How to select the right resources to learn a foreign language

How to select the right resources to learn a foreign language

For many people learning a foreign language is a difficult, long and boring process, but here's the secret: if you use the right resources, it suddenly turns into an easy and fun activity. Once you have decided to start learning a new language, you need resources - books, videos, courses, apps and other learning materials to guide you through your learning process.

The best place to turn to is the Internet, because you can find a huge amount of learning materials for any language you want to learn very quickly and without too much effort. Having access to all these resources makes life easier and helps you get started with your new foreign language. But you have to be careful and choose the right ones.

This is what psychologists call the "paradox of choice": having many options to choose from, rather than making people happy and making sure they get what they want, can cause them stress and problems in the decision-making process. That is, if we choose the wrong resource, we regret not choosing another, perhaps better one, we feel dissatisfied and blame ourselves for not choosing the "perfect" resource.

As language students, we can overcome this paradox not only by choosing the right resource, but also by making the most of it.

The first step is to make sure that we have fewer options to choose from. To narrow down the options so that everything that remains is understandable, enjoyable and useful to you, it is important to look for resources that match your level, your learning style and your goals. So, you should understand what your current skill level is in the target language to gather resources that are understandable to you; how you prefer to learn - it can be with books, apps, tandems, movies or any material/method that is not boring for you; and what your goals are - talking to natives, reading magazines, writing e-mails for work, etc. - and how you would like to learn. So, to point the compass in the right direction, simply answer three simple questions: "What is my level of knowledge of the language?", "Do you like to study a foreign language?" and "Why do you want to learn a new language? For example, if you want to be able to understand Japanese television programs without having to rely on subtitles, it is useless to spend hours trying to memorize Japanese characters.

Your interests and hobbies are not the only things to consider. You also want to think about your favourite type of activity. If you're always on the go, you might want to use mobile apps, if you're a social butterfly, if you like to interact with a tutor or native speakers via online platforms or language exchanges or courses in your city, and if you're a bit of a sofa, consider choosing online resources you can practice with from the comfort of your own home.

A clear and specific learning program is really important, because it will guide the way you choose language resources.

At this point, you should have far fewer options to choose from than when you started. The next step is to identify the best resources for you and commit to them. How can you do this? First, take your list of understandable, fun and useful resources and try to identify those that seem to best meet your needs.

Once you have chosen the resources to work with, it is advisable to commit to using them and only for the following months. This can help you avoid the regret that often accompanies the paradox of choice and forces you to really familiarize yourself with a product before moving on to an alternative.

Finally, learn to make the most of your language learning material. For example, instead of studying all the rules and grammar explanations from memory, practice using them in context in a variety of spoken or written sentences. It often happens that even if different people start learning a foreign language at the same level with the same books, some of them behave much better than others. This has to do with the way each student uses the resources available to them and makes them effective.

Now that you have collected all the necessary tools, you are reading to start learning and it will not last long before you experience all the benefits that come from knowing a language.

Do you find it difficult to select the most useful resources when it comes to studying a new language? Interacting with your language exchange friends on is a great way to put your skills into practice and a fantastic tool to improve your language level.

Written by: Martina Sassi, Staff Writer Language Exchange