Tips to promote effective language learning (from a language teacher)
When it comes to learning English or other languages, it is easy to be overwhelmed by a constant stream of new vocabulary, tiny prepositions which totally alter the meaning of the sentence, or other students who seem further ahead.
There are no secrets to learning a language. If you are reading this post, you have mastered French already, so there is nothing to stop you from learning another language!
Here are 3 top tips from a language teacher:
- Studying a little often is significantly better than trying to learn a lot in one go.
Some students dislike learning languages because it is near impossible to cram the night before an exam. The reason apps like Duolingo do so well is because they break a language down into manageable chunks. But you do not need an app to do this. Each day, spend 5 minutes learning three new words. Simply read your notes from your language class and pick three words you do not know and learn them – don’t forget to learn the gender! If you do this every day for a year, you will have learned 1,095 new words which is a huge boost to anyone’s vocabulary.
- Pay attention to verbs.
Often in school, teachers do not spend enough time learning verbs with their students. Similar to the above advice on learning vocabulary, I recommend choosing a Verb of the Week. Pick a verb in one tense and stick it up where you will see it regularly (bathroom mirror, back of the driver’s seat, phone background). Whenever you see it, read the whole thing out loud (multiple times if possible) and pay attention to the spelling (particularly in English where many letters are not pronounced…).
- Celebrate each success.
Learning a language is hard and it can be a lifetime’s work. However, the fantastic thing about a language is that knowing a little makes a huge difference. With subjects like physics or chemistry, you need to be an expert before really being able to use your knowledge to make a difference. With a language, knowing how to introduce yourself and order a meal abroad can make people warm to you. Knowing a little vocabulary can help you find your way home if you are lost. Every little bit you learn allows you to know a little more of another culture, and meet people with different opinions, ideas and mindsets – so celebrate every achievement!
As parents, you can help your children learn a new language by suggesting one or more of the above tips. Maybe you will even learn more of a new language yourself!