Three Secrets to Learning a Second Language

Posted by Coronado Mandarin Teacher on 11/7/2019

Chinese Characters

Practice is key! Not much of a secret; however, its importance cannot be underestimated. Repeated practice builds the connections necessary and passes vocabulary and grammar knowledge from short-term memory to long-term memory.


According to research, it can take as many as 17 exposures to a word for it to be retained - the best kind of exposure being over an extended period of time. One tip for increasing this kind of exposure is spaced repetition.

This involves repeatedly studying a set of words for a few minutes at a time. The idea is that students review them again before they forget them, and this will help them pass words to long-term memory. Apps like QUIZZLET, ANKI and MEMRIZE are built to help with this.

Persistence is key! To learn a language - whether it is studying it, being exposed to it, or using it - it is important to persist in efforts. Learning language takes time and can have its highs and lows.

Often times students will make mistakes. However, if they persist they will improve. 


Students will learn more from making those mistakes than sitting through hours of memorization. It is important to persist, make those mistakes, and then persist some more.


Most important, students need to find a way to learn the language that they enjoy. That will make all of this easier.

For example, allow children to read their favorite book in that language (it will be difficult at first), watch their favorite shows in that language, cook recipes in that language, etc. If they find a way to enjoy the process of learning a language, they will be able to follow the first two tips effortlessly!