- Education and Science
Things you should do when learning a foreign language
English is not my mother tongue, but as you see, it is now on the level that allows me to write articles like this one and have my thoughts shared. However, it wasn’t always that way.
I began seriously learning English seven years ago. Apart from going to college where I was taught English by great teachers and doing my homework, I had to do a number of other things at home to speed up my progress.
Learning a foreign language is a long process, but with an extra effort you can quicken it up and make it more interesting for yourself.
Generally, knowledge of a language can be divided into four stages:
Below are the tips which help to improve different aspects. Some of them may work better for you, some less, but it's worth it to give them a go.
Read and read a lot
First of all reading is very useful for the visual learners, seeing the text boosts memorisation of the words. While reading you can also see the way words are spelled, which helps to improve writing. See, how one thing leads to another?
Regardless on which level your language is on, you can start to read small articles on the Internet (on the subjects that interests you), or read newspapers, but the best is to make yourself to read a book.
At first you might understand only 30-50% of the text, but it’s alright. You don’t have to keep a dictionary by your side to translate every single word you don’t understand; it would be a way too distracting. Instead, you should learn to guess things from the context and translate the most interesting and most frequently met words.
It took me about 4 months to read my first full book in English. My English was at the “Entry 2” level at that time. I read a page or two a day and really had to push myself. Now seven years on, if a book is very interesting I finish it within 7-10 days.
How many languages can you speak?
Listen to the music
Listening to the music in the language you are learning helps with understanding different pronunciation and accents. You might come across new words in the lyrics and singing along is a very good way to memorise new words.
Audio books are your friends
Those, who begin to learn a language, involuntary rely not only on hearing, but also on seeing while having a conversation. The reason for this is looking at the speaker’s mouth helps us to absorb the information better. However, when you have to make a phone call you have to use only your listening skills and make do with it.
With the help of audio books you can improve your listening and understanding. Audio books are extremely convenient as you can listen to them anywhere: in a car, at home, on a walk.
Watch TV programs and movies
If you live in the country of the language you are learning watch TV, otherwise watch DVDs. I can’t emphasise enough how much it boosts understanding and extends the amount of words you know. Switching on subtitles is also very useful while watching movies.
Learning more languages
What language would you like to learn / are learning?
If you have a hobby, find a forum in the language you are learning sign up there and make written conversations with people. Start from putting together small simple sentences and slowly move on to longer ones. Don’t be put off your slow speed of writing at first, remember the more you write, the faster it will become.
There are other little things you can do like when making a list of shopping, try to use words in the language you are learning, even if you know only half of the needed words for the list use them anyway. Such tiny bits of practice make difference too in the long run.
Enjoy your learning and may it be fun!
Update: Two months ago I began to learn French and I really enjoy the process! I found a few on-line radio stations I like in French and try to listen to it at least an hour a day. Also I started reading small articles on-line and with all this I can already see a visible progress.