Learning a Language: What should I focus on?

17th March 2018

Ever feel overwhelmed by the choice of language learning tools? Or like you don't know what to concentrate on first? Azren helps you get focused.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the choice of language learning tools? Or unsure of where to focus your time? Maybe, once you’ve finally chosen a resource or activity, a niggling doubt creeps in…

Is this really the best use of my time? Isn’t there another way that could help me learn faster?

I used to struggle a lot with this uncertainty - still do sometimes! That’s why when Azren sent me his guest post on where to focus your attention, I found myself nodding along to his smart (and often overlooked) advice. If you feel unsure about where to direct your time and energy when learning a language, today’s post is for you. Azren’s tips will help you zoom in on what’s important, so you can feel confident that you’re learning the right things. You'll learn:
  • The 4 + 1 model of language learning that will help you decide where to focus your time.
  • How to plan your study sessions so they get you closer to your language goals.
  • The underrated skill that could make all the difference to your language learning.
Take it away, Azren!

The 4 + 1 of language learning


The most underrated language skill

I was interested to hear what Azren had to say about behavioural tendencies and body language. People don’t normally pay much attention to non-verbal communication, but it can make a big difference to your ability to blend in with the locals. I’ve been living in Italy for several years now, and while I've picked up a lot of these skills naturally from spending time with Italians (I can gesticulate with the best of them), I sometimes feel like something’s missing. People often greet me in English when I walk into shops and I get handed the English menu before I open my mouth. Sure, a lot of it is probably down to my pale skin and dress sense. But I wonder if there’s more to it than that. I probably have some British behavioural tendencies and body language which single me out as a foreigner. Things like:
  • Being nervous and saying scusi/grazie all the time (bumbling British politeness!)
  • Avoiding eye contact
There must be loads more that I’ve never even noticed before. I’m looking forward to observing Italian behavioural tendencies and body language more closely and trying to mimic them. Let’s see if this helps me feel a little more Italian! What about you? How are the behavioural tendencies and body language different in the language you’re learning? Can you have a go at mimicking them?

Next steps

Azren gave some great advice on how to decide where to focus your time when learning a language. To really benefit from these ideas, it’s time to put them into action. Ask yourself: What do you want to do in the language? Your answer to this question will help you decide what to focus on next. Do you want to chat easily to native speakers? If so, you’ll need to focus on speaking, listening to realistic conversations, pronunciation, idiomatic expressions and slang. You might also want to think about how you can imitate behavioural tendencies and body language so you can blend in. Do you want to work in the language someday? In that case, you’ll probably need to develop solid writing skills. Get really specific about what your goals are (writing them down helps!), then let those dictate where you spend your time. Next time you feel unsure about your choice of language resources and activities, just ask yourself: is this going to help me develop the skills I need to achieve my language goals? If the answer is yes, you know you’re on the right track.

Where can I find more from Azren the language nerd?

If you’d like to hear more from Azren the language nerd, you can connect with him on these channels:

What do you think?

What are your language goals? Which skills do you need to focus on to reach them? Have you ever thought about behavioural tendencies and body language as an important part of language learning? Let us know in the comments!


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