Language Learning Tips

by : James

Language learning tips

Master a language in seven days with our unique language teaching system...

You’ve probably seen numerous ads like the above. Well, I’ve either been studying language, teaching languages or studying how to teach languages for the last ten years, and I’ve never come across someone who can do that.

The average number of words a person can learn in a day is around 7 or 8 – while you may be able to better than this, you are never going to learn the thousands of words necessary to master a language in seven days.

Nevertheless, there are a number of ways you can help yourself.

1. Linking words

I learnt to do this by using the link word books. Use images/ or connections to help you remember words. For example, when I wanted to remember the Indonesian word makan (eat) I just imagined my mother (ma) eating from a can (kan). When you need to recall the word, just think of the image.

2. Using cards

I used to keep cards with the Indonesian word written on one side and the English word on the other side. I’d keep them in my wallet and whenever I had five minutes I’d get them out and review them. When I had learned them I’d keep them – a few weeks later I’d pull them out to check I hadn’t forgotten them.

3. Learn high frequency words and phrases first.

It’s no use learning words you will only use once a year. You need to start with the words you will use most often.

4. Don’t always use a dictionary.

Dictionaries can sometimes impede progress for two reasons:

i. Translating words can be frustrating:

It is often better to struggle on, and try to work out meaning from context, than to waste time finding low frequency words every two minutes, If the word is important, you can be sure to come across it again – and again, and again.

ii. Dictionary definitions are not exact:

A good dictionary will give you the best approximation (there are many bad dictionaries in Indonesia!) However, many words can’t be translated exactly, or have their own special context. If you work out the meaning of a word by repeatedly hearing it in context, you will gain a better understanding of that word. And remember – this is how you learnt a language the first time round!

5. Learn phrases rather than just words

When you learn a phrase you don’t have to worry about the grammar that connects the words – you automatically use it correctly. It also means that you from the start you use the words like a native speaker, rather than joining the words together in ways that may seem logical to you but will sound strange to your listener.

6. Keep a notebook.

I used to write down useful new words I came across, and also words I needed to know in English. This way you can study the words that you really need to know.

7. Don’t allow failure in schools to stop you from trying

It is perfectly possible to do abysmally at languages at school, and become a proficient speaker in a foreign language when you are in the country. However, without the belief and confidence that you will succeed, you won’t.

8. Practice speaking at every opportunity.

Practice is essential. As you speak you will be reviewing and recycling the vocabulary you have learnt. Although you won’t understand a lot of what you hear, you will understand some things from context – and after a while new words and phrases will magically appear in your vocabulary.