In my previous article we discussed the basics of learning foreign languages. To supplement your experience we will go over 5 more practical language learning tips that you can apply easily in your daily life. These tips are to assist you in your already existing foreign language learning studies.
1. CARRY A DICTIONARY: I know that sounds hard to do. I’m not talking about carrying Webster’s collegiate dictionary that would require its own backpack. You can find miniature dictionaries that can easily fit in your pocket or purse. Although it will never be convenient this is how I learned to speak French fluently. While I was in France anytime anyone said anything I didn’t understand I could instantly look it up, and then use it in my vocabulary. Also, anytime there was a French word I wanted to say I could instantly look it up. This is so important because there are so many times when you are out and you want to know how to say something but are unable to. Then by the time you get home and can look it up you have either forgotten the word or forgotten altogether and you have missed out on a great opportunity to you improve your language skills.
* One alternative that is also effective is to carry a pocket notebook where you can keep a running list of words you’ve learned or want to learn.
2. WATCH MOVIES: The great thing about English movies is that everyone wants them so that means they all get dubbed into a couple of languages. This may only work for French, German, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, or Japanese but is still a great tool. Turn on the dubbing for the language your want to learn and enjoy your movie. Don’t turn on the subtitles even if you don’t understand because you will start to focus only on the subtitles and not gain anything from the experience. Subtitles can be a good tool for learners who are already advanced and want to learn the exact idiomatic meanings of sayings. This is also a great tool to increase your listening comprehension. Start a small segment of the movie. Listen carefully and then replay it over and over until you understand every word. Secondly, mimic the voices exactly in each segment. This will allow you to learn proper pronunciation and accent.
3. READ THE NEWSPAPER: There are several ways to get Newspapers, Magazines, and Comics in foreign languages. I mention these forms of print media because they are the most conversational. They will teach you to speak and write like a native does in their natural state, not when they are trying to speak in dramatic or intellectual terms. You can find these materials at libraries, online, or for languages like Spanish and Chinese often times at your local newsstand. Most of them are free. I prefer the online sources because they are always free and easy to get. Comic books are great because they are the most conversational print material. You can see the people in action and connect with what they are talking about.
4. WRITE LETTERS: Even if the letter is pretend write a letter about your day. This will force you to learn new words and to think in the language. Although you WILL make mistakes, don’t worry, it is all apart of the process. I look back at some of the things that I wrote when I was starting and wonder what I was thinking. Even though the writings are reminiscent of the ramblings of a crazy man it helped me to refine my abilities. I can see the progress in my writings month by month they improve significantly. Don’t forget to pay attention to your Conjugations.
5. THINK THE LANGUAGE: Think as much as possible in the language. When you are thinking at anytime during the day do it as much as possible in the foreign language you are learning. Fill in the blanks with your native language but just keep thinking in the language. This is HUGELY important. One of the biggest problems when learning to speak a foreign language is HABIT. If you are not used to thinking in Spanish then how will you be able to speak Spanish This will prepare you to be comfortable and confident when confronted with the opportunity to speak the language. If you make this a habit it eventually becomes natural and extemporaneous.
Stay tuned for more articles on improving your language skills in the near future. If you have questions or requests feel free to contact the author.