5 Top Tips on How to Learn a Language (Part Three)

Pascale Chauvot

9 Feb 2016

Our latest blog article of top tips on how to learn a language continues on from parts one and two.  If you have followed our advice to-date you should be getting closer to your goal. Read on for more top tips.

1. Set the right pace

When following a language training course, regular practice or study is much better than irregular bursts of activity. It is also important for you to vary the kind of activities you do as well, otherwise you will soon become bored.

You’re likely to remember 20% of what you read and 30% of what you hear … and a staggering 90% of what you see, hear, say and do

Vary between listening tasks, online grammar activities, graded readers and online chat, etc. when learning your chosen language. Some learners might be frustrated at how difficult the level of language available to them appears. This is why graded readers and learner magazines are great. It is advisable to buy these with accompanying  audio so that you can continue doing listening practice.

2. Remain realistic!

Try to remain realistic about how long it takes to learn a language. If you attempt to find quick fixes then you risk being disappointed. It is also a fact that learning a language is not like learning how to ride a bicycle: language is easily forgotten when it is not practised.

Therefore, an important aspect of learning is also maintaining what has been learned during your language course through recycling.

3. All you need is love

A person, who is interested in the culture of a country where the target language is spoken, is probably more likely to feel motivated to learn the language. If you do not know about the culture, then try to find out some things that might interest you. If the culture does attract you, then you are more likely to want to do some research and visit the country.

4. Spend your time wisely

The difference between such sentences as ‘He lives in York’ and ‘he is living in York’ is not very clear to French speakers

Don’t spend time unnecessarily studying language points that are similar if not identical to those in your own language. Information is available that gives advice on which points need more attention than others.

For French speakers who are learning English, for example, Catherine Walker in the book ‘Learner English’, states that ‘French shares many phonological characteristics with English. French speakers do not have great difficulty in perceiving or pronouncing most English consonants, but some vowel sounds present problems’. The French speaker therefore knows what pronunciation areas to concentrate on.

Therefore minimal pairs such as ‘leave and live’, pull and pool’, ‘paper and pepper’ should be focused on. As far as grammar is concerned ‘The French and English grammatical systems are very similar in most ways’ (Catherine Walker). There are some important differences, however, such as the fact that French has no equivalent of the English progressive or continuous form.

Therefore the difference between such sentences as ‘He lives in York’ and ‘he is living in York’ is not very clear to French speakers.

In terms of vocabulary, certain false friends should be a priority. Some examples of these false friends are: actual or actually (the French ‘actuel’ means ‘current’ or ‘present’). Ignore (The French ‘ignore’ means ‘not to know’). ‘Pass an exam’ (The French ‘passer un examen’ means ‘to sit’ or ‘take an exam’)

5. Do not forget to enjoy yourself

You’re likely to remember 20% of what you read and 30% of what you hear

Finally and most importantly, learning a language should be fun and it will only be fun if you focus on subjects that interest you. If you are interested in politics, the environment, sport or cinema, for example, it is a good idea to use the Internet as a source of vocabulary and articles that relate to these areas.

For higher level learners, buying a magazine in the target language is a sure way to increase language learning motivation. Doing something in the target language is a great way to practise. Playing on-line games alongside or against opponents from other countries can help.

Recent research in adult learning shows that ‘you’re likely to remember 20% of what you read and 30% of what you hear … and a staggering 90% of what you see, hear, say and do’.

We hope you found these top tips on how to learn a language useful. Keep checking back to discover the latest blog articles on the world of languages and language learning.

 



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