minute mistakes in a classroom because his or her attention is usually pulled in multiple directions. With a private tutor you can ask that they focus on helping you correct those mistakes or language tics so you’re finally free of them once and for all!
2. Stop stretching yourself thin.
Language learning obviously makes up one part of a very busy life and you’re most likely juggling it along with work, school, family, and a multitude of other responsibilities. Step back and take a breath so you can really focus on your target tongue! Set aside a day (or half a day) once a week where you celebrate the language. Listen to music, watch a movie, hang out with native-speaking friends, or cook a traditional meal from the country where the language is spoken. Branch out online and find groups of fellow language learners who organize activities, like film festivals, that revolve around the target language. You’ll have so much fun you won’t even remember what it’s like to be in a slump!
3. Stop losing accountability.
While comparing yourself to others isn’t really a useful way to learn a new language, making sure you’re held accountable is. Language learning isn’t meant to be a solitary endeavour, and you’ll never progress if you make it one. Find people who are learning the same language you are and keep tabs on each other. Meet up once a month to compare notes on your progress and trade tips for what works best and what doesn’t. Knowing that you’re not alone in the learning process is one of the best ways to break through that big ol’ brick wall!
4. Stop stressing yourself out.
I know it doesn’t always seem like it, but learning a new language is supposed to be fun. If you stress out too much over your progress, you may wind up creating mental blocks that will leave you flailing in that dreaded language slump. Decrease the pressure by setting small, achievable goals. Instead of saying ‘I’m going to be fluent in Chinese in a year’, try: ‘This week I’m going to hold a five-minute conversation with a stranger in Chinese’, or: ‘I’m going to learn and use ten new words a week’. If your goals are too big, you’ll struggle to achieve them and will just get stressed out when you discover you’re not doing as well as you think you should. So chill out!
5. Stop being impatient.
One of the most important rules of breaking through the language barrier and surviving learning a new tongue is to be patient with yourself! Remind yourself on a daily basis that learning a new language takes time, and you are already winning if you dedicate those fifteen minutes to it every day. Build up your self-esteem so that you have the stamina to survive the bumps and walls you’ll face throughout your learning journey. And above all, accept that it’s impossible for you to be perfect, regardless of how talented you are at learning languages! You’re bound to make mistakes and if you’re able to laugh it off and be kind to yourself, you can move forward a lot easier.
Have you hit a brick wall in your language learning? What are some tips or tricks that have helped you give your learning a boost? Share them with us in the comments section!