Joined: 31 Jan 2006
|Posted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:03 am Post subject: Linguaphone Language Learning Solutions
|Language Learning Tips
Learning to communicate in another language may be challenging, but it is also a very rewarding and enriching experience. It is the best passport to discovering another culture. Here are a few tips weíve put together to help you make the most of the experience.
Find out what kind of learner you are
Ask yourself, do I learn something better when I see it written down? Do I only need to hear something a few times before I know it? Do I like to learn grammar rules by heart? Are there other strategies that work well for me? If you recognize your strengths, you can use them to work more effectively.
When learning a language, it is important to use a variety of strategies (using the book, listening to the recording, rehearsing dialogues, learning vocabulary, writing things down, listing verb forms, etc.) to practise the different skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Work out what your preferred learning style is and use it to your advantage.
Work at your own pace
Make the most of the time you have available to study. As a general rule, donít try and do too much at once. You will often find you can learn more effectively if you study for half an hour or so at regular intervals, rather than try to do a whole unit in one sitting.
With the best will in the world, there will be times when you donít feel like studying. Try not to skip your session, though, and organize your work according to your mood. If youíre tired, choose less demanding tasks such as repeating activities; if you lack concentration, read a foreign magazine article about a subject which really interests you.
Why not learn with someone else?
It helps if you can learn with someone else. If you can persuade a friend or family member to study with you, it will give you extra impetus to keep working. Agree times to meet and set goals for the week, and test each other regularly.
Remember that you can go a long way with just a little language
Even if you feel unsure about your ability to form correct, complete sentences, youíll find that it is possible to communicate with just a few words. Above all, donít worry about getting things wrong: people will still be able to understand you. They will also appreciate that you are making the effort to speak their language and will be more receptive. The more confidence you gain in actually communicating, the more fluent youíll become.
Donít get stuck by a word you donít know
Practise improvising ways of getting your meaning across when speaking spontaneously, even if you donít know the exact words or phrases. Think of things you might want to say whenever you have spare time Ė while youíre travelling, for instance. A basic example is the use of tenses. If you donít know the past tense but want to talk about yesterday, use the verb in the present tense and use the word for Ďyesterdayí. With practice, youíll find that you will improve your ability to approximate and to describe things, even if you are aware that you do not have the exact vocabulary or specific phrases. Use facial expressions, hand movements, anything to get your meaning across. The important thing is to build up your confidence so youíre not afraid of getting involved in a conversation.
Language learning is also about intuition
Guesswork is an important strategy in learning a new language and you will probably be pleasantly surprised at how often youíre right.
When listening to recorded material, you arenít expected to understand everything first time round. If you play the same piece several times, you will most probably understand something new each time. Learn to make maximum use of all the clues you can pick up. For example, what do the speakers sound like? Happy? Angry? Calm? etc.
Also, in most European languages a lot of words have a common origin, which will help you build your knowledge more quickly. After a while you should also be able to identify common patterns between English and the language youíre learning, for example French equivalents of English words ending in Ėly often end in Ėment.
Speak, speak, speak!
Practise speaking as often as you can Ė even speaking to yourself is good practice.
Try recording yourself whenever you can Ė especially when doing the pronunciation practice activities. When you listen to it afterwards, donít worry if you sound hesitant or have made mistakes. It is important to evaluate your performance. Compare your pronunciation with the master version, see how you can do better and have another go. If you do this several times, you will find that each version is better than the last.
Read aloud whenever possible: it will help you memorize vocabulary and structures. Going through the same dialogue several times is a good idea too.
Build up your vocabulary
A wide vocabulary is the key to successful language learning but donít try to learn too much at once. Itís best to study frequently, for short periods of time. Take a maximum of six or seven items of vocabulary and learn them. Put them into sentences to fix them in your mind, then come back to them later. Much of the vocabulary in the course is presented by topic. Learning vocabulary in this way is usually very effective.
Get the right tools
You may find you want a bilingual dictionary to help translate new words and expressions as you expand your vocabulary. When choosing a dictionary, make sure you pick one that gives you plenty of information on usage through illustrative examples, rather than one which only gives translations for each word with no guidance as to which ones to use in which contexts.
Alternatively, you may find a vocabulary builder useful. These are usually arranged thematically and allow you to learn lists of words and expressions associated with a particular topic.
Get used to hearing everyday language at normal speed
Apart from listening to the course recordings, you could watch films with subtitles, listen to a foreign radio station, or watch foreign language TV stations if you have satellite or cable TV. Even if you donít understand much of what is being said, it is a good way of getting used to sounds and intonations. Choose programmes according to your own interests, youíll learn much more effectively about subjects youíre keen on.
International news is a good thing to listen to, particularly if you have already heard the news in English that day. Pictures will give you clues. Youíll find that you are picking up a lot of vocabulary by making use of the subtitles especially for expressions that occur regularly.
And most of all, have fun!