Want to become fluent on your own?
Or maybe you’re learning a language by yourself to comfortably get by on upcoming travels.
No matter what your language learning goals are, the words of French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry still apply:
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Well we’re going to turn your wishes into reality with a successful study plan.
Self study offers a unique alternative to traditional classroom learning, but you need to equip yourself with the right tools to succeed without a dedicated instructor in your wheelhouse.
Keeping yourself motivated, making quantifiable progress and learning to speak like a native number among the many obstacles you’ll face along the way. But the tips and hacks in the following three steps will get you over these hurdles and beyond, as you build your own language study plan.
DIY Language Learning: 3 Steps to Build a Successful Study Plan on Your Own
1. Outline Your Study Goals
Reflect on the last time you sat in a classroom. Most professors use highly specific curriculum and a detailed syllabus to outline the trajectory of their courses. As an independent student, you won’t benefit from the same structured lesson plan. While some language enthusiasts find creative license to be a boon in their learning endeavors, many others find themselves overwhelmed by a lack of direction.
If you’re just starting out on a language learning mission, use your overall objectives to guide your study goals. Why do you want to study this language? Perhaps your desire to learn is driven by an upcoming trip, for example. In this case, you’d want to set basic conversational skills well within your sights, as well as memorization goals for learning travel and food-related vocabulary.
Perhaps you’ve advanced past the elementary elements of your chosen language, in which case you’ll need to set more ambitious goals. To complete this process effectively, follow this three-step approach, which is explained in detail below:
1. Research challenging concepts
2. Set a realistic time frame
3. Build a syllabus
Research Challenging Concepts
Progressing from intermediate language skills to the next echelon of fluency often trips up independent learners. The world may be your oyster, but how should you pinpoint what to study next?
One easy way to gauge your progress and determine where to focus your energy is to take a placement exam. Academic institutions use placement exam results to determine which courses are most appropriate for experienced students. Many universities allow you to take a free placement exam online—simply perform a Google search for “[target language] free placement exam.”
Maybe you’ll find you need to work on expanding your vocabulary, or perhaps your knowledge of a particular verb tense is a bit rusty. Use this insight to target particular goals.