Seven habits of highly effective language learners

In language learning, no matter where you start from, you can achieve your goal if you believe you can. Looking at what the most successful learners do can be inspirational.

Learning a language is complex and the time that it will take you to achieve a level that you are happy with varies greatly from one person to the next. It depends on a variety of elements and in order to speed up the process it is useful to look at the best language learners to understand and try to replicate what they do differently. I have observed students for more than a decade and these are seven elements that effective learners have in common:

  1. They are proactive.
    This is very much true for anything one wishes to achieve. To be proactive means to take ownership of ones’ own learning. The best language students are all independent students. They don’t expect to simply follow the teacher’s direction but have their own strategy for learning. They pick up tips for learning, look for ideas everywhere and develop their own strategy alongside the work they do in class.
  2. They seek exposure.
    Highly effective students understand that exposure to the language is one of the most important elements. So they read and listen a great deal more than the average student.
  3. They use a variety of tools.
    The very best students work online, interact in groups, on pages, use website, apps etc. to help them develop their vocabulary and language skills.
  4. They are not afraid to speak.
    Speaking a language can only be learnt by speaking it. They find opportunities and make the most of them.
  5. They are not perfectionists.
    Abandon perfectionism, the best learners are not afraid of making mistakes. They know it is part of the process of learning.
  6. They are patient.
    Highly effective learners know that learning is not a linear process. The secret is to keep going and practise, practise, practise.
  7. They don’t give up.
    Last but not least, when the game gets tough they don’t abandon it but they keep going, knowing that it will get easier. They trust themselves and the process.