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Tips for Studying A Foreign Language

It's very difficult to learn foreign languages, but those who speak second languages enjoy enhanced schooling and job opportunities. People who speak foreign languages typically:
  • Can converse with people from other countries and cultures
  • Are self-confident
  • Are heavily recruited by companies and government agencies
  • Can conduct more extensive research since they can analyze research published in foreign languages
Study Suggestions:
  • Practice speaking in the language you're learning daily. Every concept learned during a classroom lecture builds upon future concepts. Don't procrastinate studying since you'll set yourself back. Plan on studying 2 hours for every hour spent in class.
  • Never miss a class and actively participate in classroom discussions. Students often miss class because they plan to make up for it by studying, or they're self-conscious about their language skills. Do not worry about what your peers think since they're probably just as self-conscious. Likewise, class time is the best place to practice speaking.
  • Get to know classmates to have study partners and feel at ease while you practice speaking. Likewise, your new friends can provide encouragement and motivate you when you do not feel like practicing.
  • In addition to working hard, implement effective study strategies. Take time to learn about what will be tested on upcoming exams. Most tests cover grammar, listening comprehension, and reading skills. Be sure to understand the language well-enough to write original sentences.
Tips for the Specific Skill Areas
Students learning foreign languages are tested on their ability to write, read, speak, and understand the language they're learning. Children learn to speak new languages by listening to adults. They typically learn to read after speaking for 5 years. Adults do not have the advantage of learning at the slow pace children learn at. Adults must spend time studying grammar, speaking, and memorizing vocabulary words. Utilize these tips to enhance foreign language study:
    Grammar
    Although studying grammar is boring, it's impossible to learn a new language without understanding how its structured. To enhance understanding, compare the grammar from languages you're studying with English. Have a well-rounded understanding of grammar by speaking, listening to native speakers, and writing.

    Listening
    Begin learning new languages by listening to native speakers. Don't hesitate to speak what you hear. If you're new to a language, refrain from watching foreign films since the actors typically speak very fast and use unfamiliar words. Most students who watch a lot of foreign films focus on reading subtitles rather than listening to the actors. Do not read anything while listening to audio since you'll be less focused on it.

    Speaking
    Speak aloud when practicing a foreign language. Don't be self-conscious when practicing with classmates. Most people speaking foreign languages struggle with pronunciation. It takes time to become comfortable speaking a new language. Additionally, do not be hard on yourself if you make mistakes. It's part of the learning process. The most effective way to learn a new language is by speaking it. Keep notes of the mistakes you make. Never hesitate to speak when asked by the professor since he or she will demonstrate how to pronounce words you misspeak.

    Reading
    Refrain from translating every word read in a chapter or section since it's ineffective. Instead, focus on context and understanding. Once you've read a section, translate new words. Also, read aloud. Speak new words by creating original sentences to improve comprehension. Students who focus solely on learning new words typically struggle implementing them into original sentences. Learn new words by creating and studying flashcards. If possible, ask a person fluent in the language you're learning explain how certain words fit into sentences. Likewise, ask this person to provide example of when it's appropriate to use vocabulary words you've recently learned. Students focusing exclusively on learning new vocabulary often get burned out. It's difficult to master a language without understanding context.

    Writing
    Most students leaning new languages struggle with writing. It takes years of practice to effectively write in a foreign language. After some practice, you will more than likely be able to write simple paragraphs. Good writers are detail-oriented and learn from mistakes. Have a native speaker or your teacher review what you've written and offer suggestions. Refrain from asking your teacher or a native speaker to correct mistakes without explaining why you made them.
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