It is a scientific fact that as your age increases it becomes more and more difficult to learn a foreign language. However, that should not be considered a deterrent to actually learning a foreign language; it just means a little extra time and developing study methods that work for you. Below is a list of tips I have found to be effective when learning a foreign language.
First and foremost, determine the amount of time each day you have to actually study. Often times people are excited about learning something new and start their study regime strong but quickly burn out due to lack of time or stress caused by the hefty study schedule. It is important to estimate your study time realistically to prevent stress and burning out early on. A good study schedule for working adults is to dedicate an hour or two out of your day to study or review the language material. Start by only studying two to three days a week and work your way up depending on the extra time in your day.
Now that you have worked out an effective study schedule, you can focus on effective study and review methods. This is going to be the most important aspect of learning a new language because it will allow you to maximize the time you have allotted to studying. Regardless of the method you have chosen to aid in your learning (i.e. audio, text, or both) repetition is the key. Listen to audio pieces several times repeating aloud both the foreign language word or phrase and its English translation. Likewise, read and re-read text taking notes of important or difficult words and phrases for study at a later date. These notes should also be read and re-read for reinforcement.
In addition to listening and reading repetition, some foreign language students also find it useful to learn the foreign alphabet and verbs using written repetition. That is, write the foreign verb or letter on a sheet of paper several times each followed by the English letter or meaning. This drill will be helpful to retain the new foreign alphabet and its English translation; it will also aid you in learning how to write the actual letters in the foreign alphabet, especially with Asian and Middle Eastern languages which do not use Romanized letters.
Although it might sound cliché, note or flash cards are an effective means of learning your new foreign language and reviewing what you have learned. Studying from both sides of the note cards (foreign and English sides) allows you to not only learn the foreign words and what they mean in English, but to also associate the English word with the same foreign language word for that meaning. The thing to remember about learning through repetition, or any other study method is that it’s essential to step away from the learning material after about twenty to thirty minutes and give yourself a break; science has shown that this can maximize the efficiency of studying.
Lastly, emersion in the culture and language of your choosing can be extremely effective in learning proper pronunciation. Traveling abroad is an excellent way to do this, however, for those of us who cannot afford to spend three to six months away from home foreign films and music can be helpful and is easily accessible through the a public library or the internet.