Language On Your Own: Self-Study Tips

This is Part 1 of a 12-part series.

Are you tackling study of an endangered language on your own? Fantastic!  And – get ready!

Learning a second language – any language – is not an easy task at any age. And yet, many people around the world achieve proficiency, fluency or some skill at a second, third and even more languages. So it can be done!

If you know where to find a fluent or proficient speaker of the language, you are already ahead because you can start a friendly relationship and ask to listen to correct speech.


A personal relationship with a speaker can make learning easier.

A personal relationship with an elder speaker can make learning easier.

If you can get onto the Internet, there are likely to be more learners around the country eager to practice together.

Studying on your own takes time, dedication, planning and discipline. Yes, learning to speak and understand a new language requires all of those … and one thing more.

How Do They Do It?

First let’s note that the quickest path to speaking and listening skill in any language is full cultural immersion – spending time in places where the language is spoken every day. You can’t get away from it! It surrounds you in every situation.

Can you get that experience in a Native American language? Unfortunately, it is very difficult nowadays, as there are many more learners than speakers. Classroom immersion is possible, but only the most determined and resourceful students can find a mentor for 24/7 immersion.

However, some very determined students have mastered endangered languages through self-study.

These students devoted time, dedication, planning and discipline to the task over a long period of time. They gathered useful tools for their study, and made sure they practiced the four skills of language:

  • Speaking
  • Listening Comprehension
  • Reading
  • Writing.


Besides all of that, successful self-study learners have one thing more.

They have passion for learning the language.

Passion is commitment.

Passion is commitment.

If you have passion for learning — you will learn, no matter what.

If you do not have passion — you will not learn, no matter what.

Passion for learning a language is not a matter of a momentary decision. Passion does not use the term someday.  Passion is the bedrock desire that will not be denied.

 Passion Helps You Make Changes

When you have passion for learning a language, it’s easy to change your daily routine to include study sessions.

  • Set aside at least 20 minutes, twice a day, for learning your language – at least five days a week.  Don’t skip a single session.
  • During the rest of your day, think about and look forward to your study time. Let yourself feel eager to get back to it.
  • Still, don’t burn yourself out with too much study, too soon. Find your own balance.
  • Set up short-term goals. How many words will you learn in a day?  How many in a week?


Those short-term goals add up quickly. They turn into long-term goals.

Once you are comfortable adding new words every week, you can challenge yourself to see how many words will you learn in a year.

Part 2 of this series will start with a very important point to remember, even as you raise and celebrate your passion to learn the language.

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