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18 Sep 2023

How To Learn A Second Language To Accompany Professional Goals

Starting a second language learning journey can be challenging for a variety of million reasons, but the most important one has to do with not knowing where to start. If you’re currently looking to learn a second language to advance your professional career, it’s best to have a clear path ahead to set up a solid framework for your success. This article will help you know the key beginner’s steps towards learning a new target language. Keep reading to learn more about how to learn a second language!

Our Recent Second Language Learning Event with Laboratoria

This past week, two members of our Blue Coding technical recruitment team were the guest speakers at an event in collaboration with Laboratoria. This webinar was all about how to learn a second language and was given to Laboratoria and Blue Coding’s Women in Tech communities. Today’s post will dive into the same roadmap shared in the live presentation by our team, so their practical advice can reach more people. Make sure to follow us on our Instagram and LinkedIn to never miss one of our live events! 

The 10 Starting Steps To Learn A Second Language And Advance Your Career

1. Set realistic goals.

The first and most notable crucial step when it comes to second language learning is to decide on a few attainable objectives from the get-go. Don’t start this journey pretending to be fluent in a month, as you’ll most likely end up frustrated and demotivated. You wouldn’t force yourself to master a new tech stack in such a short period of time, so why would you expect that when learning a second language to advance your career? 

A few useful and realistic goals that you can aspire to complete at the beginning of your journey are being able to have a basic conversation, reading a book in your target language, or having enough knowledge to comfortably travel to a country where native speakers reside. It’s best to establish one clear goal and then break it into smaller objectives to measure your process more easily. 

2. Establish your second language learning resources. 

Now, once you know the goal that drives the reason why you want to learn a second language, it's time to pick where you’ll learn from. There are multiple resources available these days, from language institutes to free online courses and everything in between. You can learn casual lingo from TikTok educational creators, practice your listening skills from YouTube videos, explore Duolingo, buy a dictionary and a few language learning books,  and even connect with native speakers to do a language exchange on apps like HelloTalk. 

3. Set a study schedule. 

Consistency is key when you’re trying to retain new information as one does with second language learning. Even though many might find the idea of setting up a daily or weekly study routine to be quite tedious, this is the best way to ensure you are putting in enough effort to achieve both your short and long-term goals. Assign yourself regular study hours every day and make sure to time-block your calendar. There’s no need to overdo it either - considering that the FSI states that it takes 24-30 weeks or 600-750 class hours to reach 'Minimum professional proficiency’, one hour per day should be enough but slowly but surely make progress. 

4. Start with the basics. 

You should start your second language learning journey with the target language’s fundamentals, as you would with any process to close a IT skills gap. Concepts like the alphabet, basic grammar, common phrases, and simple workplace vocabulary will help you quickly get your foot in the door. Make sure to pay attention to pronunciation from the beginning as well, as this will greatly impact the way you communicate with native speakers. 

5. Try language immersion. 

Immersing yourself in your target language on a regular basis will help you make progress quicker as well as enhance your pronunciation and knowledge of how native speakers use everyday lingo. You can do this by listening to podcasts, watching movies, reading books or tech-related articles, and playing music in your target language. It would also be extremely beneficial if you manage to find a native speaker or fellow language students to practice having a conversation with every once in a while. 

6. Practice your pronunciation. 

Having a conversation is a vital aspect of any second language learning process. This means your pronunciation matters - whether you’re chatting with fellow second language practitioners or native speakers. Find someone to practice with and don’t be afraid to make mistakes, after all, it’s all part of the learning curve. 

7. Keep a word bank. 

Having a word bank will greatly enhance your vocabulary and make you sound less like a beginner once you start having conversations - in person or through text - or writing in your target language. You should write down new words and specific lingo, as well as your own thoughts as you progress through your second language learning objectives.

8. Find ways to stay motivated. 

While motivation is not the end-of-all way to push yourself to master a new skill - a stronger case can be made for discipline as your best ally - it’s still a good idea to remain motivated throughout your journey. There are different tactics to achieve this, from getting new writing supplies to scheduling second language learning movie nights or having ethnic food to celebrate a new milestone and going online to connect with new native speakers. 

9. Seek constructive feedback. 

While learning a second language on your own is an admirable goal, you should still seek feedback from fellow students or native speakers. At the end of the day, this is the only way to know whether you have been crying over a few mistakes or not, and to measure your progress against others knowledgeable on the subject. Don’t be afraid of constructive criticism as well, as it’ll help you hone your language skills in the long term. 

10. Be patient and persist through challenges. 

Learning a new language is no small feat, and you should never blame yourself for not advancing in your second language studies as fast as you initially thought you would. This is not a race but a marathon if you will. No matter how small, every objective that you’ve accomplished still counts as progress - so persist through any blockers and be gentle with yourself, taking breaks if you eventually need them. 

Ready To Join A Community Of LATAM Developers And Find New Remote Development Jobs? 

At Blue Coding, as a nearshore development company, our goal is to help as many Latin America developers find remote development jobs with international companies as possible. We believe that diversity and synergy can completely transform the IT industry and want to open as many doors for our LATAM people as we can. That’s why we continue to hire nearshore developers for new and exciting projects! You can join the Blue Coding community by checking out our recent openings or joining our BC Women in Tech initiative through Slack or our regularly updated newsletter. Check out our Careers page to learn more about working with us!

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