Studying (and mastering!) a foreign language takes effort, perseverance, and patience. Simply taking language classes is not enough to become fluent. However, by focusing your energies wisely and making small changes in your habits, you can make the most of your class time to achieve fluency much more quickly. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this blog and learn some of our best tips to learn a new language quicker.
1. Use your vocabulary lists creatively
Being engrossed in your classes might lead you to believe that you’ll never forget the new words you hear. Unfortunately, there are usually so many of them that it’s impossible to keep up with them using your memory alone. Use writing. The act of writing down a word helps our minds remember it better, and keeping word lists is a fantastic way to practice this.
But do you know what’s even better? Using those lists, of course! To optimize your vocabulary list, try to get used to categorizing new words and then relating them to their meanings; this practice allows your brain to process each one. To get started, use one of these best “list keeping” techniques- or combine them all!
Divide your page into three columns: the word, its function (noun, verb, preposition, etc.), and its definition. As soon as you hear a new word, update your list. For example: “surgeon”, “common noun”, “operating doctor”. Hide the columns when you review to make the exercise more challenging.
Color code new words according to their use, e.g., function, topic (travel, work, food), or linguistic usage (slang term, formal/informal speech). Using colors will allow you to find the associated words and self-test quickly.
Boost your memory by including an example of a word in context. Did your teacher use it in a sentence or draw a picture on the board to stimulate memory? If so, copy it down. Using the word in context will keep it from slipping from your mind after class.
2. Avoid your native buddies
While you may have signed up for classes with a friend or befriended someone from your country, you will need to resist the temptation to work together in class if you want to learn. Why? By working with a native speaker, you will not challenge yourself and, in difficult situations, will be tempted to use your language.
On the other hand, being brave and reaching out to someone new and different- with whom you cannot verbally cheat! – will force you to work harder to understand your new language and be understood in return when you use it. And honestly, isn’t that the main reason you’re in class?
3. Talk, talk, talk
Now, we’re not asking you to be like those students who interrupt the class, gossip incessantly, and take up the lesson on their own. They are not generous with their time with their classmates. However, you will not maximize your learning by refusing to interact. Remember that your teacher is there to help you: if you have questions, doubts, or requests, voice them!
Articulating your problem out loud (especially in a foreign language) is excellent language practice and often allows you to see a solution before it is even given to you. When learning a new language, you don’t make progress by brooding about your doubts but by dispelling them. And who knows? Maybe another student in the class, who had the same question, will also benefit from the teacher’s answer!
4. Be a consistent presence
You know the scenario. You sign up for a Mandarin, Turkish or Spanish class as excited as a child on the first day of summer vacation. The first few classes go very well, but “life” takes over. Work intensifies. Friends come to visit. You accidentally miss your alarm clock. And eventually, your brand new goal of learning a foreign language falls by the wayside.
Too many students are eager to learn in the beginning, then drop out after a week of classes. The unsuspecting fact is that the majority of students will not make it to the end of their course of study in the long run. Make sure you don’t! How do you motivate yourself to attend class consistently? Try:
Remember why you chose to study. Paste inspirational quotes on your computer or mirror, talk to friends and family about your goals, or imagine yourself- and the happiness you’ll feel- once you’ve achieved your goal.
Immerse yourself in the culture of your chosen language. Eat the food, watch the movies, read about the country or countries in which it is spoken, and look for news articles about current events there.
Book a flight. By doing so, you will have made a commitment to travel and should feel as comfortable as possible in your chosen language!
Sound off in the comments section below, and tell us what you want to read next and if you want to read more about learning a new language.