Was writing another post when something strikes me. The different approaches an experienced language learner and a newbie take when learning a new language. Especially if you are going to self-study. Here are some things not to do when picking up a new language.
1. Buy a phrasebook and a pocket dictionary
Hands up if you ever did that. I know i’m guilty of that (for Spanish years ago). It’s the stupidest thing to do and I can almost guarantee that you will never get very far with it.
Sometimes I dunno why phrasebooks are so popular. They will NEVER EVER help you learn a language and seriously, how many of those phrases are you likely to use even in your trip to the place? Most people feel awkward speaking in a totally foreign tongue and probably won’t even utter a single word in that language during their travels. And the extroverted ones probably will use just a few phrases.
So why buy a phrasebook? You can search it up on the internet.
And a pocket dictionary. A ‘must have investment’? No. There are tons of good online dictionaries, and if you are those that learn ‘on the go’, get an electronic dictionary instead.
2. Language applications on the phone
Urm. I’m not a fan of most of them. Unless they are really proven to be accurate. Such apps are like the online equivalent of a phrasebook and seriously, I think the phrasebook has more accurate phrases. I’ve seen a couple of Korean phrase apps that are ridiculously wrong. Awkward phrasing – did the developers use Google translate? – and awful use of 당신 for YOU.
They amuse me more. Rather than teach me something useful.
Not to say there aren’t good apps. But please be more selective.
3. Buy tons of Textbooks / Grammar books
A newbie learner often gets too excited and enthusiastic and end up buying loads of books at one go. A wrong move for various reasons.
First, are you sure you will be committed? Not trying to be mean(?), but a lot of people give up on a language within a few months. Or even less. Are you sure you want to invest on all these expensive books before being sure that you want to learn this language? Language learning is for life. That is, if you are serious about it. Using the internet first will be a smarter choice. There are loads of awesome websites and content on the internet. Especially so for beginner learners.
Make use of that.
Also, not all textbooks are good. And not all are suitable for you. Get a sense of how the language is like and then decide on what kind of books to use. Try to avoid vocabulary lists, or books with titles like ‘Learn Korean in 3 weeks’.
An experienced language learner will somehow develop an eye for deciding whether a book is good or not. And how to complement his/her study with various books. A newbie will learn the same skills too.
4. Rely on romanization
Probably another of the most stupid thing you can do. Habits stick and you will find it hard to wean off the ‘convenience’ of romanization after a while. Just learn the script. It might be difficult and tedious, but you have no choice in the end anyway.
5. Set unrealistic goals
Probably a major reason why many learners get so disappointed and fall out along the journey. You can’t be fluent in a language within a year. Unless you stay in that country. The best thing to do is just not to set any goals. Enjoy learning. Why must you learn to achieve certain goals? I prefer to concentrate on the process.
If you have any other do nots, feel free to share via a comment! ^^