When I was in school learning French as a young lad, I was absolutely awful at it and I hated studying it. More to the point I hated how we studied it. The teacher had us write out 100's of lines everyday for this stupid guessing game we always played. I can safely say that I wasn't the only one in the class that hated it either. The only time anyone picked up a French dictionary in class was so that they could learn swear words. I studied it for almost 10 years in school and almost none of it stuck. I was bad at it that my parents and teachers decided that attending the mandatory classes in High School would have been a waste of time. A few years ago I tried to learn Chinese and failed mostly because I didn't really know how to study languages. I only knew how to learn the way we did when I was in school. So I got frustrated and ended up losing my motivation. I am currently 4 months into my second crack at Chinese and I can safely say that I have learned more in the last 4 months of studying than my previous ten years of French. I am by no means a fluent speaker or really that good at all but I want to share some of the things I've learned these past four months to help other's with their confidence. The first thing I did was change my attitude in several ways. The way I was learning was clearly not working. You cannot make someone learn a language they clearly dislike, especially in a way that they dislike. I decided to look up different online programs and read a few different blogs from language learners on how to learn languages. One theme that keeps coming up is to have measurable short and intermediate time goals. Long term goals although important don't have to be a priority because you need to be learning stuff that you can use right now. My first goal 4 months ago was to see how long it would take me to get HSK one down. Then my goal was HSK 2 and that took another two months. Next on my list is HSK 3. If I had of just said I want to learn Mandarin and then looked at the 5000 word vocabulary need to pass just the spoken part of the HSK 6 test, then I definitely would have quit again. To go even further on goal setting you can even set weekly or even daily goals to improve your language learning. I don't personally use weekly goals yet, however I do set daily ones. They don't even have to be all that complicated. I always make my daily goals extremely simply. I never say I am going to learn x amount of words or spend x amount of time studying. I simply say that I am going to open a website(I use memrise), open a book, talk to a friend in Chinese, ect... The simpler the goal is the easier it is to make it a habit. The next thing that really helped me is what I placed my focus on while learning. I focus almost exclusively on vocabulary. In my opinion all the knowledge of grammar and how the language is structured is not going to help you one iota if you do not have the words to express what you want to say or understand what others are telling you. It's kind of like having a great car but no gas to put in it. Inversely you can get a lot further sooner with just basic framework and a lot of gas. Grammar, IMHO, is something that can be learned a long the way and a little at a time while you are learning phrases and such. I don't think it's all that important to applied language learning because let's be honest, many people don't know the grammar of their native tongue yet speak it fluently. If you can get the basic sentence structure down and have the words to express yourself, then that will suffice in many day to day situations. This brings me to my next point. A few days ago I was flipping through one of my textbooks and read a sentence that translated to "Today is your birthday." I just laughed at it because I've never actually said that in English and can't really imagine using it in Chinese. It's not something I need to use. The stuff that you use is the stuff that will stick with you. The things that you talk about in English (or whatever your native tongue is) then that is probably what you are going to talk about in Chinese. Therefore the words you use in English are probably going to be the words you use in Chinese (except, ya know, in Chinese). Another thing I briefly want to talk about is the use of mental triggers to get you in the mindset of your desired language. Anything that can help you start thinking in your desired language is a good thing and should be used when you study. Often I like to listen to music while I study. However I try to keep it to tunes that either have no lyrics or the lyrics are in Chinese. Other times I will have a Chinese movie playing in the background. Really it can be anything that helps warm up your mind and keep you in the mindset of learning your language. This one may be obvious but I think it is important. You need to find a learning system that works for you. Personally I love Spacial-Repetition-Systems. Two of the best on the web, and I also use them, are Memrise and Anki. I am confident that if they had these systems in place when I was in school then I would have done a lot better. However no matter what style of learning you end up using, the most important thing is to actually use the language you want to learn. Just like you can't be a black belt without doing some sparring(unless it's Tai Chi), you won't be able to speak a new language without speaking the language. Even if you are an introvert like me, or can't find any local speakers, there are strategies to accomplish this. You can use skype to call anywhere in the world from your basement. If you're too shy for doing face to face interactions you can simply turn off your camera. One last thing I want to talk about for now is to remain positive and focus on the aspects of your new language that are easy and/or similar to your native tongue. I could harp on about how Chinese characters are not at all phonetic, or how difficult the tones are, or any number of things. But what does that accomplish other than to demotivate me? Nothing. I'd much rather focus on positive things like how basic the grammar is, how when you learn a word/character is doesn't change, or when a lot of my friends whom also study Mandarin at a much higher level than me say it actually gets easier as you advance. Focusing on the positive aspects of learning a language has done far more for me than bemoaning about the negative parts of it. I apologize if this article seems a little broad, as I wanted to go over I bunch of different things that all helped me to enhance my language learning skills. The main resources I use are Memrise, Anki and for general tips about how to learn languages I use Youku/youtube, and Fluentin3months.com. I'd love to hear your thoughts and/or recommendations for learning resources.