Why do some people manage to learn a language effortlessly and achieve fluency faster than others? The answer isn’t long courses, books or even practicing sometimes. The real deal of learning a language is habit.
A habit is a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition, a settled tendency that becomes second nature and it doesn’t require a strong effort. Most of the people who can achieve a high level of fluency, build strong and sustainable habits that can last forever if cultivated accordingly.
So here are 5 tips to build successful habits to learn the Spanish language:
Our routine is not something that we plan on a daily basis, it just happens because it is already settled in our unconscious mind. But how did it actually get there? Action.
Every routine is made of small actions, and when it comes to learning a new language, you need to set up a new action that fits your routine but adds the new ingredient to train your brain for a new skill.
For example if you read the news in the morning, you can spend the last 5-10 minutes of your normal reading time on reading a news section in Spanish, or if you play music in the shower you can create a playlist of songs in Spanish for that period of time. Also, if you like cooking, make a recipe from scratch in Spanish, or then instead of watching the regular TV show, spend that time watching a show in which you can hear the Spanish language.
These are just some ideas, however you need to find those moments in your routine that are fixed and add the Spanish on top. Remember that learning a language is about habit and consistency, which will progressively lead to mastery over time.
One of the most difficult things about learning a new skill is when it becomes tedious or too technical. You can’t learn a new language without a certain level of motivation that comes from the topics or activities you are most interested and passionate about in life. Therefore, choose a topic that interests you first.
For example if you love sports, you might want to learn the names of the rules in Spanish, or if you like art, you might want to start understanding the different periods of history where their movements came to life and engage with that topic. Anything that you enjoy is a great start.
Once you have chosen your topic, it should be easier to include it in your daily routine.
The truth is, if you get too comfortable learning the Spanish language, you won’t really challenge yourself enough to master it faster. Try getting out of your comfort zone, for example, by introducing yourself to strangers in Spanish, using a new word or sentence in a meeting or simply by attending groups where you are forced to speak Spanish.
How to build a habit of jumping into the uncomfortable? Basically learning from your mistakes rather than experiencing them with frustration.
Remember that progress is not always linear and being able to celebrate your mistakes gives you the confidence to move forward without feeling stuck.
In every language process there are moments where you might feel that you are going too slow or not learning quickly enough, however that is simply not true. The trick is to review everything you’ve learnt before each time. The more you review your previous insights the more they will stick with you and the better you will be able to use them.
5. Give yourself a reward for each routine accomplishment
It might sound strange, but the simplest achievements often are the most difficult ones. Setting up a new goal, a new routine, requires a great amount of effort and commitment. So give yourself a reward after a completed day, week, month and go beyond that.
And always remember that progress is not always linear.