Effectively learning a new language

I'm trying to teach myself both Cocoa and Ruby/RoR, the first of which is coming along much better than the latter. And I think I've finally narrowed down the reason why I, not struggle, but lack motivation to learn a new language.

I've learnt a variety of languages over the past decade, each language has become another in my arsenal which allows me to better pick the tool which will get the job done the best. Generally the norm is that I better learn a language if there is a reason for me to in the first place. This gives me a sense of knowing where I am in understanding the language even if it's the basics that I need. I, for one can not learn a language without applying it to what I'm looking for as a result.

Some of you may know that I've been trying to learn Ruby on Rails which hasn't gone so well - perhaps because I've only wanted to learn it "just because". I've never had a goal to reach; with Cocoa however I've had an aim and although I'm still working on it, I could probably create a few simple "apps" if I was asked to - with my bible next to me of course.

So to effectively learn a new language, whether it's computing or linguistic try applying it to something you want to make, *or *re-make something you've previously developed in the new language. Obviously the last idea only really applies to computing languages.

Do you have any tips on learning a new language?


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