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Success in Foreign Languages

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10 Fun Tips for Learning Foreign Languages

 

1. Make it fun! 

Use YouTube or other video streaming services to find videos of songs in your target language. You can also find other materials that introduce vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and culture.

2. Review vocabulary every day

The cornerstone of learning a foreign language is learning vocabulary. There is a greater benefit from reviewing vocabulary 5x a week for 15 minutes each than studying vocabulary for 75 minutes straight. Label things at home with their names in your target language. Work with a fellow classmate and quiz each other. Use flashcard apps on your device to learn vocabulary, or--even better--go old school and make actual flashcards. Use the Leitner system to learn vocabulary more efficiently! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leitner_system

3. Practice speaking and listening to yourself every day

Whenever you're in line to buy lunch or coffee items, think of the language that you would use to order. Practice speaking out loud! Even better, record yourself speaking and listen to the recording while you're on the go.

4. Do homework consistently

There's a reason your instructor gives you homework every day: It gives you practice in both vocabulary and thinking of sentences in a meaningful context, all while giving you the time to to think about what you're saying and writing. Doing 30-45 minutes of homework three nights a week will produce more benefits than doing all your homework in one sitting.

5. Form study groups with your classmates

Every one has strengths and weaknesses when learning, so if you form study groups, you can only build on each other's strengths. You may find that you missed an important point mentioned during class. Plus, it's more fun!

6. Know your personal learning style

If you're a visual learner, draw pictures to identify vocabulary. If you're a verbal learner, identify vocabulary in the target language with the word in your own language. If you're an aural learner who learns best from listening to notes, record your notes and listen to them while you're traveling during the day. If you're a physical (kinesthetic) learner, make gestures or trace an item with your hands while learning vocabulary. If you're social learner or solitary learner, learn either in groups or by yourself in a quiet place. Finally, if you're a logical learner, organize your vocabulary based either on gender or on word families. 

7. Review  your class notes often

Try to review your class notes as soon as possible after lecture. If you do this, you'll discover what areas of your notes are easy to understand, or if not, then rewrite the trouble areas. If you're still unsure, ask your instructor in the next class session.

8. Spend time in the language often, if possible, every day

This will increase your daily exposure to the language. The more often you see or hear words and phrases, the easier it will be to remember them.

9. Communicate often with your instructor

The only way that your instructors can gauge your progress in class is if you communicate often with them. Let them know if there's something that you don't understand, or even, if you do understand. Take advantage of their student drop-in hours to ask questions, or better, to practice your reading and pronunciation. 

10. Use the internet to find news items, comics, graphic novels, and other text materials in the target language. 

With the internet, the world is literally at your fingertips!