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.



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