Understanding a language – 10 things need to know | Education | The Guardian

1. Make practical, specific goals

You have decided to understand another language. Now what? On this recent live chat our panellists first piece of advice was in order to ask yourself: what do you want to achieve through when? Donavan Whyte, vice chief executive of enterprise and education in Rosetta Stone, says: “Language studying is best when broken down into workable goals that are achievable over a couple of months. This is far more motivating and practical.”

You might be sensation wildly optimistic when you start but planning to be fluent is not necessarily the very best idea. Phil McGowan, director in Verbmaps, recommends making these objectives tangible and specific: “Why not really set yourself a target of being capable of read a newspaper article within the target language without having to look up any kind of words in the dictionary?”

2. Remind yourself why you are usually learning

It might sound obvious, yet recognising exactly why you want to learn a vocabulary is really important. Alex Rawlings, a vocabulary teacher now learning his 13th language, says: “Motivation is usually the very first thing to go, especially among students that are teaching themselves.” To keep the particular momentum going he suggests recording 10 reasons you are learning the language and sticking it towards the front of the file you are making use of: “I turn to these in times of self-doubt.”

3. Focus on what you want to learn

Often the conversation around how to learn a language slideshow into a debate about so-called conventional v tech approaches. For Aaron Ralby, director of Linguisticator, this particular debate misses the point: “The issue is not so much about online sixth is v offline or app v guide. Rather it should be how can we put together the necessary elements of language for a specific objective, present them in a user-friendly method, and provide a means for students to comprehend those elements.”

When signing up to a particular method or even approach, think about the particular substance behind the style or technology. “Ultimately,” he says, “the learning takes place within you rather that outside, whether or not it’s a computer or book or even a teacher in front of you.”

4. Read for pleasure

For many of our panellists, reading was not just great for making progress, but probably the most rewarding aspects of the learning experience. Alex Rawlings explains that reading to get pleasure “exposes you to all sorts of language that you won’t find in daily life, and normalises otherwise confusing and complicated grammatical structures. The very first book you ever finish in the foreign languages is a monumental accomplishment that you’ll remember for a long time.”

5. Learn vocabulary within context

Memorising lists of language can be challenging, not to mention potentially boring. Ed Cooke, co-founder and leader of Memrise, believes that organization is key to retaining new phrases: “A great way to build vocabulary would be to make sure the lists you’re learning originate from situations or texts that you have skilled yourself, so that the content is always related and connects to background encounter.”

6. Ignore the misconceptions: age is just a number

You really are a monolingual adult: have you missed the chinese language boat? Ralby argues “a crucial language myth is that it’s tougher as an adult”. Adults and kids may learn in different ways yet that shouldn’t deter you through committing to learning another language. “Languages are simultaneously organic and organized. As children we learn dialects organically and instinctively; as grown ups we can learn them systematically.”

If you’re still not really convinced of your chances, Ralby indicates drawing inspiration from early philologists and founders of linguistics which “learned dozens of languages to encyclopaedic levels as adults”.

7. Do some revision of your native language

Speaking your first language may be 2nd nature, but that doesn’t indicate you understand it well. Kerstin Hammes, editor of the Fluent Language Weblog, believes you can’t make great progress in a second language before you understand your own. “I think knowing your native language and just usually how language works is so important before you launch yourself at a couple of foreign phrases.”

8. Don’t underestimate the importance of translation

Different approaches may be necessary at various stages of the learning process. When you have reached a certain level of proficiency and may say quite a bit, fairly accurately, Rebecca Braun, senior lecturer in The german language studies at Lancaster University, states it is typical to feel the slowing down in progress. “Translation,” the girl says, “is such an important physical exercise for helping you get over a certain level that you will reach as a language student … Translation exercises don’t allow you to paraphrase and force the learner onto the next level.”.

9. Beware of fluency

Many from the panellists were cautious of the F-word. Hammes argues not only is it difficult to establish what fluency is, but “as a goal this is so much bigger than it deserves to be. Language learning never halts because it’s culture learning, private growth and endless improvement. In my opinion that this is where learners go wrong”.

10. Go to where the vocabulary is spoken

It might not be an option for everyone but Braun will remind us that “if you are seriously interested in learning the language and getting direct satisfaction from what you have learned, you need to visit where that language is spoken”.

Travel and living overseas can complement learning in the class room: “The books and verb graphs may be the easiest way to ensure you expose you to ultimately the language at home, but the people as well as the culture will far outclass all of them once you get to the country where a foreign language is spoken.”

Read the full discussion here.

This content was originally published here.

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