Study Methods for Foreign Language Learners

Communication between nations and people has never been more important. It seems communication is the only way to avoid conflicts, form alliances, and understand new cultures. Now more than ever, people are reaching out to other around the world in order to gain a better understanding of the things and people around them. That being said, more and more students are undertaking the grueling task of learning a new language. Foreign languages are rarely easy to learn, and often pose a huge problem in the way of study habits. It often takes someone many trials before finding the study method that works best for them.

These days there are many options for learning new languages: community colleges, universities or technical colleges, online or audio programs, or simply by purchasing a book at the local bookstore and reading through it�over and over again. Whatever method you choose, these tips can help you to take your studies more seriously and learn the language of your choice a little faster. Try to choose several methods that work best for you and use them continually. If you get bored, devise a similar method that uses the same sort of principal but provides a new challenge by which to study.

1. You’ve heard it a million times before. “Practice makes perfect.” Well it is still as true now as it was when you first heard it. Practice is the only way to ensure that you can actually put practical use to the knowledge you gain. Additionally, the confidence you have in yourself will increase and you’ll feel much more comfortable using the new language as though it were your own. Try to find a study partner or native speaker to interact with. By keeping a regular dialogue between you, you can gain a better understanding of the accent, grammar usage, and other subtleties in the language which are not so easily gained through book reading or formal instruction.

2. Depending on the language you are learning you can pick up some movies in that language. English, French, German, Chinese, Italian, Indian, Japanese, and Spanish are probably the easiest to find; but through the internet anything is possible. Use that as a resource and see what you can find. Movies provide an interesting way to improve listening skills, learn new vocabulary, grammar, and even some interesting slang.

3. Try to focus your studies. Besides what has been given to you to study in your books or by professors, pick ten to twenty new words you want to learn each week. If the words are hard or in a foreign alphabet you might want to choose on the lower end. For more familiar languages choose on the higher end and be sure to study them everyday.

4. Keep track of new vocabulary or phrases in a notebook. This helps you to expand your vocabulary when listening. It also helps to jot down words you don’t understand so you can check their meaning in your dictionary when it is convenient.

5. Label key items in your home. This may sound a little tacky, a little cheesy, and maybe a little childish, however it really works. It you are always seeing this name on the item you will begin to associate that item with the name posted. You will also begin to see this item when the name is mentioned. You can use something as simple as a post-it to stick it to the item, or write it on a piece of tape and stick the tape to the item. It’s an easy way to learn vocabulary for common items around the house. Additionally, this principle works for other things as well. If you want to learn a new phrase, word, letter, anything, create a post-it or small paper with the new things to learn printed on it. You can post these in areas you often look. For example on the mirror in the bathroom, by the door, or in the kitchen over the sink. It may be an embarrassment when people come over, but it is a sure fire way to learn those new vocabulary words without sitting down and repeating them for hours on end.

6. Last but certainly not least, pick up some books written in the language you are learning. Practice reading through them and recognizing words you know. Any words you don’t know you can always look up in the dictionary. You can keep these new words in your notebook or even add them to your ten to twenty words a week. It’s a great way to see how much you have learned and can comprehend in its written form. Additionally, it’s a great way to view grammar. These can also be read aloud for pronunciation practice.

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