Sample Language Lesson Plans For the Self-Learner

Here are a few basic language lesson plans to help you get started learning your target language using as many tools and resources as possible. Whatever method you use should have a clear lesson plan built in but you will benefit tremendously by incorporating many other resources into your study routine. Use these language lesson plans along with the ideas on the Language Learning Tips page for a general guideline on putting together all these different resources into a coherent study plan for yourself.

Whatever core language learning method you use should give you some kind of time frame for completing the course, but this isn't always the case. If there is (like Hugo's In 3 Months series), remember that it's just a guideline, and you do not have to keep pace with that schedule if it is too fast for you, or you do not have the time to devote to it. Also remember that you should have some contact with the language you are learning everyday. The most important tool you have is your own mind. You should keep feeding it, even just a little bit, every single day.

General Lesson Plan

Core Method 1/day - 1/2 hour (min 2/week)
Flashcards 5-10 minutes everyday
Reading Material - 15 minutes
Radio/TV/Internet Radio - 15 minutes
Audio Supplement - 15 minutes

Core Method Your core method could be an all-audio method like Pimsleur or software like RosettaStone, a book and audio combo like Living Language or Teach Yourself, or even just a free online tutorial. By 'method' I mean any reasonably well structured series of lessons.

Ideally, you should work at your method every single day, preferably for at least a half-hour. This isn't always possible for many people, but try to get in a good half-hour a couple of times a week, but then the supplements become more important. If you're not studying everyday, you need to find some way to have contact with the language on the off days.

Flashcards Either buy a set or make them yourself, but use them. They are the best value supplement for your language method. Pick a stack of cards, not too many and not too few - you'll eventually find a number that works best for you, and review them once or twice a day, no more than 5 or 10 minutes. Try to get in this time when you are not studying, at a different time so you keep bringing your mind back to the language for review. If you always have some cards with you, in your pocket or in your car, you can fulfill that minimum requirement of daily contact with the language even if you miss your regular study time.

Reading Material Get yourself some reading material. Books, newspapers, magazines, readers - all will suffice. Try reading a little every day, just 15 minutes or so. Keep your dictionary at hand and write down any words you don't know and look them up. It will be slow going at first - maybe only a few sentences at a time and even when you look up the words you may not understand what the sentence is saying. Barry Farber recommends newspaper articles for this purpose. The article will be limited to a single subject so the vocabulary will be context-specific, that is, many of the words will refer to the same subject and many will be used again in the same article.

When you have progressed a ways into the language, after several weeks or months, you may actually begin to read and understand some things without working out every single word and looking them all up. It takes some hard work to get to that point but then it starts to get really exciting. That is the point where reading becomes even more valuable - when you can begin to pick up vocabulary just from context. Including written material outside of your method into your language lesson plans is a great way to begin to see the language in action. You'll see the vocabulary and grammar working in non-academic real-life situations and that will help you learn faster.

Radio/TV/Internet Radio Hearing your new language will help you in many different ways. You will pick up the rhythm of speech, you will learn how to distinguish words better when at first the spoken language seems to go by too fast and you will be better able to distinguish some of the unique sounds of the language. In time you will also begin to pick up new vocabulary and idioms just by listening.

Try listening to the language a little everyday, either from radio, internet radio, tv, movies or music. Shoot for a nice round number like 15 minutes. This is something you can do passively, while driving or doing housework, and doesn't necesarily require active participation on your part.

Audio Supplement If your language method doesn't have an audio component then get one. If it does, then get a second one. The more sources you have of hearing the language the better.

Consider this like listening to internet radio or music, except that it does require your active participation. You should be repeating words and phrases as you are prompted to do so by the method. Do the work and let their system do its work.

Try to use an audio supplement everyday, or at least on the off days of your core method. Again, 15 minutes is a good number to aim for.

When you add up all these 1/2 hour and 15 minute sessions, it may seem like a lot. But since it is broken up into smaller sessions it becomes more manageable. When you factor in that some of your study materials can be used passively or at times when you are doing something else, it becomes even more manageable. By incorporating different materials into your language lesson plans, you are creating learning synergies that can really speed up the learning process.

Language Lesson Plans Using Pimsleur This page has some language lesson plans using the popular Pimsleur audio line as its core method.

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"Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood."

- William Penn

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