The New Year has arrived! If you are like me you like to set yourself new challenges, whether it is getting fit, eating less or acquiring new skills. Improving a language you are learning may be one of those challenges, so to help you get started, we have compiled ten helpful tips. These can be applied in everyday situations. We hope you enjoy them.
1. Make a vocabulary list
We all have busy lives and have so much information that we need to absorb every day. When learning a new language it is important to build your vocabulary database, we recommend that you buy yourself a notebook or use the notes in your smartphone to keep as your personal language learning diary.
2. Make yourself think in your chosen language
Picture yourself on holidays in a coffee shop looking to order something off the menu and you struggle on what to say to the waiter. A situation that we all dread. Why not start thinking about these everyday tasks in your chosen language. Whether you want to book an appointment at the doctor or order a cappuccino, practicing these scenarios will make them less daunting. And don’t forget to take notes so that at the end of the day you can look up the words you did not know earlier.
3. Record yourself or study out loud
Pronounce the words out loud to yourself as you study. You will remember them more easily and you will be able to practice your pronunciation at the same time. If you are not sure about your pronunciation then record yourself, this will often help you master tricky words..
A great way of increasing your vocabulary is to read a lot of articles, books, magazines, etc. From children’s stories to daily newspapers, choose the correct material according to your level of English. Every time you come across a word you do not know, look it up in the dictionary and write down its meaning in your mother tongue. From there, try to write one or two examples of daily situations in which you could use this word. If you find a use for the word you just looked up, it is more likely that you will remember it, especially if you brush up on your vocabulary list regularly.
5. Watch movies with subtitles
Watching movies with subtitles is a great way to improve in your chosen language. It is important that the film and subtitles are both in the language you are learning as matching the sound of a word with both its spelling and the context in which it is used maximizes your learning during the movie. Keep your notebook/smartphone nearby: take down the words and expressions you do not understand as you watch the movie and once the film ends, take a few minutes to look these words up.
6. Sticky notes (your new best friend)
For those everyday objects around your house or those words that just aren’t sticking in your memory, why not write the word on a post-it and stick it on the object. The more you see it, the more you will remember it.
7. Use your new knowledge
All of these tips mean nothing if you do not try to use your new knowledge. If you learned six words or expressions on a given day you should try to use them the day after. For instance, you can do this while on your way to work or out for a walk. Our brains can absorb a lot but the words you learn will soon be forgotten if not used. Just like a muscle, your brain needs to be exercised: every little effort you make to use new words in everyday life situations will help them become ingrained into your memory
- Online tools
Do you commute to work or school? Why not use this time to listen to some of the great podcasts in your chosen language or brush up on your pronunciation with a wide range of language apps available
9. Conversation, Conversation
The most important tip but also the most daunting for most people. Remember everyone learning a language has to start somewhere, just take the jump and try. One of the most important things in learning a language is to process it. This is where all your learning starts to stick in your memory. Looking for someone to converse with, why not try one of the many language exchange sites online.
- Have fun
Most importantly learning a new language is fun and exciting. Recognise your progress and use your language for ultimate enjoyment.