Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Strategies to learn a foreign language

Learning a foreign language could be easier than you expect. You must work different skills such as reading, writing, speaking and listening. Just attending a class a few hours every week is not enough, you must work every day a bit at home. Obviously, the best way is to live in the country where the target language is spoken. Although, if you do not have the chance, you can improve so much in your home country.

There are some strategies you can follow in order to learn a foreign language properly, although, I strongly believe that the key word you cannot forget is "motivation". The following are some strategies to help you to success. They are useful for any language you wish to learn (English, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, Czech, Romanian, Vietnamese, French, Korean, Arabic, Hungarian, Polish, Bulgarian...).

1. First of all, be self-confident and strongly believe that you can get it. You know probably that learning a foreign language is hard but it is not impossible.

2. Enjoy yourself. Make the most of the new language, culture and all the things you will learn and the people you will meet.

3. Study every day for short periods of time several times a day. You do not have to do always the same activities. You can do the homework, watch videos, listen to the radio, read a bit, write a friend and brush up vocabulary or grammar points. If you feel a bit bored try listening music in the target language or watching a funny video.

4. Look for native speakers penpals with similar interests. You can use new technologies to practice. Use a chat or e-mail and practice your writing skills, moreover, you can talk with Skype, Yahoo Messenger or Msn and impriove your speaking skills. There are several sites to contact people (e.g. babelan.net), just search for them.

5. Take advantage of all available resources. They are great to broaden your skills:
  • Reading: you can borrow books or newspaper from the library. In internet, there are thousands of pages that you can read in the target language.
  • Listening: the chances are endless, video pages, radio stations, tv, podcasting...
  • Writing: make new friends (penpals) and write them, you can also try building a blog in your target language and write about your hobby, interests or whatever you feel like.
  • Speaking: you can talk online with native speakers.
6. Do the homework. And later you must revise it, only what your teacher has corrected. Do not learn what you do not know it is correct.

7. Buy a small notebook. Write down new vocabulary, phrases, grammatical points, idioms, etc. It is really effective to read articles or books and write down the new words you come across. Later, you can revise them..

8. Do not worry about making mistakes. Your partner or teacher will correct you. In addition, you wil learn from mistakes, everytime you make a mistake you will notice it and improve.

9. Increase the amount of contact you have with the language (e.g. change to the target language on your computer, mobile, e-mail acount, calendar, etc.).

10. The best tip of all is linguistic immersion. If you have a chance, travel to the country of the target language. Study and work there. Or just visit the country for holidays.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Five strategies to better learn... a language

Thanks to Twitter I stumbled on a post called Five Strategies to Better Learn Spanish in TopArticleInfoBlog.info. It tells some good tips to study Spanish (or any language). Here's those strategies:

Five learning strategies

- The first learning strategy is a simple one, and one that might not appeal to many people. This strategy is simple: Turn off your TV, turn off your radio and find a quiet place to study Spanish with no distractions. It is amazing how many people like to have background music playing when they are learning, unaware of how counter-productive it can be. If you need to have background music, then choose Baroque, and then preferably strings, rather than brass. Baroque music played on strings has actually been shown to be beneficial to learners.

- The second strategy follows on from the first. Don’t slob out on the bed, especially on your front, when you are trying to study Spanish. Sit at a desk or a table, if possible, with a comfortable, but straight-backed chair and make sure your materials are within easy reach. You don’t want to have to break your leaning state over and over again, by having to retrieve items you need from elsewhere, such as a highlighter, or a pen. You can read a book for pleasure while sitting or laying on your couch, but when you need to learn something, such as in this case Spanish language, even though you might be home, you still need to replicate a classroom or a library setting to help you learn faster and more effective.

- Strategy three: You will be amazed how many people approach learning Spanish without first asking themselves why they are learning it and what they want to achieve with it. Having a concrete reason to learn Spanish makes your brain focus more on the task. With learning Spanish this step is vital because it is essentially a brain-oriented task. And if you get bored or bump into an obstacle, your brain will veer off to another world, you will lose your focus and learning Spanish will become a nightmare. So, write down the reason why you’re learning Spanish and what you will accomplish with it, and have it next to you to remind yourself when and if the going gets tough.

- Strategy four: Study the Spanish language for short periods of 20 to 30 minutes each, and take breaks of about 10 minutes in between. It’s a new language and it’s literally a new world to you. Your brain will get overwhelmed pretty fast. Experts have found that our peaks of learning information tend to come at the beginning and the end of a session. In other words, we remember material more easily that we learned in the first few minutes of a session, and the last few minutes. Therefore, creating many beginnings and endings in one learning session would increase the amount of Spanish you are able to take in, and more importantly, recall it later when you need to use it.

- Strategy five: Breathe deeply and relax at your 10 minute breaks and not get on the phone or watch TV. That will break your concentration. Close your eyes, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth a few times, slowly and evenly. This helps prepare you for your next 20 to 30 minute study session.

If you want more hints, read the previous post Ten Commandments for language learning.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...