1. Make realistic, specific goals
You have decided to learn another language. Now what? On our recent live chat our panellists first piece of advice was to ask yourself: what do you want to achieve and by when? Donavan Whyte, vice president of enterprise and education at Rosetta Stone, says: "Language learning is best when broken down into manageable goals that are achievable over a few months. This is far more motivating and realistic."
You might be feeling wildly optimistic when you start but aiming to be fluent is not necessarily the best idea. Phil McGowan, director at Verbmaps, recommends making these goals tangible and specific: "Why not set yourself a target of being able to read a newspaper article in the target language without having to look up any words in the dictionary?"
2. Remind yourself why you are learning
It might sound obvious, but recognising exactly why you want to learn a language is really important. Alex Rawlings, a language teacher now learning his 13th language, says: "Motivation is usually the first thing to go, especially among students who are teaching themselves." To keep the momentum going he suggests writing down 10 reasons you are learning a language and sticking it to the front of the file you are using: "I turn to these in times of self-doubt."
这问题的答案看起来似乎很明显，但能够准确地认识到自己学习一门语言的目的是很重要的。语言学教师艾利克斯·罗林斯(Alex Rawlings)，目前正在学习他的第十三种语言，他说：“确定学习动机是首先要做的事情，尤其对那些自学外语的学生而言。” 他建议学习者写下十个学习这门语言的理由，并把它贴在学习文件夹的首页，以此保持学习的动力：“当我开始怀疑自己的时候，我就看看这些当初学习的理由。”
3. Focus on exactly what you want to learn
Often the discussion around how to learn a language slides into a debate about so-called traditional v tech approaches. For Aaron Ralby, director of Linguisticator, this debate misses the point: "The question is not so much about online v offline or app v book. Rather it should be how can we assemble the necessary elements of language for a particular objective, present them in a user-friendly way, and provide a means for students to understand those elements." When signing up to a particular method or approach, think about the substance behind the style or technology. "Ultimately," he says, "the learning takes place inside you rather that outside, regardless of whether it's a computer or book or a teacher in front of you."
关于如何学习语言的讨论通常都变成关于所谓传统学习方法和技术学习方法之间的辩论。对于Linguisticator公司的主管亚伦·罗尔比(Aaron Ralby)来说，此类辩论都没有抓到重点：“问题并不是关于在线学习和离线学习，亦或使用应用程序学习或使用书本学习，而应该是我们在面对一个特定的学习目标时，如何收集学习所需的素材，并将这些材料以对用户友好的方式呈现，并提供给学生理解这些材料的方法。” 当决定使用某种特定的方法时，要思考这种方式方法或技术背后的内容实质。“最终，” 他说，“学习是发生在你的内心而非外部环境当中，无论你面对的是电脑、书本还是老师。”
4. Read for pleasure
For many of our panellists, reading was not only great for making progress, but one of the most rewarding aspects of the learning experience. Alex Rawlings explains that reading for pleasure "exposes you to all sorts of vocabulary that you won't find in day-to-day life, and normalises otherwise baffling and complicated grammatical structures. The first book you ever finish in a foreign languages is a monumental achievement that you']ll remember for a long time."
5. Learn vocabulary in context
Memorising lists of vocabulary can be challenging, not to mention potentially dull. Ed Cooke, co-founder and chief executive of Memrise, believes that association is key to retaining new words: "A great way to build vocabulary is to make sure the lists you're learning come from situations or texts that you have experienced yourself, so that the content is always relevant and connects to background experience."
记住一大堆单词是很困难的，更不要说这可能是一个相当无聊的过程。Memrise 公司的联合创始人兼首席执行官艾德·库克(Ed Cooke)认为联想是记忆单词很重要的方法：“建立词汇库的一个重要方法是确保你现在学习的那些单词都是来自亲身经历的场景或阅读的文本，这样的话记忆的内容就会与经验背景联系起来。”
6. Ignore the myths: age is just a number
You are a monolingual adult: have you missed the language boat? Ralby argues "a key language myth is that it's harder as an adult". Adults and children may learn in different ways but that shouldn't deter you from committing to learning another language. "Languages are simultaneously organic and systematic. As children we learn languages organically and instinctively; as adults we can learn them systematically."
If you're still not convinced of your chances, Ralby suggests drawing inspiration from early philologists and founders of linguistics who "learned dozens of languages to encyclopaedic levels as adults".
你是一个只会一种语言的成年人：那么你是否已经错过了学习一门新语言的时机了呢?罗尔比说“关于语言学习的一个重要的迷思就是，成年更难学会新语言。” 成年人和儿童可能在学习的方法上不一致，但这并不应该成为阻碍你学习另一门语言的障碍。“语言是有机和系统的。儿童学习语言的方法是有机和直觉的：而成年人学习语言是系统的。” 若你还对此观点抱有疑惑，拉尔比建议从古代哲学家和语言学创始人身上寻找启示，“这些博学者都是在成年的时候学会众多语言的。”
7. Do some revision of your native language
Speaking your first language may be second nature, but that doesn't necessarily mean you understand it well. Kerstin Hammes, editor of the Fluent Language Blog, believes you can't make good progress in a second language until you understand your own. "I think understanding your native language and just generally how language works is so essential before you launch yourself at a bunch of foreign phrases."
8. Don't underestimate the importance of translation
Different approaches may be necessary at different stages of the learning process. Once you have reached a certain level of proficiency and can say quite a bit, fairly accurately, Rebecca Braun, senior lecturer in German studies at Lancaster University, says it is typical to feel a slowing down in progress. "Translation," she says, "is such an important exercise for helping you get over a certain plateau that you will reach as a language learner ... Translation exercises don't allow you to paraphrase and force the learner on to the next level."
9. Beware of fluency
Many of the panellists were cautious of the F-word. Hammes argues not only is it difficult to define what fluency is, but "as a goal it is so much bigger than it deserves to be. Language learning never stops because it's culture learning, personal growth and endless improvement. I believe that this is where learners go wrong".
10. Go to where the language is spoken
It may not be an option for everyone but Braun reminds us that "if you are serious about learning the language and getting direct pleasure from what you have learned, you need to go to where that language is spoken".
Travel and living abroad can complement learning in the classroom: "The books and verb charts may be the easiest way to ensure you expose yourself to the language at home, but the people and the culture will far outclass them once you get to the country where your language is spoken."