If Your New Year's Resolution Is To Learn A New Language, Read This

The most common New Year's resolutions may surprise you, but one that's often considered by many is wanting to learn a new language. However, this can be incredibly challenging to approach when out of school, for example, where you could otherwise take high school or college courses to get you started. The COVID-19 pandemic changed New Year's resolutions, too, because it's no longer easy or accessible to accomplish a lot of resolutions in person. They do say learning a language is easiest when surrounded by it, after all.

Some have turned to language learning apps more than ever during the pandemic, and these certainly can't hurt. According to Lingualift, some of the most popular apps include Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and Memrise, among a few others. However, apps sometimes don't provide the full experience. Sometimes they only teach you specific words instead of how to properly use them or the grammatical structures needed to understand their use. Still, apps are a great way to start.

They're simply not the only good way, though. There are a few tips you should know to jump start your language learning journey.

You can't learn a language without speaking it

There are some New Year's resolutions you should (and shouldn't) make, but learning a language is never a bad one, even if it is intimidating at first. According to FluentU, one of the best ways to jump start your language learning journey is to dedicate some time to learning the top 100 most frequently used words in the language you want to learn. If you focus your time trying to learn the whole language at once, you won't get far. However, learning the most common words will immediately help your understanding and allow you to begin listening to native speakers better, etc. Thankfully, FluentU offers these lists for several languages.

In addition to learning the most-used words first, the BBC also recommends several tips, including not being afraid to speak the language. You just have to understand that you won't be perfect or fluent at first. Not speaking simply holds you back from learning from others, from developing your own foreign language database, and from building your confidence. Immersing yourself in TV shows and music from those languages helps greatly, too.

"If you are not willing to put your identity on the line, progress will be slower," Michael Geisler, the vice president for language schools at Middlebury College in Vermont, told the BBC. He also said that "people are very patient" generally when understanding what a non-native speaker is saying, especially if they can tell that you're serious about wanting to learn and approaching the language with respect.

With these tips in mind, go forth and unabashedly learn!