Thursday, December 29, 2011

How to Study Foreign Languages

Mastering a foreign language really can take years of hard work, but it is surprising how much can be picked up with even a small amount of regular practice such as with tutoring.   Language skills tend to deteriorate quickly when they are not used. Make sure to practice any language that you learn regularly if you want to keep your ability.  Ask us how a tutor can help.
1   Label your stuff. This is a good step to start with because it's fun, plus it will help you pick up some vocabulary quickly and build your confidence. Using sticky notes or something else that won't damage anything, look up words in your dictionary and make small labels for anything you see regularly. If you don't like having labels all over everything, you could also make labeled posters or picture books with common objects.
2   Learn some grammar. This is an unfortunate part of studying foreign languages, but it's hard to avoid unless you can immerse yourself in daily life around the language of your choice. Otherwise, get a simple grammar book and start doing exercises. Learning to conjugate verbs is a particularly important skill.
3   Make specialized vocabulary lists on topics that interest you, for example words relating to your career or hobbies. These are words that you are most likely to actually use in conversation, plus they may be more interesting for you to study.
4   Make flash cards of your vocabulary lists and verb conjugations, plus any other words you find that you need. Write the English Word on one side and the foreign equivalent on the other side. Carrying the cards with you and pulling them out whenever you have a few minutes of down time can be a very convenient way to study foreign languages. Practices guessing the English word first, then when you’ve mastered that, guess the foreign word from the English.
5   Whenever you think about it, try to construct sentences in your mind describing what you are doing or thinking about.
6 Practice writing short compositions. If you get stuck you can look for hints in your dictionary or grammar book.
7   Try to find a partner who speaks the language you are learning or at least someone else who would like to learn that you can practice with. There is no substitute for real conversation.
8   Immerse yourself in media in the language of your choice. Watching movies is a good way to hear the correct pronunciation of words. Reading is also an important skill. Starting with children's books can be the easiest way to do this, eventually working your way up to magazines and eventually full-length books.