Learning a Language: Techniques for Developing New Study Habits

Learning a new language means you will have to develop new study habits with respect to devoting time to learning and maintaining your language skills.

I am currently reading a lot about finding motivation and developing study habits. As you already know, I’m a big fan of techniques and shortcuts that make things easier.

Updated: 10/04/2016

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The 30-day Challenge to Developing Study Habits

One highly effective technique for developing new habits and keeping them over the long term is to give yourself a 30-day challenge. 30 days isn’t a lot, which makes it much easier for you to take up learning a language because, instinctively, you know you can honour your commitment for at least that long. In fact, that’s how you trick your subconscious: If you last 30 days, you’ve surely made a habit of studying language and are likely to continue this habit fairly easily.

For example, you could challenge yourself to review your vocabulary on MosaLingua every day for at least 30 days. Usually, after 30 days, this should become a habit and you’ll no longer have to make yourself do it.

I recommend that you watch this short video from the TED conferences. It’s inspiring, and I hope it will help you start your own 30-day challenge that will last:

You can also watch the video directly on the TED website.

The Chain Technique to Developing New Study Habits

Another very effective and popular technique is the chain technique. If, for example, you decide to watch the news in French every day, you could make an X on your calendar every time you watch the news. As the days pass, you will create a chain of X’s on the calendar and every day you will beat the record for the number of consecutive days that you completed your task. Your goal will be to continue the chain by watching the news every day:

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This may seem simple, but I assure you, it really works. The key is to have your calendar somewhere visible so that you think of your commitment every day.

There are also a number of applications based on this principle. My favourite is the web/mobile application Chains.cc:

 

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It’s easy to use and well designed. One of its functions that I like the most is the option to make group challenges. This allows you to compare your performance with other people and creates some friendly competition to help you complete your challenges. It’s a form of public commitment, another effective motivation technique. (I discuss this in a MosaLingua bonus feature.)

There are many active groups, such as groups for working out, others for meditating and, of course, groups for practising the language that you’re learning (see the image below).

Another excellent habit-making iPhone application is WayOfLife:

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So, are you ready to start your own 30-day challenge?

What do you think of these techniques? 

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This post is also available in French.

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