efficient language learners

8 Characteristics of Successful Language Learners | Language Tips

efficient language learners

What do the most successful language learners have in common? Find out eight common traits in this post from Spanish tutor Jason N


When you first start learning a new language, it might seem frustrating. There are tons of new vocabulary words and new grammar rules to learn, and listening to native speakers may make your head spin.

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But don’t give up! You successfully learned one language well so far (or you wouldn’t be understanding this post!), so you can clearly learn another. And the fact that you’re even reading this article shows me another important factor — that you’re motivated to learn!

Outside of that, though, some people seem to learn languages faster than others. More often than not, it’s because they possess certain traits and characteristics that help them along the way. I’ve been tutoring for a while now, so I started thinking about what these traits are.

Here are the characteristics I see in my most successful language students:

1) Observant

The most effective language learners spend time and energy outside of classes and lessons trying to understand the language’s clues, patterns, structure, and organization. Along with this, you should keep notes to monitor what you’ve learned, and come prepared with questions for your tutor, teacher, or professor.

Learning Tip: As you learn, immediately apply new words and grammatical concepts/rules by writing or speaking. You’ll likely already be doing this with your tutor, but continue practicing in between your lessons, too. Pay attention to contextual clues as you speak with others, and write down any patterns you notice.

2) Pragmatic

My best students know what works and what doesn’t for their personal learning style. This includes an active approach in tailoring your personal preferences and needs in all learning situations, so you don’t waste time on what is ineffective for you.

This characteristic also involves thoughtfulness, including picking up on the objective of a given in-class exercise and why it’s important to your overall language learning.

Learning Tip: Figure out your learning style, and make sure your tutor knows it too.

3) Dedicated

Super-learners believe they can always learn something, even if they dislike or struggle with a given concept, topic, or rule. They steadfastly seek learning environments that facilitate their unique needs and goals.

They also know there are no shortcuts when it comes to learning! Efficient language learning requires a combination of a great teacher or tutor, the right learning resources, and a commitment to practicing on your own time.

Learning Tip: Supplement your lessons with other ways of interacting and learning. This could include taking an online group class, playing a language-learning game, or listening to a podcast during your commute to and from work or school.

4) Fearless

My best students frequently seek out opportunities to chat with native or experienced speakers, with the aim of communicating and understanding before accurateness. Down the road, while temporarily prioritizing communication, super-learners know they will learn to balance communicating with accuracy as they improve.

Learning Tip: Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone! Seek out opportunities to chat with others, whether they’re native speakers or another student learning the same language. If you get nervous, check out these conversation tips.

5) Patient and centered

Research has shown the best way to learn is with a relaxed, yet alert inner-posture. In my five years of experience as a tutor and 12 years as a Spanish language learner, I have seen that one’s attitude, including patience with the process, can be more important than your initial skill level and intelligence!

Learning Tip: If  you’re feeling frustrated with your progress, take a step back. Learning a new language takes time, and some concepts and rules may seem easier than others. Let your tutor know if you’re struggling with something, and spend extra time on that.

6) Realistic

Most languages are highly complex. Efficient language learners are realistic, systematic, and goal-oriented in their approach. The involves an active long-term commitment, effective organization, and knowing that it’s unrealistic to aim for perfection.

Learning Tip: Think about your short- and long-term goals, and write them down. Make sure they’re realistic and reachable! If you have a busy schedule, you may not have a ton of time to set aside — and that’s OK. Just make sure you’re noticing consistent progress, no matter how small.

7) Personable

As trait #4 mentioned, consistent contact with experienced and/or native speakers is key. Super-learners have the social support needed to continually practice the language, in all types of settings.

Learning Tip: Get as much practice as you can speaking in your target language! Chat with other students online, find a language exchange partner, or teach a family member what you’ve learned so far.

8) Worldly

Lastly and most importantly, efficient language learning requires embracing the culture of the new language! They know that a language is much more than vocab and grammar; it’s an entirely new way of conceptualizing and seeing the world.

Learning Tip: If you have the resources, consider traveling to a country where the language is spoken. Immersion is proven to help you learn faster, as you’ll get real-life practice.

Recap – 8 Characteristics You Need for Effective Language Learning

8 characteristics of effective language learners

As you can see, there’s nothing inherently special about these students — these traits can all be mastered throughout the learning process.

Getting started is the first step. Find a language tutor today and you’ll be on your way to speaking a new language!

Photo by Nazareth College

JasonNPost Author: Jason N.
Jason N. tutors in English and Spanish in Athens, GA. He majored in Spanish at UC Davis, lived in Mexico for 3 years where he completed a Master’s degree in Counseling, and studied Spanish Literature and Psychology at the University of Costa Rica. Learn more about Jason here!  

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are language lessons worth it

How to Stop Wasting Your Money & Time on Language Lessons

are language lessons worth it

Are language lessons worth the money, or should you learn another way? French tutor Jinky B.  shares her tips here… 


Thinking about taking a language class or working individually with a language tutor for French, Spanish, or another language? With so many resources available these days, it can be a daunting task to pick the right way to learn. And it’s no secret that signing up for private language tutoring is usually one of the pricier options.

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Aspiring learners often ask, “Are language lessons worth it, or are they a waste of money? Do they even work?”

Here’s the thing: while private lessons can be more expensive than using a free app online, the benefits of individual lessons can pay back tenfold.

Yes, those language lessons can be a waste of money — if you’re not taking learning seriously.

Language lessons and classes work — if you put in the effort.

In order to reach your language learning goals, here are five things you can do to better maximize your progress and not waste your money.

1. Determine your objectives and goals.

Let’s take a French student, for example. Why do you want to learn French? Do you have an upcoming ski trip to the French Alps? Are you moving to the south of France for graduate school? Do you want to perfect the French accent?

Decide the reason for your language lessons. Saying that you want to become fluent is too broad of an objective. Narrow down the specifics. When you’re on the ski trip, would you like to be able to talk to the ski instructors about une piste (a ski trail)? For your move for graduate school, would you like to be able to carry on a 30-minute conversation with a colleague about the lesson?

With your final objective in mind, this is why private lessons are so much more effective than other learning methods. Together with your tutor, you can break your objective down into manageable (and measurable) goals. Then, he or she will know exactly how to organize your time together. Reaching your goals and seeing the direct outcome of the money you’ve spent will help you understand that your lessons were worth it!

2. Practice every day.

Most students take language lessons once a week, but you’ll also need to commit to practicing on your own — every day. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to take up a ton of time, and you can even incorporate it into your daily life. If you like to drink a cup of coffee every morning, for example, use that 15 to 20 minutes while drinking your coffee to go over any new words or phrases that your teacher introduced that week.

If you’re not setting aside this time each day, you risk forgetting the information you’ve learned, which can set you back. Make the most of your money by committing yourself to at least 15 minutes every day. At your next lesson, your tutor will review your progress — and you’ll get direct feedback and corrections so you stay on track.

3. Make that practice time efficient.

Many students balance language lessons with work and other responsibilities — so the trick is to make sure the time you are spending on practice is efficient! For vocabulary in particular, the best way to learn is through rote memorization. Flashcards are a great way to do this: each week, create new flashcards using the new vocabulary words you’ve learned, with a picture on one side and the word on the other side. With this method, it’s best to not write out the English translation on the card, so that you’re training yourself to recognize your target language. Here’s an example for a French vocabulary word:

Apple Flashcard - French vocab

4. Talk out loud.

Another one of the biggest benefits to working with a tutor is having someone to talk to in your target language, who can also correct any mistakes you’re making. Staring at vocabulary words alone isn’t going to make you fluent. Instead, you need real-time conversation practice, and that’s what your language lessons and classes are for.

However, you should also be talking out loud when you’re practicing on your own. Pronounce each word as you review your flashcards, and with longer words, tap each syllable out. The more you actually speak the language, the better progress you’ll make.

Also, try to start conversations in your target language when you’re out and about! Here are 20 conversational Spanish phrases, and 25 conversational French phrases to get you started. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also find a local or online language learning group to practice with!

5. Review and prepare for your lessons.

Lastly, to really make the most of your language lessons, make a habit of properly preparing for them. During the week as you’re reviewing what you’ve learned, note items that you have difficulty mastering (pronunciation, grammar rules, translations, etc.). This way, you’ll have a list handy to go over with your tutor during the next lesson — which is exactly what they’re there for!

Your tutor will prepare lesson plans with your objectives and goals in mind, however, it’s important to communicate any obstacles that may be hindering the learning process. In the end, you’re the one in charge.

So there you have it: five tips for NOT wasting your time and money on language lessons. And in the future when you’re speaking in your target language with others — whether you’re on vacation, at your job, or meeting with new friends and family — you’ll realize that was money well-spent!

Make the move and commit to learning with a trained and experienced tutor who not only speaks another language, but wants to share their love for languages. Good luck!

Photo by Luka Knezevic – Strika

Post Author: Jinky B.
Jinky B. teaches French and ESL in Jacksonville, FL. She has her Bachelor’s of Arts in French, French Literature and Psychology from Florida State University and has over five years of teaching experience. Learn more about Jinky B. here!

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how to learn a new language

4 Surprising Hobbies That Prep Your Brain for Language Learning

how to learn a language fast - 4 hobbies that help

Want to learn a new language? There are a few hobbies that can actually make learning easier! Find out what they are in this guest post by Liisi Pajula…


It’s widely known that being fluent in two or more languages is good for your brain and your well-being! The benefits of being bilingual run the gamut from increased problem-solving skills to improved memory and creativity, and speaking another language can even help slow the brain’s aging and delay dementia.

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Obviously learning a new language requires consistent practice, including listening, speaking, and writing in your target language. But did you know that there are also other hobbies and skills that can help you on your way to fluency? Let’s take a look at a few of them.

1) Music can help you process languages better

We’ve all heard the benefits of learning a musical instrument; studies have shown that children who learn an instrument at an early age develop larger vocabularies and a better sense of grammar, for example. And the benefits you gained as a child (or now, if you’re learning music as an adult) can also translate to your language learning!

When you study music, both sides of your brain work together to learn the complicated finger movements and process sounds. It’s the latter part that really helps you acquire a new language – since all speech is essentially sounds, the better you are at deciphering them, the easier it will be to remember new vocabulary and understand what is being said.

Prep your brain – tip #1: Sign up for music lessons (whatever instrument interests you!), or simply dedicate time to listening and analyzing sounds to make language learning easier!

2) Making sense of language through logic

Have you ever tried memorizing a poem that you didn’t really understand? We’re guessing it didn’t go very well. To really learn something, you need to have a deep understanding of it. And languages are no different – to learn a new language and become fluent, you need to analyze and understand the building blocks before you move on to more complicated phrases and sentences.

This is where logic comes in very handy. Although there are always exceptions, most languages have clear grammar rules that govern how particular words behave in more complex sentences. If you can analyze and make sense of those rules, learning a new language will much easier.

Prep your brain – tip #2: Dedicate time to solving puzzles, learn to play chess, or practice complicated math equations to improve your logic and insight into how languages are built.

3) Meditate your way to fluency

Meditation has been proven to be an all-around great idea to help you increase your concentration and brain function. Not surprisingly, this means that meditation can also help you learn a new language quicker.

With meditation, you can learn to switch off distracting thoughts that would otherwise stop you from concentrating on your language learning efforts. This means that you’re more focused on the task at hand, making it a lot easier to memorize new vocabulary or recall old information.

Prep your brain – tip #3: Practice meditation or yoga through classes or private yoga sessions. Even just a few minutes every day have been proven to increase your brain’s capacity to learn new information!

4) Become a great observer

If music can help you acquire a language through recognizing its sounds and processing them better, great observation skills can do that through visual analysis. If you are a natural people-watcher or have spent hours looking at stars through a telescope, you have already given yourself great tools to simplify learning new languages.

Being a great observer means that you pay attention to what is happening around you and critically interpret that info. That is something that is vital for language learning as well. For example, you can look at native speakers (or videos) of your target language and make out what is being said, or detect patterns where more casual onlookers see none.

Prep your brain – tip #4: Hobbies like astronomy or computer games can help you improve your observational skills.

Luckily for all learners, our brains are hard-wired to make sense of the languages that surround us – just look at how easily babies pick up their native tongues. Although this process becomes increasingly difficult with age, the hobbies listed above can make learning easier for you.

Take the time to exercise your brain, and you may become fluent faster than you thought!


A lifelong language learner herself, Liisi turned her love for languages into a way of life when she co-founded Teacher Finder. Having studied six languages herself, Liisi finds great pleasure in helping students around the world on their way to fluency. 

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5 Tutor-Approved Tips for Aspiring Bilinguals | Speaking With Confidence

5 Tutor-Approved Tips for Aspiring Bilinguals - Speaking different languages

Do you get nervous speaking different languages? Whether you’re taking group classes, working 1-on-1 with a Spanish tutor, or taking advantage of online learning tools on your own, speaking is often the hardest skill to get comfortable with. Especially when you’re chatting with native speakers, it can feel like they’re talking a mile a minute!

But don’t let your anxiety get you down. Most tutors agree the best way to improve your conversational language skills is to push yourself a bit out of your comfort zone, and practice as often as you can.

We also like these tips provided by our friends at Extempore, a speaking practice app…

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1. Use self-talk. 

Choose a part of your day when no one is listening and describe what you are doing in the target language (I’m going to brush my teeth, I need a toothbrush, water, and I don’t know how to say toothpaste, I may look it up later). It doesn’t matter whether your grammar is good or not, or whether you’re at the level of just listing words rather than forming complete sentences. What matters is that your brain does the work of retrieving the words you need and transforming them into target language structures.

2. Create a support group.

Form a mini conversation group (maximum 3 people) with other shy people in your class or with friends who also take a class in the target language. Get together once a week to just talk. Again, don’t worry at all about grammar. If all of you are in the same classroom, you can use this time to do homework in the target language.

3. Let others know.

When paired in class with a student you have never worked with, let him or her know that you are super anxious to speak in the target language, but that you will do your best to complete the task. Believe me, most people will be supportive and understanding, and they will not judge how you sound or what mistakes you make (chances are they’re also experiencing some speaking anxiety).


Continue reading the post and find out the other two tips for language learners here.

Readers, do you get nervous when you’re speaking different languages? What tips have helped you? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. 

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15 Stats That Prove Being Bilingual is Awesome [Infographic]

Are you thinking about learning a new language? Having the ability to speak and understand two languages—also known as bilingualism—has its fair share of perks. Besides the obvious social advantages, there are many other benefits of being bilingual. For example, speaking two languages enhances your cognitive skills, improves your mental health, and even boosts your salary.

Don’t believe us? Check out these 15 statistics that prove being bilingual is awesome!

Benefits of being bilingual infographic


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It’s never too late or too early to start learning a new language. While it can be difficult and frustrating at times, the benefits of being bilingual are worth it. So, what are you waiting for? Make the commitment to learn a new language today!