When you have a textbook or you sign up to a course or get a tutor, a lot of thinking is done for you. You can turn up, knowing that the road ahead of you is already mapped out, and trust that people who know what they’re doing will lead you to where you need to be.
But for us self-teachers, the road isn’t so clear.
When you start looking for ways to learn a language, it can be pretty overwhelming. There are literally hundreds of methodologies out there, and experts on all sides have opinions that don’t all line up. There are thousands of apps and resources and channels on social media, and it can be easy to get lost in the sheer number of options at your fingertips.
When you’re at school, you’re following a rigid structure that tries to bring in a bit of every learning style and something to interest everyone, some of the time, but it’s perfect for literally nobody. Because how could you possibly write a syllabus that fits the needs and interests of every schoolchild in the country?
One of the absolute best parts of self-teaching a language is the DIY approach you can take to building yourself your perfect roadmap. Of course, you can bring tutors and mentors and textbooks and courses into it, if that’s what you want. But the possibilities are ENDLESS!
Why not learn the words to every One Direction song that every existed and sing them loudly at every opportunity?
Why not get fully immersed in foreign telenovelas and soap operas?
Why not do a yoga or dance class every day in that language? I bet there will be plenty online.
Why not learn languages through Netflix? (And no, that doesn’t just mean watching a series, reading the subtitles in your own language and calling it a hard day’s work 😉 I’ll do a post on this soon…)
Why not get going straight away by making stuff in your new language? Set yourself goals to get creating as soon as possible… whatever you would normally create in your own language. Comic strips. Make your own memes. Write down your family recipes. I don’t know.
Part of the fun of language learning is seeing what works the best for you. Find your own unconventional methods, and remember it doesn’t need to be serious and academic to be getting you closer to where you want to be.
You know yourself best. You know what works for you. So, trust yourself to do things your own way, in the way that makes sense to you.