How To Structure Your Language Self-Study

How To Structure Your Language Self-Study


By Geralde Vincent-Bancroft

Self-study is just one of the different ways to learn a language. Some people learn best in a classroom setting, while others prefer to self-study. There is no right or wrong way to learn, but I think self-study is an important part of the learning process. With it, you can go at your own pace and focus on the areas that you find most challenging. You can also revisit  lessons as many times as you need to,  to really understand the material. Additionally, self-study can be more cost-effective than taking classes. However, the need for a system that guaranties progress and ultimately success is paramount. 

A lot of people want to learn a new language but most of them never succeed. The main reason for this is that they do not have a solid plan or structure in place. They might try to self-study using resources like Duolingo or Babbel, but quickly become frustrated and give up when they don’t see results fast enough. The key to success is to have a language learning structure that you can stick to. This could involve hiring a tutor, attending classes, or creating a study schedule for yourself. Having a plan will help you to stay motivated and on track, and eventually you will reach your goal of becoming fluent in the language.

How to establish a self-study structure

There are seven steps of learning, and let’s have a look at each of them.

Gathering information

Learning can be a self-directed process or it can involve input from others, but either way, there are some basic steps that are essential for effective learning. The first step is gathering information. This can involve reading books or articles, watching videos, or listening to lectures.

When you’re self-studying a language, it’s important to be able to filter out irrelevant information. There’s a lot of stuff out there, and not all of it is equally useful. So how do you know what to focus on?

First, consider your goals. What do you want to be able to do with the language? If you’re hoping to become fluent, you’ll need to focus on different things than if you’re just trying to learn basic conversational skills.  If you’re just starting out, beginner-level material will be more appropriate than advanced material. Once you’ve got a clear idea of your goals, you can start looking for materials that will help you achieve them.

Make sure the source is from a reputable organisation or individual. If it’s a website, see if there’s an About page that tells you who runs the site. If it’s a book, check the author’s credentials. Second, see how recently the information was published – depending on the subject, outdated information might not be as useful. 

Next, take a look at the materials themselves. Is the content well-organised and easy to understand? Are the explanations clear? Are there practice exercises that allow you to check your understanding? Do other language learners recommend it?  Any self-study resource should be user-friendly and effective, or you’re just wasting your time.

By taking the time to filter out the bad stuff, you can make sure that your self-study is as effective as possible.

Creating notes is a great way to help remember the information you just learned

Creating notes for self-study

 Once you have gathered the necessary information, the next step is to process and organise it in a way that makes sense to you. This may involve taking notes, creating mind maps, or making flashcards.

When self-studying a language, it’s important to have some sort of system for processing and filtering the information you’re taking in. For me, that system is creating notes. I try to distil each lesson down to a few key points, and then write those points out in a way that makes sense to me. This process not only helps me understand the material better, but it also allows me to reference specific points later on. 

Creating notes can be a great way to help remember the information better. Seeing the material written out in front of you can help cement the concepts in your mind, and refer back to them more easily later on. Plus, taking the time to deliberately write out the notes can also serve as a helpful review tool in and of itself. 

Additionally, by having to explain the concepts in my own words, I’m able to catch any gaps in my understanding. In short, creating notes is an essential part of my self-study process, and it’s something I would highly recommend to others.So if you’re looking for ways to boost your self-study routine, try making some notes next time around – it just might help you better retain the information.

Note-taking tips

self-study can be a great way to improve your note-taking skills. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Start by reviewing your notes from previous language sessions. What worked well? What could you have done better?

Make your notes straight away after your language session – listening to a podcast, watching a film or video, reading an article or a book- while the information is still fresh in your mind.

Experiment with different note-taking methods until you find one that works best for you. Some people prefer a notebook, pen and paper, some others feel much more at ease using note-taking Apps like notability because they can access it from any device and anywhere.  Some people prefer to use bullet points, while others find it helpful to write out full sentences.

Pay attention to the main points and key details as you take notes. It can be helpful to highlight or underline important information as you write.

Have a colour-coding system like blue for new words, red for highlighting new grammar points, green for verbs. You can experiment and find the system that suits you best.

Always write down new words and find their meaning straight after the session, also write a few sentences using these words to put them into context.

It is important to revise your self-study notes periodically

Revising your self-study notes

One of the best things you can do for your studies is to revise your notes periodically. self-study can be pretty tough, and it’s all too easy to fall behind or forget what you’ve learned. By going over your notes on a regular basis, you can help to keep the information fresh in your mind and make it easier to retrieve when you need it. This is especially important if you’re preparing for exams, as you’ll want to be able to access all the information you need quickly and easily.Revising your notes can also help you to identify any gaps in your understanding, so that you can focus on filling them in. All in all, it’s a great way to improve your self-study habits. 

Always summarise key findings

Self-study is a great way to learn a language, but it can be difficult to keep track of everything you’ve learned. Summarising your findings can help you both remember what you’ve learned and identify any gaps in your knowledge. When you summarise your findings, you condense a lot of information into a more manageable format. This can make it easier to review later on and identify any key points that you need to review. Summarising your findings can also help you communicate your learning to others more effectively. If you’re able to summarise your findings clearly, it will be easier for others to understand what you’ve learned. So, next time you’re self-studying, try summarising your findings at the end. Which brings me to the next point.

Teach what you learned to others

Tell a friend or your online language learning group. There are plenty of benefits to self-study, but one of the best things about it is that you can teach what you just learned to others. When you’re the one who’s been tasked with teaching a new concept or skill to someone else, it forces you to really understand the material. It’s one thing to be able to do something yourself, but being able to explain it to someone else is an entirely different level of understanding. In addition, teaching what you just learned helps solidify the information in your own mind. It’s a great way to make sure that you don’t forget what you’ve just studied. 

Teaching what you just learned helps solidify the information in your own mind.

Create associations

One way to ensure that you retain new information is to associate it with old concepts that you already know. This process of linking new and old information together is often called “spaced repetition” and it is an effective way to improve your memory. When self-studying, try to create connections between the material you are trying to learn and concepts that you are already familiar with. For example, if you are studying for a history exam on the American Revolution, try to remember key events by associating them with the Fourth of July. This will help your brain to more easily recall the information on the spot because you have created an extensive neurological pathway- connections. In addition, self-studying can be more effective when you take breaks and give yourself time to process

Keep a digital diary

If you’re self-studying a language, having a digital diary is a great way to keep all of your most important language information together in one place. I like to use Onenote for this purpose. I create a separate notebook for each language I’m studying, and within each notebook, I have a section for grammar, vocabulary, cultural notes, and so on. This way, I can easily flip through my notes and review the most important information. Plus, it’s always backed up online, so I don’t have to worry about losing anything. If you’re self-studying a language, definitely give Onenote a try. Trust me, it’ll make your life a lot easier.


For language learners, self-study can be a great way to learn. But without a structure, it can be easy to get lost in the material or become bogged down by memorisation. That’s why having a self-study structure is so important. By breaking the material up into manageable chunks and setting aside regular study times, you can ensure that you make steady progress towards your goals. And because you’re in control of the pace and content of your studies, you can tailor the experience to your specific needs and interests. So if you’re serious about learning a new language, self-study is a great option – but be sure to create a structure that will help you stay on track.

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