The decision to learn a new language is normally quite an easy decision. Whether you want to be able to chat with the locals on holiday, find the closest good supermarket, or request a tax number when arriving in a new country, making the decision to learn is the easy part. The difficult part comes when you start to learn. Who knew it would be this difficult to speak German? Why does Portuguese have so many different tenses? How do I use the subjunctive in French?
Well, we are here to help! Since lots of the SPEAK courses have just began, and we have more starting in the next few weeks, we have come up with 10 tips on how to make your learning experience a bit smoother:
1. Commit to it: When learning new languages, you aren’t going to get anywhere by being lazy. Go to all the sessions that you signed up for, listen to what your volunteer teachers tell you and take their advice! They are there to help you, so commit to the language by following their advice.
2. Don’t be afraid to TALK: Many people in foreign language classes avoid answering questions or speaking in class because they’re worried about making mistakes. Try to leave this at the door and dive straight in, get involved!
3. Ask questions: If you are unsure of something in a foreign language, you won’t learn unless you ask! Teachers are there to answer all of your questions and help you to understand their language better.
4. Word of the Day: Go to an online dictionary for that language and decide on a ‘word of the day’ in that language each day. Try to use it in various different scenarios throughout the day so that it really sticks in your mind! Doing this will quickly widen your vocabulary!
5. Practise at any opportunity: It may well be easier just to use your home language in that restaurant or shop, but use these occasions as opportunities to practise! Especially in restaurants or shops, there are lots of short, easy sentences you can practise, to help you with pronunciation and boost your confidence!
6. Make mistakes!: Yes, it can be a bit embarrassing to make mistakes when talking to someone in their native language, but they will help by correcting you. And the more awkward the better, you’re more likely to remember the mistake and avoid it in the future.
7. Read in the target language: Whether it’s a novel, magazine or just a leaflet, pick up bits and pieces that you can read on the go. Doing this will get you more familiar with the language, and make longer texts seem much less daunting!
8. Listen to the radio: As well as playing songs in the target language, radio stations have presenters who will give their shows in the target language. This is a great balance between listening to great music and concentrating on your listening skills!
9. Make it a habit: Set up a routine to keep up your language. Whether that’s reading on the metro, listening to the radio on the way to work, or going over vocabulary for an hour in the evening, having a routine will help you to keep up your language learning.
10. Attend exchange events: Meeting up with other language learners to practise and exchange language knowledge is a great way to practise. They will give you native advice on their language, and you may even make some new friends! Not to mention, they’ll be really grateful for your tips too.
Seeing progress in your language learning is a really rewarding feeling! We hope that you take on some of these tips and get on well with your new classes! If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here, and keep an eye on our events page to see when we plan to meet up next!