Language Learning Tips – How to get the most out of your studies
Whether you are taking classes, are one of those brave souls who has the discipline for self-study, or something in between, having a variety of tricks up your sleeve to keep up your language
learning practice is always a good thing. Ideally, you want to be doing something every day. You may choose to have 1 or 2 days a week when you spend 60-90 minutes focusing on the language, and then have a mini-practice of 5-10 minutes for your off days. The most important thing is to set yourself up for success, so it’s important to choose a rhythm that you can stick to.
If you find that you are not able to keep up with your schedule, it just means the schedule is not right for you, not the other way around! Sure, language takes time, but the rewards and the satisfaction of making progress are so worth it! Here are some ideas:
Set a Goal: Your goal can be anything from being able to order in a restaurant when you go to Italy next week, talking about the weather with your in-laws, learning as much as you can for a trip 2 years from now or becoming fluent. If you’re going for something bigger, set goal posts for yourself. Everything is a win when you make each step a goal.
Learn: Try to do a little self-study every day. Anything from Duolingo to workbook exercises are a great way to get that regular exposure.
Memorize: Nothing wrong with the old flash card method to solidify vocabulary. You can choose 5-10 words a day that you have to translate into the language you’re learning (not the other way around). You’re done when you get 100% right without looking.
Self-Test: For any language that has verb conjugations, giving yourself a daily verb test is a great way to get those patterns in your head. If you are working on the present tense, just take a quick look at the verb of the day, try to write it out without looking. If it’s all correct, you’re done. If not, do it again. If you still get something wrong, the third time will surely be the charm.
Listen: Newscasts, music, soap operas, there's a lot to choose from out there. If you can get your hands on an American movie or show that is dubbed into the language you are studying, not only will you already know the plot, you’ll find the pace and language to be slower and more standard.
Read: There are lots of options here, textbooks, stories written for learners, newspapers, magazines, Wikipedia pages. Even if it’s just a paragraph, that’s something.
Write: Keep a journal, write a summary of a story you have read, jot down what you will or did do over the weekend.
Speak: This is the really important part and the hardest muscle to use. Having a class is great to keep that in check, but, if you want to supplement or you are in self-study mode, try to use your language at any opportunity with anyone you encounter. New York has lots of ethnic neighborhoods and restaurants where you can strike up a conversation with a native speaker. Meetup is a great option too.