How to Overcome Language Learning Obstacles
Thinking about it, language learning comes with all kinds of struggles and obstacles. After all, here you are trying to learn a language that you may have never had any experience with and is distinctly different from your native language. Just how in the world are you supposed to learn how to actually read, speak, and listen to a language that feels so incredibly foreign to you?
It can be extremely frustrating to have studied a language for weeks and months and feel like you haven't made much progress at all. In this article, we'll be addressing three of the most common language learning obstacles that many language learners come across when learning a foreign language for the very first time.
These results were compiled from Glossika's very own Obstacles in Language Learning Survey, where we asked language learners within the Glossika community about what posed the biggest challenge to them in their language learning endeavors.
Uncertainty in Listening
When listening to learning materials such as audio files or conversations in your studied language, it is quite common for you to miss things the first time around. Then you have to go back and repeatedly listen to them until you find out for sure what it was you missed.
For many, this can be a tedious process. Since you don't have a language expert on hand at all times to tell you what something means, it can be very frustrating to listen to it over and over again, yet feel like you've made no significant progress. So what are some ways to overcome this obstacle and drastically improve your listening comprehension?
Try to listen to audio of native speakers talking or conversing in your target language as often and as much as possible. The main reason why it seems like you're able to learn a language so much more effectively when you're in an environment that provides full immersion is that it maximizes exposure to your target language.
When a language is pretty much in your face all the time and you're forced to listen to it on a consistent basis, you can't help but develop an aptitude for listening skills. But obviously, it's not exactly practical to keep traveling to another country just to replicate that immersive environment, so what are some things you can do from home every single day that can be just as effective as full immersion?
- Put together some audio material that you can listen to either at home or on the go. This can be anything from learning audio files, videos, TV shows, documentaries, etc. Make sure they have English subtitles or anything that allows you to correlate what you're listening to its actual meaning. While increasing exposure to a language via constant listening is certainly extremely effective, if you don't have a clue what they're talking about, it can be hard to follow along.
- That's where Glossika Spaced Repetition (GSR) comes in. By giving you a compilation of sentences organized by our science-backed algorithms to completely optimize your language learning experience, you are able to work on everything from listening comprehension, grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary all at the same time. Check out Glossika's SoundCloud channel for audio samples!
Using Proper Pronunciation
Finding the confidence to speak a language that you're learning for the first time and are not yet familiar with can be a challenge. However, unless you muster the courage to actually practice speaking out loud, you won't be seeing much improvement in speaking or pronunciation anytime soon. Typically, you want to work on your listening comprehension first before focusing too much on speaking. By improving on your listening, you can more or less make out whether what you're saying is right or wrong. Now let's get into some actionable tips you can start applying right away to significantly improve your speaking and pronunciation!
- If you have a language learning buddy that you can practice with, that's great! Since you're both students of the language, you don't have to worry about embarrassment and just practice to your heart's content. If you don't have someone to practice with, don't worry! Try recording your own voice so you can compare your pronunciation with that of the native speakers' audio. There are plenty of videos on YouTube with songs or dialogues that you can follow along that will also help you greatly with your pronunciation.
- When watching a native speaker talk, either via video or in real life, make sure to pay close attention to the physical factors involved in making a sound. This includes noticing every little detail of how their mouth, tongue, and lips move and work together to pronounce a certain word. By taking note of this, you can practice replicating it so the next time you record yourself and compare your pronunciation with a native speaker's, you won't be able to tell the difference!
We're with you on this one. Grammar can be one of the most unpleasant parts of learning a language. Although grammar is certainly one of the most important aspects of any language, you would be better off saving it for after you have a good understanding of the basics. Instead of hyper-focusing on grammar, first familiarize yourself with how the language sounds and feels. After you've developed your listening, speaking, and reading skills more, go ahead and delve more into how the language is structured and organized from a grammatical standpoint.
- So you're now at a point where you're comfortable with the fundamentals and ready to take on grammar. How exactly does one even begin to learn the grammar of a language? If you've been using Glossika, you probably already have some idea of how words are structured in a sentence. By giving you thousands of sentences for a multitude of different situations, you are able to easily and naturally discern the patterns involved in determining how the grammar of a language works.
- If you've ever taken a look at one of our guides to grammar and pronunciation, you'll see that we take a very simplistic, yet detailed approach when tackling grammar. You can find the grammar and pronunciation guides in the Download section of our site! By referencing English, a language that you are most likely already very familiar and comfortable with, you are given the means to make a comparison to your target language and either draw vast similarities or stark contrasts accordingly.
Break Through Your Language Learning Barrier
Thanks to everyone who contributed their answers to our Obstacles in Language Learning Survey! With your help, we were able to construct this guide that will hopefully help you address and swiftly overcome each of your language learning obstacles. We understand that language learning is an involved and ongoing process that can sometimes take a very long time. With that in mind, you can rest assured that we'll be here to guide you every step of the way. So now is the time to take these tips and apply them to your own language learning routine to give it the boost it needs to break through to fluency!