“I’m starting to learn a new language on Monday!” How many times have you told yourself that? How far have you gotten? Diving into the world of a new language is always difficult.
We had a chance to talk to a real-life polyglot and a teacher with 6 years of experience, who kindly agreed to share with us her experience in successful and productive foreign language learning. She asked not to reveal her identity, so we will call her Helen.
The hero of our article also had a hard time learning Korean. But she did it. She gave some advice. The following tips will be told on her behalf for your convenience and better narrative 🙂
My studies at university cannot be called a success. When you have three hours of language every day (not counting homework) and extra classes, you start to burn out and give up. It was during this period that I read a lot of articles with tips for learning a language. Alas, the standard advice of the “love your work” series did not help me.
And how many times I tried to learn by the common methods! With all my desire, it didn’t work. I didn’t want to leave the university, so I had to make up methods for myself. Surprisingly, it saved me.
In this article, I want to share my list of smart tricks. Perhaps this is exactly what you are looking for.
1. It is impossible to learn the language on your own. Get over it
Yes, I, too, have seen many stories of people learning languages at home from scratch. But how good is it? And in general, is it true? Let me explain. In the first stages, you learn not only the basics of grammar and vocabulary but also pronunciation. You can read the textbook, watch the video, and say the information aloud. But who will hear and tell how correctly you did it?
Pronunciation is one of the basic (and most difficult) parts of the language. You have to “swim into” it right away with as much understanding as possible. I started learning Korean back in high school on my own. What did it lead to? At university, I had a long and hard retraining period because, initially, I didn’t have any help with the sounds.
It’s much harder to retrain than to learn from scratch.
So it’s in your own interest to find a tutor or courses, at least for the first time. But do not forget an important rule; even learning under someone’s supervision, self-study can not be abandoned. A tutor can guide, correct, and give information, but he can’t just take it and put knowledge into you. You need to memorize it yourself.
2. Pick up the universe
In case the study is already going through “I don’t want to,” try to create your own atmosphere. You can think of comparisons of what you’re learning to your favorite world. For example, I imagined that my university was Hogwarts and my Korean classes were rune classes. When I wrote my schedule, I would replace the subjects with Hogwarts subjects and translate them into Korean. That added to my vocabulary and made learning more interesting.
If you’re a fan of K-pop music, you can set up your own agency in your room: find the right vocabulary, learn something about the work of Korean agencies, and post words and sentences around the room (for example, the agency has a cafeteria. Write a detailed mode of its work according to the rules of the Korean language and stick it on the door to the kitchen). And when you start studying, imagine that you have an hour of independent work followed by an interview.
3. If I don’t go to the locals, the locals go to me.
It’s hard to immerse yourself in a language environment if you don’t live in the country you’re learning. Create your own environment. Following the pattern from the previous tip, watch TV shows with subtitles, read books, post flyers around the room, and change the language on your phone – even if it’s not 100% immersive, it will help you a lot in learning.
4. Trite but unrecognized advice
Take away those old-fashioned sheets with lists of words, and learn the vocabulary by phrases and sentences. Yes, you can add phrases and sentences to your personal dictionary and learn them in their original form without decomposing. In this way, you will remember not only more words but also the correct use of grammar. Also, this method will allow you to pick up words more quickly in oral speech because some phrases will sit in your head whole and be correctly composed.
5. How to learn to become a tutor
I only managed to close most of my language gaps when I started tutoring. I spent a lot of time selecting material, tailoring it to the child, and writing myself an outline and detailed diagrams to explain the topic as clearly as possible.
That’s how the magic happened. I learned it ten times better when I was preparing the material to explain it to someone than I did when I studied it in class or on my own. No, you don’t have to sign up for tutoring right away. Try explaining a topic to a friend. Or imagine having to teach a class tomorrow and dive into the topic as if you have to chew on it piece by piece for someone else.
6. Always use web-services and tools – don’t get overwhelmed with organizational work
Make the most of special language services, whether they are regular test sites or personal dictionaries.
When I first started learning languages, I took on a ton of work in connection with organizing the process, finding new tests for myself, or writing out piles of words in notebooks and arranging those notebooks… It’s all a living hell. Just delegate those responsibilities to already developed programs that were originally made for it.
For example, when I first got in touch with Langavia personal dictionary, within a month I realized how effective my vocabulary training became and how much time I began to save in organizing the learning process. Conventionally speaking, here I created the necessary set of words and immediately I am checked – very convenient. And it works that way in many areas of language learning.
7. The dream is not the goal
Everyone has their own reasons for learning a foreign language. Everyone is inspired by something different. But at some point, it stops working. I’d like to have given myself this advice as an eighteen-year-old: don’t count on dreams to feed your motivation. If the dream isn’t the goal, you’ll abandon it at some point. Motivation tends to dry up, and dreams are often just emotions.
But if there’s a goal, there’s a plan. That means that regardless of emotions, the work will go on. Sometimes you just have to sit down and do it. Don’t count on motivation; develop willpower.
8. Use guides and summaries of information
After all, learning any foreign language can seem confusing, but the more you do it, the better you get at it.
By having a step-by-step guide to learning any foreign language, you will naturally acquire an algorithm that will help you advance in this task faster than average students.
And when it comes to foreign languages, systematizing the process, staying motivated, and practicing every day will definitely get you points.
My training would have been much more effective if I had seen and understood these tips early in my university years. Try experimenting; maybe, like me, you’ll get your own list, or some of these will prove useful. Best of luck!