When we decide to learn a second language, the first step is to find the right teacher who fits our needs and interests. To do this, we have to look for a teacher who is a good guide, who shows us the easier and safer road to reach our goals and objectives, who motivates us, making us to want to learn and improve at all times, who gives us confidence, corrects us, helps us to confront the obstacles with resolution and, ultimately, who provides us technical and human quality. It is well demonstrated that, if we like the teacher, we will like the subject, so we have to find that teacher who gets us to the heart and fall in love with him/her.
However, all responsability lies not solely in the teacher, the student must also become a colleague and ally of the teacher, both should form a team to make this learning process 100% satisfactory, since the difference in the learning make it both, the teacher and the student. To do this, it is necessary that the student is active and becomes responsable for their own learning.
Would you like to become a protagonist of your own learning and be a successful student of languages? Here I give you 10 tips to get it:
1. In the first place, we must know ourselves very well, know what kind of students we are and what methodology suits us best. To discover this, we have to ask ourselves:
- How we learn best: reading or writing; listening or speaking; watching movies or reading books; studying grammar or playing; studying during day or night; in a quiet place, such as a library, or in a more informal place, like a coffee shop; alone or in company…
- Which is our goal: why I learn Spanish, what for, what I want to achieve, what new opportunities has to offer me… Having our goal very clear is vital to be full of motivation and thus be able to commit to maximum with the language that you want to learn.
2. Set ourselves small goals to reach that aim and have patience. If we try to do everything at once, accelerating the learning process, we won´t enjoy it and, probably, we will get frustrated. Learning is a process, a knowledge leads us to the next one and so on, as in a ladder, climbing rung to rung, or as in a puzzle, adjusting one piece to another.
3. Learning a language also requires will, effort, perseverance and discipline, that is to say, requires a bit of sacrifice of our part. That´s why you must get involved in your learning process and never lose the enthusiasm to get at the end of your project, which is neither more nor less than to be able to communicate in another language and manage yourself in that culture.
4. In order to advance steadily, we also need to have determination and concentration, we must be attentive to what happens in the language to be able to progress adequately.
5. We must try to practice the language from the first day, practice and repetition will make the difference. To do so, we have to find the way to make the language part of our everyday life, from setting small habits that won´t take too much time but will let us carry out our daily responsabilities and do the things we like. We have to try to immerse ourselves in the culture of the language even though we don´t live in a Spanish speaking country, and practice whenever we can, without forgetting that these habits should be a pleasure, not an obligation. How to do it?:
- Nowadays, we don´t have an excuse thanks to technology, which opens doors to a myriad of virtual resources to practice the language in question: virtual newspapers, videos, social networking, podcasts, dictionaries, forums for students, websites with interactive exercises, etc; that allow you to be in contact with the language and research its culture.
- We must practice whenever is possible, radio and television are a great tool for learning vocabulary, immerse yourself in the culture and become familiar with the melody and rhythm of the language. In this way, you will be falling in love more and more with the language and, even one day, you will be surprised to discover how much you can understand.
- Participate in language exchange, both face-to-face and online, where you will practice and get to know new people who surely will make a great difference in your learning process.
- We can also practice wiht ourselves, thinking in the language. For example, building sentences in our head and rehearsing responses. We can even practice structures and pronunciation in bed before sleep.
- Remember that riding a bike can´t be learnt just looking at people doing it, you have to get on it and fall as many times as necessary to master it. Hence the need for daily practice. So practice whenever you can, the more you do it, the faster you will be gaining in confidence and the greater will be the ease to face any communicative situation in the future in a satisfactory way.
- Finally, if you have the possibility, travel and live the experience in the target country, you will be surprised of how well you can develop yourself and you will be proud of your own achievements.
6. A language is something that needs to be processed, not only memorised, try to understand how it works and practice to reach this processing until you can make it part of yourself and blend in with it.
7. Never be afraid to be wrong or to be corrected and learn to deal with frustrations. Be able to laugh at yourself and enjoy the process of learning, as a child. Play, have fun and learn, always with enthusiasm and curiosity fully awake.
8. Don´t ever be ashamed of your pronunciation, this is important as it can hinder communication. It is essential to realize that speaking in another language, more or less correctly, is already a success, and that is not necessary to hide our true origin. We come from where we come and that´s what makes us so special, so if we have a strong accent it is as if we hace no accent at all.
9. To speak, we must also be able to understand, hence the importance of working all skills (listening, reading, speaking and writing). In this way, we will be able to cope in any communicative situation, either written or oral.
10. Always feel satisfaction of your own progress, doesn´t matter how minimum that is, nobody said it was easy, so each and every one of our accomplishments have their merits and we should never ignore them. Above all, enjoy the journey and be protagonist of itself, you won´t regret it and you may be surprised at everything you can get on your own and with the help of your ideal teacher.