How to Make a Plan to Learn a Language?

You are probably looking for a way to learn languages. When you are learning your first non-native language, it may feel like you have to learn so many things that you don’t know where to start and how to reach the level you need. I have experienced the same.

I can remember the time that I was learning English. I asked people for advice but that didn’t work for me. I couldn’t remember the words and expressions over a long period of time. I was disappointed with my progress, lost my motivation, and thought that I was not intelligent enough.

But I changed my mind and looked for another way to learn a language. I started to make a plan. By working strategically and taking little steps, I noticed that I made more progress, created more structure in my mind and could remember vocabulary for a longer time.

From that moment on, I realized that it’s not about intelligence.

It was about focusing exactly on what you need to learn. You have to focus on the vocabulary you are going to use. And that sounds pretty logical. If you learn the words and expressions you won’t use, you will forget them. Why would you spend so much time and effort into learning the things you’ll forget?

I’m going to describe how you can make a plan to learn exactly what you need to learn when you learn a language.

The ingredients you for your plan

Learning languages is like baking. You need a recipe when you are baking a pie for the first time. So you need a plan to learn your (first) non-native language. Make sure your plan is made up of these three ingredients:

  1. Goal. A good plan starts with your goal. Decide for yourself what your goal is to learn a language.
  1. Time. How much time do you have left to learn? And how much time on a day can you spend on learning?
  1. Resources. What websites, books, or applications can you use to learn your target language? What topics do you have to focus on? Remember that you don’t necessarily have to attend a course.

Now, I’m going to describe how you can make a plan to learn your target language in three different situations.

Example 1: You are going on a vacation

Imagine that your goal is to go on a vacation in Spain. You have 3 months left to learn the Spanish language.

  • Your goal could be making friends, learning how to introduce yourself in Spanish, and asking people where you can find address X.
  • Time: You have three months to learn Spanish. You can decide to spend one hour to learn Spanish every morning.
  • Resources: there are multiple websites and apps you can use to improve your Spanish. To make friends, you can learn some basic vocabulary about the country, culture, food, your hobbies, interests, and your job in Spanish.

You don’t necessarily have to learn more than 50 different verbs and over 3000 basic words. By learning to use 10 of the most used verbs and up to 10 words per category (country, culture, food, hobbies, etc.) you can have a basic conversation. Your partners will even be impressed by your progress so far in three months!

Example 2: You want to learn languages to pass a test

When you have to learn languages to pass a test, you can make a plan to improve your weak skills and read, listen, speak, or write about the topics that will appear on the test. Your goal, time, and the resources you have to use can be different for each kind of test. But here is an example based the IELTS (an English) exam I have to take soon:

  • Goal: Improving my ability to speak, read, write, and listen to subjects like food, travel, economy, etc.
  • Time: One month. I’m going to practice every morning for 1 hour.
  • Resources: websites like the IELTS Liz and IELTS-up. And I’m going to read and talk with native speakers about the IELTS subjects.

Click here to read “How I Prepare Myself For The IELTS Exam”

When you are learning a language to pass a test, you should practice every day. Once it’s a habit, it won’t be hard anymore!

Example 3: Learn languages as a hobby

You can also make a plan to learn languages by yourself as a hobby. It can be a challenge and take a lot of time to reach a high proficiency by yourself. Instead of working to reach one goal, you can better divide your goal into different milestones. It will help you to make your progress visible and keep you motivated.

For example, you can decide to learn to introduce yourself and understand easy texts in the first 3 months (milestone 1). Then, you can move on to read and talk more about the topics you like to talk about in the next 3 months (milestone 2). Finally, you can write some texts and essays and ask native speakers to read and correct them in order to reach a high level (your goal).

You can decide how much time you want to put into learning that language and make your own schedule. You can choose different kinds of resources and focus on the words you want to learn.

How are you going to learn your target language?

Currently, I’m using this way of learning to learn French, improve my German, teach myself photography skills, make better drawings, and learning for exams. Did you find this article useful? Share it with other (language) learners and share your plan in the comments below.


Featured image by Freestocks via Stocksnap. Icons infographic by Freepik via Flaticon.

Kamila is a polyglot who taught herself over 5 languages using social media and apps. She created Polyglot’s Diary where she enjoys sharing her tips and experiences. Head over to her Instagram profile and YouTube Channel to follow her progress.

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