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Why it is hard to learn a new language

If it is difficult for you to learn a foreign language, you can take a deep breath now because you are not alone. It is no secret that it is more difficult for adults to learn a new language than for children, in whose extremely flexible brains the necessary connections grow and develop that they need to learn an additional language.

But why is it so difficult to learn a foreign language at all? Put simply, this is because it poses a double challenge: both in terms of the mind (your brain needs to build new cognitive structures) and in terms of the time it takes (you have to practice consistently over a long period of time to be successful). But that is not all.

In this article, we’ll look at three main factors that make learning a new language difficult – and give you six tips to make things a little easier for you – so that you can move forward with bigger strides from now on!

a student learning english

The brain

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to learn Spanish through play, while others can barely manage a “hola”? Well, there is research that indicates that the individual interconnections of our brains determine the success of language learning. In a study conducted at McGill University, participants’ brains were scanned before and after a 12-week intensive French course. The researchers found that the connections between areas of the brain involved in speaking and reading were stronger in the participants who found it easier to learn. So that could mean that some people simply have better cognitive skills for language learning, but of course, it doesn’t mean that not everyone can and should try (and learning a language is very good for you and your brain )!

How we learn

Evening courses, language holidays abroad, apps, conversations with your tandem partner, working abroad, intensive courses – there are so many methods and opportunities to learn a foreign language. Unfortunately, however, it is also the case that adults hardly have the opportunity to learn “on the side” or implicitly, as children often do when they simply deal with native speakers all day and gradually “pick up” the language. Our highly developed, cluttered adult brains often get in the way while we study.

As adults, we usually learn by gradually expanding our vocabulary and learning vocabulary, but often we do not even know how the individual words belong together properly in order to formulate grammatically correct sentences and texts. Research at MIT even indicates that the tendency towards analysis and questioning is more likely to prevent adults from noticing the subtle nuances of a foreign language and that greater effort in this area does not lead to better results.

Katie Nielson from Voxy sees the problem in the fact that we see language as an object. “In history lessons, you learn chronologically and work of the years to get everything in the right order. But you can’t learn a language that way, ”says Nielson. “It doesn’t work like memorizing a certain number of words and rules and then expecting to master the language. One then has the knowledge of ‘language as an object’; one can describe the language, but not use it. ”

She suggests understanding the process as “skill learning” (something you do) rather than “object learning” (something you know). But how do you do that? Just let go of the claim to perfection. Learning without hesitation – whether with an app, a course, or while traveling – don’t be afraid of making mistakes and accept that you will feel stupid sometimes, but that that’s not bad at all.

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The most effective learning methods for students

WHY DO YOU EVEN NEED LEARNING METHODS? – AN OVERVIEW

Of course, you don’t necessarily need learning techniques to get through your studies successfully. But I can tell you from personal experience that learning with a system …

… Is funny
… helps you to learn more effectively and better
… the learning material is better remembered
So all things that make life as a schoolboy or student easier, right? Then let’s get started:

1. WHY A LEARNING PLAN IS ESSENTIAL

Yes, I know it’s totally tedious and exhausting and you’re maybe more of the I-study-2-days-before-the-exam-and-stuff-me-then-the-whole-subject-matter type, but what’s right and to study stress-free, it is highly recommended to create a study plan. And not just two days before the exam.

Implementation:

Depending on how extensive your study material is, you sit down 2-3 weeks before the exam and look through all of the material. Make a rough estimate of how many pages you can study each day and then make a plan for it.

You take a blank piece of paper and write down exactly which chapters you want to have learned by when and how many pages you have to learn per day. The best thing to do is to plan a small buffer at the end so that you can repeat everything in the last few days before the exam.

And now comes the most important step of the whole thing: You start with the learning plan and adjust it if you have set yourself too much. But once you’ve set realistic learning goals for each day, you need to stick to them. Without arguing.

You don’t meet up with friends and you don’t even watch your favorite series until you have completed your planned study quota for the day.

You can only reward yourself when you have achieved everything that you set out to do for today’s day of learning.

Conclusion: Divide your learning material into small stages and stick to them, then little can go wrong and the learning stress and exam anxiety are limited.

2. UNDERSTANDING INSTEAD OF LEARNING BY HEART: SQ3R METHOD FOR YOUR LEARNING SUCCESS

If you are just about to memorize tons of scientific texts – STOP it! You only use unnecessary brainpower, which you can use much better.

As? It’s good that you ask, my friend!

The SQ3R method – is particularly suitable for understanding and learning scientific and factual texts.

Implementation:

You can imagine the method as a dance between two people who are getting closer and closer and more familiar – this is exactly how it should be with you and the factual text (romantic, I know). So that you can better imagine the whole thing, I have added small explanations for each step.

Step 1: S – Survey

Here you just skim through the text and mark important keywords. You get to know a new person and introduce yourself formally.

Step 2: Q – Question

You ask questions about the text and think about what could be relevant. This way you will read the text much more carefully the next time and try to answer your questions. You find the person who introduced themselves to you attractive and wants to find out more about them. To do this, you ask your counterpart a few questions to get to know him or her better.

Step 3: R – Read

Now you go through the text again, but this time thoroughly. You make sure that you understand everything and that you can answer your questions. You like your counterpart very much. You look at her or him carefully again from head to toe. The face, the hair, the body … you know what I’m getting at.

Step 4: R – Recite

Now you summarize the text again in your own words. This will ensure that you have really understood the text and internalize it. Plus, you’ll be able to remember your own words better later and just have to learn your summary.

You ask your counterpart to dance so that you can get closer. How about tango?

Step 5: R – Repeat

You repeat the key messages of the text and go through all the important points again so that the text is anchored in your brain. The dancing was fun. We can do it again if you feel like it!

After these five steps, you should have understood the text and learned it well.

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Sam Derick

My name is Sam Derick, and I am a writer since 2000. In 2012, I married my wife and now am a father of 2 children.

I’m at present a freelance writer covering topics on everything under the sun.