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How To Learn a New Language by Yourself

by Melody Li
Man listening and learning on the computer

Have you always wanted to learn a new language, but the thought of adding a community college class on top of your full-time job deters you? Or maybe you finally found a private tutor whose schedule aligns with yours, but the price of your multilingual dreams is out of reach.

Don’t give up just yet—there’s an alternative. Learning a language by yourself allows you to learn what you want, whenever and wherever you want.

Can you learn a new language on your own?

Before you commit to an independent language learning journey, consider the following: 

  • Do you prefer to learn on your own schedule? 
  • Do you want to be in control of your own learning?
  • Do you know how to stay motivated?

If you answered yes to all of those questions, then yes, you can teach yourself a new language. Now that you’re feeling confident, let’s dive into a few practical tips you can use to fuel your solo learning adventure.

6 tips for learning a language by yourself

1. Build your language learning plan

Before you begin crafting your roadmap, let’s take a step back and answer a few questions. 

  • Why do you want to learn a new language in the first place? 
  • What’s your desired fluency level? 
  • How much time do you have? 

Practicing conversational Japanese for your honeymoon trip, for example, will look very different from learning the language to deepen your relationship with your in-laws. If your goal is to converse comfortably as a tourist, you don’t have to confuse yourself with Japanese’s three different writing systems. On the other hand, you’ll want to fully understand how to use Japanese honorifics before meeting your partner’s family. 

Understanding your motivations will help you narrow down your studying to the necessities and streamline your plan. The earlier you identify your goals, the more time you’ll save in the long run. Whether you’re learning a new language for business, travel, or loved ones, Rosetta Stone’s Your Plan seamlessly tailors your learning content to your unique goals. 

2. Find the right resources for you 

When learning a new language, there are four primary skills to build: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Depending on your goals, you might place more emphasis on one skill than another.

No matter what skills you want to target, the key is to find resources that work for you. If you don’t usually enjoy reading fiction novels, chances are you won’t enjoy reading fiction books in another language either. Instead, opt for news articles about your favorite sports team or read subtitles of your favorite movie in a foreign language.

Language learning content goes beyond just textbooks and online learning platforms. We recommend diversifying your resources to increase your language exposure for a richer learning experience. Here are a few different ways you can strengthen each language skill: 

YouTube and TikTok videos
Movies and TV shows
SpeakingConversation clubs
Language tutors
Record yourself improvising 
WritingFind a language exchange partner to text or write to
Start a blog or social media account in a new language
Translate passages of a book 

3. Get immersed in your target language

Experts agree that immersion, completely surrounding yourself in your target language without the support of your native tongue, is the best way to learn a new language. Instead of relying on memorization, language immersion taps into your brain’s innate ability to absorb new information through patterns and context clues. It’s how we all learned our first language as a child!

So what are you still doing here? Drop everything, buy a one-way ticket to a country whose official language is your target language, and forget that English exists! 

Or not. While living abroad is an exciting immersion experience, it’s not always accessible for everyone. Luckily, Rosetta Stone’s Dynamic Immersion approach is available anytime and anywhere you want to dive into a foreign language. You’ll be reading, writing, and speaking in a new language from the very first lesson. 

4. Seek opportunities to speak the new language

A key aspect of language immersion is taking what you’re learning and applying it to real-life situations. In a traditional classroom setting, you’d have classmates to practice conversations with. But finding opportunities to speak the language out loud when you’re learning on your own can be tricky. And while you certainly could play both parts of the dialogue by yourself, there are better options a few clicks away.

Learning a language “on your own” doesn’t mean you have to learn alone. In fact, language learning is a fantastic way to meet new people. If no one in your social circle speaks your target language, a quick Google search will lead you to conversations with native speakers, language tutors, or other learners like you! 

Plus, interacting with native speakers will help you hear the language as it’s really used. While textbooks can provide vocabulary lists and example dialogue, the best way to speak like a local is by picking up conversational phrases and slang as you hear them naturally. 

5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

If that last tip made you sweat a little, you’re not alone. Many beginners hesitate to apply their new language skills to real-life situations because they don’t want to embarrass themselves in front of others. 

Mistakes are inevitable in the language learning process. The only way to perfect your speaking skills is to keep practicing. This is especially true for tonal languages, like Mandarin, where the difference between “sugar” and “soup” is just a flick of the tongue. Practicing your pronunciation can prevent you from asking for soup in your coffee. 

But even if you do blunder, it’s not the end of the world. Sure your barista might be a little confused, but you’ll learn a valuable lesson and even retain information better afterward. So instead of letting your fear of making mistakes hold you back, take Bob Ross’ advice and reframe your idea of mistakes as “happy little accidents”!

If you don’t want real humans to judge your speaking skills, let our speech recognition engine judge you instead. Rosetta Stone’s TruAccent compares your pronunciation to millions of examples by native speakers and gives you real-time feedback. It’s built into every lesson and refines your accent for every new word you learn. 

6. Hold yourself accountable

While independent learning allows you to personalize your curriculum and learn on your own time, that freedom can easily turn into a lack of structure. When you’re in charge of your own learning journey, there’s no one to assign homework and quizzes to ensure you’re making steady progress.

Instead, you’ll have to track your own growth and keep yourself accountable to make sure you achieve your goals. Here’s what we recommend: 

  • Commit to your new language every day. Studying your target language for five minutes a day is better than not practicing at all. Even if you don’t feel like tackling a new lesson, reviewing what you already learned is also beneficial. 
  • Keep a daily language journal. Jotting down what you’ve learned and any obstacles you’ve faced is a great way to reflect on your learning and keep track of what you need to spend more time on. Writing this information down will make it easier to look back at how far you’ve come. 
  • Find an accountability partner. Even if you don’t know anyone who’s learning the same language as you, you can still find a learning buddy. Know a friend learning guitar or a family member training for a marathon? Check in with each other regularly to see how everyone is progressing and celebrate your successes together!

Start learning a language today

Now that you know how to create a plan, find the right materials, and build a support system, you can start learning a new language by yourself. We know it’s easier said than done, but it’s not impossible. With these tips, some planning, and enough discipline, you’ll be able to reach your language goals.

Ready to embark on your solo learning journey? With Rosetta Stone, you’ll have all the tools and support you need to stay on track without compromising flexibility and personalization. Take the first step by downloading the Rosetta Stone app or visiting www.rosettastone.com today. 

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