Ever wondered just how you can study effectively and learn that language? Everyone studies differently, and every language learner has his or her own methods. Here are my personal thoughts on studying hard…
- Take it Seriously
Take your language learning seriously. If you just go along studying occasionally, it will be difficult to remember what you’ve learned. Soon you will forget just about everything, which means you have just wasted a lot of time on your occasional study sessions.
- Have right attitude
Have the right attitude about learning your language. Be positive about learning it. Get as much input as you can and you’ll see that you’ll begin to notice what’s going on in the language. You’ll see how words work together. You’ll come to get accustomed to the word orders while noticing that certain words always show up in a certain place in a sentence. To give you an example of what I mean, certain adverbs may always appear between an auxiliary verb and the past participle as in Italian.
Lui è sempre stato felice.
He has always been happy.
- Get the right materials
Get whatever materials you are planning to use to study the language. Get a hold of books or find online language learning sites that with easy content with lots of explanations to guide you on the way. It will be even more helpful if you can find books or sites that are accompanied by downloadable audio. In my opinion (of course, this book is filled with my opinions), you may not want to choose a phrase book at the beginning, because it could be too difficult to memorize phrases, and you won’t really know what the parts of the sentences represent. You’ll be better off learning to form your own sentences with words and grammar that you have already learned. That being said, phrase books are not bad at all, but are more helpful once you’ve learned your language to at least a basic level, then you’ll see that these phrasebooks can be a good, quick, and helpful reference, or just a good review to carry around with you wherever you go. Get yourself a good grammar book. The one you chose will greatly depend on your target language. Teach Yourself books and Colloquial books are pretty good, and the books are available in many different languages.
- Learns words from your personal interests
Learn words that matter to you. If you are a big sports fan and like having discussions about sports, learn vocabulary that has to do with sports. You can Google “sports vocabulary [target language]” and find all kinds of lists that will give you what you need! In other words, study what you enjoy talking about, or otherwise, vocabulary for the kind of discussions that you know you plan to have in your target language. If you set up a language exchange session with someone and you plan to talk about politics, study some words that concern politics. Use the words and construct some sentences you may want to use and write them down.
- Speak it
Speech begins with speaking. Get into the habit of vocalizing what you read. Read the sentences out loud, so that you hear what they sound like, while getting used to making the sounds. If you are worried about your accent, ask someone who knows the language (whether on person or using an app like “HelloTalk” to read the sentences for you. If you use HelloTalk, you’ll have them recorded, which means you can listen to them over and over again until they are ingrained in your mind.
Remember that it is very important to speak your way to fluency. Fluency, the way I personally define it, is being able to speak smoothly, without a lot of stopping very often to translate or recall the desired word in your mind. The more you speak. The better you get at speaking. So speak as much as possible. Whether you speak to yourself, read out loud, speak with another person, etc., it will absolutely help. Practice makes perfect. (Lots of practice.)
To learn a language well, you’ll need to put in the time. The most common excuse that I have heard from other people is “I just don’t have the time”. Yes, it can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Figure out how to use your time efficiently. For example, if you drive or take the bus or train to work, listen to some audio in the language you’re learning. Be sure the audio you are listening to is that of a native speaker in order to experience the proper accent. Even if you don’t understand it all, you’ll be training your hearing. Try to repeat what your hear as you hear it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
- Listen to the language – a lot
Listening to your language is something that can also be done while walking your dog or cleaning house. Make some flashcards or use an app like Anki or Memrise and go through the cards on your lunch break at work, or 10 minutes a day before going bed. Wake up 30 minutes earlier that you usually do and study your grammar book. Instead of watching movies in your native language, watch them in your target language. If available, use the captions in your native language, then the target language, then again with no captions. This doesn’t have to be all in one day of course. By listening as much as possible, you will become very good at it and you’ll find that it will help you to learn to speak even faster.
- Review weekly
Review what you’ve learned at the end of the week. While reviewing your lessons, you’ll will notice that things that you’ve heard will be pointed out and you’ll will often get that “Aha!” Moment. By doing this and making these associations, we tend to remember it easier.
- Enjoy the language
If you can find a system and the right materials that allow you to enjoy the language you are learning, you will be successful. No doubt!