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Strategies On How To Learn A Language From Scratch: Tips For the English Teacher

Strategies On How To Learn A Language From Scratch: Tips For the English Teacher | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Learning a second language is something many English teachers need to undertake. Having good strategies to use is key to learning successfully.

The need to learn a second language is a growing need as international travel and living increases. This is especially true for English teachers.

An estimated 250,000 native English speakers work as English teachers abroad. Many English teachers find themselves in an environment where learning a second language is necessary. Having good strategies to assist them in learning can greatly improve their learning speed and efficiency.

When I first started to learn a second language, I really had no idea of where to even begin. Years later, and with many hours of time spent studying, I hope that I now have a good knowledge of tried and true strategies that work effectively in language learning.

How to Learn a Second Language from Scratch

Start at the very beginning.

When beginning to learn a second language, it is very beneficial to get a general understanding of the basics. Below are some pointers on what to study at the very beginning of learning a language.

  1. Learn the Alphabet.
  2. Learn what creates the plural form of words.
  3. Learn how the sentences are laid out.
  4. Become familiar with the general sound of the language as a whole.
  5. Learn the vocabulary ‘I want, I need, I have, and I like.’
  6. Learn simple words that make complete sentences with the words above. (Ex. I want food. I need water. I have toys. I like dogs.)

Learning these things will help you have a good foundation to build on, and you will have greater confidence in your learning experience.

Knowing simple sentences helps you to put the language into a very practical stance right away, and when you can create your own sentences, your self-motivation rises. Having a good beginning greatly increases the chances of having a good ending.

Ways to Learn Your First Vocabulary

Learning vocabulary is very important in acquiring a language. Thankfully, there are many strategies that assist in productive vocabulary learning. Below is a list of some of my favorite vocabulary learning strategies.

  1. Make and study with Flashcards.
  2. Label physical household objects with the respective words in the language that you are trying to learn.
  3. Translate simple children’s books that use very basic words that you are learning.
  4. Write words on your hands so you see them throughout your day.
  5. Make and play games like Bingo and Memory that use the vocabulary you are trying to study.
  6. Write your ‘To do’ lists in the respective language of interest.
  7. Find online learning programs that can assist you in learning.
  8. Create an alphabetized list of all the words you have learned.

Learning vocabulary is essential in learning a language, but there are many ways in which this can be made easier and even fun by certain strategies.

Strategies On How to Learn to Use Vocabulary in Practical Ways

After acquiring a basic foundation of the language, it is important to put the knowledge into practical use. This can be done in a number of ways. A few of the most successful strategies are listed below.

  1. Make friends with people who speak your target language and do your best to communicate with them.
  2. Find articles and books written in the language and read as much as possible to help increase comprehension.
  3. Listen to audible books in the language of study.
  4. Watch English movies with subtitles in the language you are learning.
  5. Listen to and learn songs in the language.

At first, your efforts in these areas may seem difficult, but over time they will become easier. Continue to study new vocabulary at the same time as using them in practical ways.

Final Steps in Learning A Language

There comes the point in time when the best way to continue to rapidly learn the language to the point of fluency lies in being immersed in the culture and language you are trying to learn. This can be done in a number of ways which are listed below.

  1. Spend a lot of in-person time with native speakers.
  2. Teach others what you have learned.
  3. Study the grammar behind what you have learned.
  4. Set specific times when you can only talk in the language you are learning.
  5. Change the language on your electronic devices to your target language.
  6. Watch movies completely spoken in your language of study.

Using these strategies will help you to continue to apply the language in a very practical way. Before long, you will be fluent in the language that you have chosen to study.


There are many strategies for studying that can be used when learning a language. Having good tools to learn with can make obtaining new knowledge so much easier and even more fun.

With the increasing need for people all around the world to learn new languages, it is not a surprise that English teachers would often need to learn a second language.

I have spent many, many hours in language study, and I have found many various learning strategies that, to me, have been most helpful. I hope that my progress in learning how to learn helps someone else.

The biggest thing to remember, though, is that being creative is key to learning. Find fun and productive ways that help you in your language learning.

Over to You

Do you have any other learning strategies that you have found to work well? Are there any other ways to learn a language? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.

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