Every January we have lots of new members joining the Tandem community. This is because learning a foreign language is a very popular New Year’s resolution!
Downloading the Tandem app is a good place to start if you want more opportunities to practice your chosen language. However, vowing to “learn a language” is a pretty vague resolution and only 8% of resolvers actually achieved their aim in 2015.
What can you do to make sure your language learning is a success this year? Here are 8 easy tips to help you make the most of your practice and stay motivated the whole year round!
1. Be friendly!
Lots of people on Tandem are here to learn, but learning with a partner should be fun! Start your exchanges on the right foot by being open and interested in your partner. You never know – it might be the start of a beautiful friendship.
2. Be OK with making mistakes
No-one likes making mistakes. Yet, they are an important part of the learning process. Often, it is by acknowledging a mistake that you learn something new. Make note of the mistakes you have made during conversations and come back to them later. The most important thing is to not be too hard on yourself!
3. Speak to someone new
It can be tempting to only speak to those people you feel comfortable with. But learning a language involves getting out of your comfort zone. Tandem is a great place to safely chat with people from all over the world – make sure you take advantage of this!
4. Be confident
Learning a new language can be very daunting, particularly at the beginning. However, it’s good to take the plunge and start speaking as soon as possible! Having confidence can help you get out there and improve more quickly.
5. Practice in front of the mirror
Plan the topic to discuss in advance and have some practice beforehand in front of the mirror. This will make sure you have lots to say during your language exchange (no awkward silences!)
6. Record yourself and listen back
If you are speaking with a language exchange partner, set up your phone so that you can record and listen back to the call. This will help you recognise your own mistakes and remember any new vocabulary your partner used during the conversation.
7. Set a realistic goal
Targets are great for motivation – but only if they are realistic! If you need a short term target, you can learn a certain amount of words or a rule per week. For a longer term goal, you can plan to reach a new level of language proficiency in six months.
8. Eat more food
… from a country where they speak the language you want to learn. Everyone loves talking about food (or drink), and you will find it easier to start a conversation if you have a topic everyone is interested in!
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If there’s one piece of language learning advice to remember, it is to never pass up an opportunity to practice your skills – especially when you least expect to use them! You never know… it could end up getting you a bargain. Ndiya, a member of Tandem from Texas, USA, experienced this firsthand when she put her Spanish skills to the test. Here’s her story!