Try to set aside some time every day for your studies, ideally when
your brain is at its most receptive. It's better to study for 30 minutes
every day than for 3 hours once a week. If you can spare an hour a day,
break it up into two or three sessions to avoid brain overload.
If you decide to study for half an hour a day for example, try to stick
to that time. It's often easier to get started on an activity if you know
you'll finish it after a certain time. Don't worry about completing the
lesson or whatever you're working on, just try and do as much as you
in the time available, and maybe you could reward yourself afterwards.
Go over each lesson several times, perhaps once in the morning, once
in the evening and once several days later. Give your brain time to
digest the material, but make sure the gaps between periods of study
are not too long, i.e. more than a few weeks, or you will forget most
of what you're trying to learn. Make sure you have got to grips with
the contents of one lesson before moving on to the next.
Build on solid foundations
Make sure you're comfortable with the fundamentals of the language before
tackling the more advanced stuff. It will take you a while to get
used to the pronunciation and orthography of a new language, but without
a solid understanding of these, you'll find it very difficult to learn more.
Set yourself targets
Setting reasonable targets is a good way to motivate yourself. You could
set yourself a time limit or aim for a certain level of proficiency.
Focus on your interests
Once you have got to grips with the basics of the language, learn to
talk/write/read about the things that interest you. In this way you
are more likely to remember to the words, phrases and grammatical
constructions you encounter.
Don't be discouraged by apparent lack of progress
You will find that at times you're making fairly rapid progress, while
at other times you seem to standing still or even going backwards. This
is normal when learning a language, so don't be discouraged. If you
feel like you are making little or no progress, try going over
earlier lessons/exercises to see if they're easier now than when you
first tried them.
Don't worry about making mistakes
You probably make the occasional mistake when speaking your native
language, so making mistakes in a foreign language is nothing to worry
about. What matters is getting your message across, not whether you
use all the right words, inflexions, tenses, cases, etc. If you cannot think of
the exact words, try using other ones. For example, say you were talking
about your office and didn't know the word for photocopier - you could
try describing its function: "a machine for making copies"
instead. You could also try drawing pictures and/or miming if you
can't think of the words.
Learn how to say things like "How do you say X in your language",
"What's the word for Y?", "What's that called?",
"What are they doing?", etc.
If you have a teacher or native speaker to help with your studies, ask
them to point out your mistakes and to correct them. When you first
start learning a new language, having every single mistake pointed out to
you will be very demoralising so ask for only the more serious errors
to be highlighted. When you've acquired more confidence and a degree of
fluency in the language, ask for all your errors to be commented on.
If you inadvertently offend people with your mistakes it's useful to have
a few stock phrases up your sleeve, such as "Forgive me, I don't speak
your language very well but am trying hard to learn it." or "Why
are you laughing so much?" or "What's so funny?" or
"What did I say wrong?".
Find ways to make language learning fun. This could involve games,
songs, stories, tongue twisters, jokes and anything else you can