Sunday, 6 September 2015

Language Learning Tips and Tricks

First thing's first, just to make sure we are on the same page: no tips or tricks, no matter how awesome they are, will get you start speaking a foreign language after studying it for a couple of months as if it were your mother tongue. Nope. Not a chance. How many years have you been speaking your native language? Here you go. It just doesn't happen overnight.

The good news is learning a foreign language is SO much fun

you will not want it to stop once you've started.

Now to the tips and tricks as promised :)

P.S. There will be 7 tips in total so keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming posts!

Tip 1. Choose a good and fun study book.

These usually come with audio materials, workbook and additional materials available online. If you study English, there are loads of books available from the Oxford and Cambridge universities, for example. For German Hueber is a well-known publisher.


Whatever book you choose, make sure it's suitable for your level (elementary, intermediate, advanced), your purpose of learning the language (business, tourism, passing IELTS, TOEFL, etc.) and that the book is fun! So, if you are a teen don't choose a book for senior citizens with texts on how to do gardening and sewing! Not sure you will find one anyway but you get the picture.

Study books are a great basis for your language learning as they have all four language skills covered, i.e. reading, writing, listening and speaking, and each study unit is built around a specific topic which helps you structure your vocabulary learning, e.g. immigration is the topic for Unit 1 of Headway Advanced.

With any new topic there will be new words and phrases which  you will need to learn for you to recognise when reading and listening and eventually to use in your writing and speaking. You can write them down in your notebook in two columns 'word/phrase - translation' to learn them. But if you have other joys in life than practicing calligraphy and later trying to find 'that phrase' in a pile of old notebooks that have been gathering dust on your shelves, then you are better off using a bit of technology like vocBlocks.

With My vocBlocks you can create a separate vocabulary block for each unit of your study book and drop all the new key words and phrases there. Memoriser will organise effective learning of these words and phrases for you so you could not only recognise them while doing your reading and listening tasks but also actively recall them for your speaking and writing tasks. Another good thing about Memoriser is that it will remind you to revise your vocBlocks later so the vocabulary you spent time on learning once will not get stale.

You can also use your study book as a guide helping you to identify topics on which you could boost your vocabulary. For example, you could choose to learn or revise vocabulary from a ready vocBlock 'Countries & Nationalities' when studying Unit 1 of Headway Advanced I mentioned earlier in the post, as nationalities and countries are important vocabulary for the topic of immigration. Thus you will not only know the words and phrases given in the study book on this topic but will have built more comprehensive vocabulary around it.

I have talked a lot about vocabulary in this post and I feel some pairs of bewildered eyes staring at me and lips mouthing the sacred word 'grammar'. I admit I have been deliberately avoiding this elephant saving it as a topic for the next post. So, don't miss it!

And in the meantime let us know in the comments below what study book you have chosen and why it is good for you!

You might also like other tips and tricks:

Tip 2. Get a good self study grammar book

Tip 3. Get some fiction books you would love to read

Tip 4. Choose some non-fiction read including newspapers

Tip 5. Choose some movies, TV series and comedy shows you would love to watch

Tip 6. Get some of your favourite songs with lyrics

Tip 7. Connect with someone who has good level of your target language, native speaker ideally

Pressed for time and cannot read it all? Check out our slides with these tips and tricks.

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