Feedback is an essential part of learning any language. With feedback, you gain a sense of direction, more quickly pinpoint areas you need to work on, and get acknowledgement for when you’re going in the right direction. These are all important ways to not only give your learning motivation a boost, but to progress in your studies faster.
There are a few different ways to get feedback on your language skills, but the one that I find most effective is studying with a tutor. Why?
Because a tutor will not only be able to point out my strengths and weaknesses, but offer me ways to build the areas that I’m weak in. They can also answer my questions about the language that I’m learning. When I want to know a rule or why the language does what it does, they have the training and background to answer my questions.
* Is this the first post in this series that you’re reading? Follow this link to learn more about my Hungarian language challenge.
Milestone 4: Have a Hungarian lesson
Once I’ve had a few weeks with the language, I like to schedule a lesson with a professional language tutor on iTalki. That way, I can get feedback on my progress, context for the language I’m learning, and have the chance to interact in the language.
It can be intimidating to try to figure out an entirely new language on your own, and that’s why I like to work with someone who can tell me (honestly) how I’m doing.
What do I look for in a language tutor?
When I’m ready to take lessons, I try out several teachers. I look for someone who:
- Is willing to adapt their teaching style to my needs as a learner
- Doesn’t ask that I follow a set lesson plan but help me work towards milestones that I set for myself in the language
- Doesn’t mind typing words I don’t know into the chat
- Keeps the lesson almost entirely in the language – even if my speech is halting, slow and mistake-ridden
- Doesn’t stop me with corrections but instead, they also add these to the chat
- I get along with
Each of these are things I take into consideration when selecting a tutor I’ll work with long-term. You can get an idea of how my lessons go in this milestone’s update video.
During my first lesson, my tutor and I worked through introductions and greetings. It was perfect because I learned to phrase things differently than what I had worked out on my own, had the chance to learn a bit about grammar, and I was also able to practice my self-introduction with someone new.
Milestone 4 Stats
Between Milestone 3 and Milestone 4, I had to take a break from Hungarian because of a conference I attended in Shanghai. I had to focus on other languages to prepare for the trip and wasn’t able to study Hungarian alongside them.
At this stage, I was somewhere between 250-275 words in Drops.
A Note About Breaks
Life happens. And sometimes it means that you need to put your language learning on hold. When this happens, it can be difficult to get back into the swing of things. It’s hard to pick up a habit like studying after taking a break from it.
Here are a couple of tricks that I use to restart my language studies when I take time off:
- Start small: Rather than try to pick up your habit exactly the way you left off, start small. Aim to study just five minutes a day rather than an entire hour. Install an app on your phone so that you can study anywhere rather than try to allocate time to sit down at your desk. Read just one page in your coursebook rather than try to work through an entire chapter or section.
- Stay small: Sometimes the reason we take a break from our language studies is because our routine was too aggressive to maintain long-term. If your break happened because you were burned out or just couldn’t squeeze language learning into your day, this might be why you stopped. Create a more manageable daily routine so that you can stick with your studies longer.
- Focus on today: Rather than worrying about if you’ll get back your study habit, focus on studying just for today. One day is just one day and you can do something today. Plus, once you can check “language study” off your to-do list one day, it’s much easier to do the next.
What about you? Are you taking lessons for your new language? I’d love to hear about how you get the most out of your lessons in the comments below!
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Drops: the new way to easily learn a language that combines engaging and fun word games with beautiful design. Learn up to 30 languages with fun, visual games. Try the fastest-growing language app in the world for free on iOS or Android.