Getting started with a new language

There can be multiple reasons why you are starting to learn a new language. Perhaps you’re not even doing it because you really want it yourself, but because your boss wants you to or you need it as part of your studies or in order to get something done.

However, if you’re a follower of this blog it’s very likely that learning a new language is like a hobby for you and you do it for fun or because you want to be able to really communicate with the locals on your next trip abroad. Perhaps you are moving or have already moved to another country.

Whatever your reasons are, the great thing of learning any new language is that once you’ve decided to do it, you can start right away. There’s no need to make a plan or to make any purchases or arrangements. It’s actually best to start without any plan and to first find out what methods and tools work best for you. Perhaps the first thing you want to do is search for a language course or a teacher nearby or buy textbooks or an expensive online course. Of course you can do some orientation in what is available for your target language, but I suggest you first do some exploring of the language online.

Here’s a list of four quick things you can do immediately the moment you decide to start learning a language. These activities are all online so anyone with an internet connection can do them.

  1. Search for a beginners video on YouTube. Open Youtube.com and type ‘the name of your target language for beginners’. For example, I just searched for ‘Russian for beginners‘ and got a list of videos ranging from 3 minute introductions to a 3 hour long video to learn Russian while you sleep. To get started, I suggest to watch a three-minute video first. It will give you a quick start, you will learn one or two useful phrases and it will give you an idea of how easy or hard this new language is. Longer videos can be good at a later stage when you already have a clearer plan. If you start with a long video now, the huge amount of new information might get you bored or overwhelmed which can both demotivate you all together. While watching your first video, you might also want to take notes of your first words and phrases and keep them on you so you can repeat or practice them throughout the day.
  2. Install a language learning app on your phone and get started with the first lesson right away. Two of my favorite apps at the moment are Memrise and Duolingo. Both apps offer a very wide range of languages to learn. You can start at the very beginning and you can spend as much or as little time as you want every day learning the language. They are very interactive and intuitive, making the process quite personal. If you use such an app for a few minutes every day, you will definitely learn something new every day, providing you with a daily dose of small success.
  3. Join a community on Facebook. Check if there’s a learners community for your target language on Facebook and join them. You might even be surprised to find that there’s a group of learners nearby which will enable you to also meet and exchange ideas in real life. However, to get started you can have a look at the group’s content and see if members posted any learning tips that are specific to your language. You can ask questions that you might have or just browse through any material that others have posted.
  4. Search Social Media for inspiration. Instagram and Pinterest are full of mostly visual resources to get you started or inspired. You can start following some tags, like #learnswedish on Instagram or create a board on Pinterest where you collect any posts or images that suit your personal goals to learn the language.

So those are four things you can do straight a way to make an immediate start with your language learning process. Especially the apps will remind you regularly to get back at learning the language. Social Media and their algorithms will probably also keep pointing your attention to the new language. As you get acquainted with the language a bit, you might want to expand and do some planning and more in-depth learning at a later stage.

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