17 Language Learning Tips
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#1 Divide Your Learning Material Into Small Pieces
Which would be easier to memorize?
1000 words of a story
Ten short stories of 100 words each
The answer is number two, as you might have been able to guess. People learn excellently by taking in little snippets of information. We then organize them internally into what we perceive to be sensible ways, then establish externally what we have understood. As we incorporate additional pieces of information the mind will link, collate and correlate this information into what has been previously learned.
#2 Combine The Natural And Methodical Learning Approaches
This is actually not a complicated task if handled efficiently, and despite what you might think, learning a language does not need to be expensive, although it can be if you have the means. The speediest way to learn a language is certainly by going to the particular country that speaks that language, but not everyone can do this. There are still many ways to improve your learning without taking a costly trip abroad.
Children have the ability to learn a number of languages. There is a common idea at the moment that if we can only learn to immerse ourselves in the same way that our children do when confronted with the daunting task of learning a language, then we will learn more efficiently. This is the natural method. It is how everyone learns language when they are young. In contrast to this is the methodical learning approach, which is how we are taught in school, in classrooms with direct instruction.
Each individual will have a different learning style that he or she prefers, so by integrating both kinds of learning, you can put yourself at an advantage. You can learn naturally, by purchasing a course that promises “immersion” or by speaking to native individuals, and methodically by enrolling in a traditional class.
#3 Always Carry A Dictionary!
This can be a bit of a hassle, and you might need to get a hold of a slightly larger bag than what you are used to, but it is certainly worth it. A pocket dictionary, or even a phrasebook/dictionary combination if you really don’t have the space, can conveniently slip into a bag or a pocket.
If you are travelling, and you come across a word or a phrase you don’t know, take out your dictionary and look up the word. Linking the place to the phrase will concrete it much more firmly into your mind. It seems like a simple thing to do, but it really works.
You can also apply this to walking around your local area. You can pick random items or places and look up how to say them in the language that you are learning. This links the object or scenario you are looking at with the word itself, and is invaluable in forcing your mind to fluently combine the word with the item. You can also carry a notebook around to record your freshly learned words.
#4 Go To The Cinema!
Watching foreign films is one of the easiest ways to immerse yourself into a culture without actually travelling to that country. It might be difficult locally for you to find films in the language that you want to learn, but there are plenty of websites where you can purchase these quite easily, such as the BFI website.
However, do not put the subtitles on, even if you are not able understand anything at all yet, because you will begin to concentrate solely on the subtitles and will not achieve anything from the experience. You will be surprised at how quickly you will pick some words up, and if you are really having difficulty, watching in a group can be a great way to learn as you will all be watching and trying to deduce the language. It can make a difficult task a little more fun.
However, subtitles can sometimes be helpful for learners who already advanced their learning and desire to learn the precise idiomatic meanings of some sayings. Being able to notice the discrepancies in language is part of what is wonderful about being able to speak fluently. This is a great tool in increasing your listening comprehension. Begin with a small part of the film. Listen very well and then repeat the scene over and over again until the time you comprehend every word. The next step is to imitate exactly how the words were spoken, and voila! You have your very own mini language course, and you didn’t have to pay more than the price of a movie for it!
#5 Read Newspapers
There are various ways to acquire literature in foreign languages, and many papers will have their own websites for you to buy from. Libraries are also a great place to find archived material of this kind.
If you find newspapers to be a little difficult, try a magazine. If you find a magazine to be a little difficult, try a comic book. Comic books are excellent since they are very conversational, and aimed at a younger audience. Still, once you feel you have mastered comic books, progress your way up to newspapers, and always keep your dictionary on hand.
#6 Write Letters
If you lack the confidence to write to an actual person, writing letters is still a great way to practice a more relaxed tone of voice. You will need to know new words and to think about how best to say things in the language. As soon as you begin writing the everyday things that happen as you would do in a diary, you will able to look back on how you are progressing. Your writing will enhance if you stick with it, and it will be fun to look back on how much you have progressed when you have become fluent.
#7 Think In The Language
Try to think as much as you can in the chosen second language. It sounds like a pretty difficult task, but bear with it. This is greatly important as one of the greatest issues when studying to speak a foreign language is the habit to actively translate from your language to another, instead of thinking automatically in the other language. This will ready you to become more confident and comfortable when faced with the chance to actually speak in the other language. If you will practice it regularly, it will gradually become much more natural to you.
These are very effective in studying another language. A mere ten seconds of your spare time is enough for a quick exam; pick a card and memorize the word for a term. Return to it at intervals and see how long you can remember it for.
There are many ways to prepare flashcards, from pictorial to just the words in your native language that you will then have to translate. You can buy flashcards, but the act of making them yourself is also beneficial to learning.
Don’t tell yourself that you cannot make time for this because it’s just so easy to do! Keep in mind that the next moment you go online, at the grocery store, bank, doctor’s office or anywhere, you can make sure of the words that you have learned. Even if you don’t have time for a class or to learn at home, you can certainly do this.
#9 Read read read!
While magazines and newspapers are constructed to be grammatically correct, books can often focus more on speech between characters, colloquialisms and practical knowledge about a culture. Read everything, from websites to signs to poetry to books, and you will soon find that the skills you are picking up in the lessons are being transferred to your reading ability. However, you should be interested in the content. It’s much easier to focus on something that you enjoy, than something you feel is boring.
If you have a language course that does not contain an audio component, then you should acquire one. That sounds a little prescriptive, but people respond very well to listening to a language. Listening to the language is a critical aspect of studying if you plan to actually speak it. This is also one of the easiest ways to become comfortable with a language; even if you can’t understand what is being spoken, you will still be picking up pronunciation and inflection.
#11 Online Radio
When you follow the mentioned tips, give yourself some time to absorb the latest language you learned. Radio will provide you the chance to be exposed to the latest vocabulary and new content on a regular basis. Do not overdo it with your single audio CD, but combine your present audio with other kinds of sources like radio. Not only will you start to pick up the language a little easier, but you can get involved with the culture via non-verbal ways, such as discovering what music is popular at the moment.
#12 Regular Contact
This is potentially the most important rule when studying different languages, and in a sense what most of these tips are about. You must be able to expose yourself to the chosen language daily if you have time. Learning for 10 minutes daily is better compared when you cram for 1 hour, once or twice a week. Frequent reviews of your learning, even for just a few minutes at a time are some of the most helpful things you can do for yourself.
#13 Pen pals
There are many pen pal services for foreign language speakers that you can join up to these days, as well as the immense social tool of the internet for engaging with speakers of other languages, so you can easy practice your writing skills AND make sure that you are comprehensible to a native speaker. They can assist you, and in return you can help them to learn a little of your language, if they would like. There are various free websites and forums that are accessible for you to discover other individuals that will be glad to help you.
#14 Study with Other Individuals
Practice with other peers so you can get their feedback and interactivity. You will not be able to get this personal interaction when reading only books and listening to audio software. Most people find that a slight element of competition, combined with the actual ability to speak out loud to another person in a language, can really help your learning. You can do this with local classes, or even using online tools such as Skype. Dating sites that offer friends only options can also be a great way to meet other people studying the same way you are.
#15 Have Fun While Learning
This might seem like a little bit of a vague point, but that’s because it really does depend on the individual. Even if you yourself have chosen to learn a language, forcing yourself to study alone for an hour a day, just repeating the same phrases over and over, won’t do anything to help you appreciate the language. Putting language learning aside for a moment, ask yourself what you find enjoyable. Is it music? Try listening to songs in the language you are learning. Is it being active? Try going for a run with the audio playing on your mp3 player. Do you enjoy puzzles? Look for websites with free language games. You have to ensure that you are enjoying the time when you are studying another language. Be sure that you are having fun while learning!
#16 Mistakes Are Good!
Don’t be stressed out if you can’t recall, or misspell, some of the phrases or words that you think you have learned. Mistakes are a positive part of learning, and are absolutely necessary in order to advance. In fact, sometimes learning from a mistake instead of learning the word the first time, will make that word stick a little easier in your head because you have spent more time on it. Gradually, everything will fall into place!
#17 Take your Time
Assign enough time to study another language. Set the number of hours that you will use during the week for studying, and stick to them! If you are still in school, or you are working in an office, you just don’t the pressure on yourself. Take the time to learn slowly and steadily, and this new language will be something positive you can keep for the rest of your life.