Avoid doing these 5 things when learning a foreign language
Learning a foreign language can be a tiring and challenging process. You are trying to perfect your pronunciation and grammar every day, yet, it seems like nothing has changed. Many researchers assume that children are better at comprehending foreign languages. They believe that the human brain perceives more new sounds at early childhood. That’s why so many kids that live in bilingual families can speak both languages perfectly.
But, what an adult learner can do? Not everyone learns a foreign language in childhood. Most of us get to the necessity and desire to know another language at teenage or adult years. Is there a way to improve the learning process? By eliminating these five things, you will be able to learn any foreign language more effectively.
Many beginners start creating a glossary of unknown words writing down the foreign word and its translation to their native language. But, it is not the right approach to memorizing words. If you know the translation of the word, you will continuously be translating the phrases in your head and spend more time on finding the right equivalent.
What you should do is to think in another language, not translate. It’s better to write down the meaning of every word or phrase you want to memorize than translate it. Your task is to start thinking in a foreign language. Knowing the definition, you will understand what the exact word means (even if you don’t remember the translation of it) and be able to convey your message faster.
Don’t stick to one textbook
Most of the students use a textbook to learn new words and practice grammar rules. There is indeed the wide selection of textbooks categorized in different levels. They contain vocabulary, grammar section and exercises, which creates the logical system for step-by-step learning and helps to grasp each topic more deeply.
But a textbook shouldn’t be the only source for you. You won’t hear how people really talk and express their thoughts in that language from a textbook. Language covers much more than just texts and exercises: it’s a combination of cultural and ethnic features.
So, if you want to learn better, look for various types of content, such as YouTube videos, films, podcasts and TV programs in that language. You can even watch IGTV or Stories of famous influencers on Instagram by using the Instagram tracker app. Surround yourself with different material in another language, and you will be impressed with the results.
Don’t focus on your mistakes
When trying to communicate in a foreign language with other people, we often may feel ashamed and embarrassed about our pronunciation. But then, when you’re finally able to think about your small talk and analyze what you’ve said, you begin to understand how many mistakes you did and start despising yourself.
And that’s an entirely wrong attitude.
Learning a new language, it’s so easy to feel insecure when you talk to a native speaker. But imagine the opposite situation. If a friend of yours or acquaintance starts learning your native language, making little progress and lots of mistakes, will you judge them? Most of the people will say no. What we often do is say “you’re doing a great job!” even if we notice the mistakes.
As we allow other people to be wrong and make mistakes, why don’t we allow ourselves the same? We all should treat ourselves kinder. So, the next time you have a chance to speak a foreign language, do it and embrace your mistakes to eliminate them in future.
Don’t procrastinate in language-learning apps
There are lots of useful and well-designed mobile apps that promise to help you pick up new words and learn languages faster. Memrise, Duolingo, Babbel and similar tools offer interactive games and quizzes, which are meant to help you learn better and quicker. Flashcards may indeed help you to memorize individual words. But, such apps don’t really improve your knowledge of the language and waste a lot of your time.
Memorizing the meaning of the words taken out of context takes huge amount of time. That’s because you need to learn the meaning of the word by heart, without “feeling” it in a sentence or abstract. Language-learning apps project an image of progress in learning. But they don’t enhance your skills considerably. Cut down on the time you spend using such apps and focus more on active learning, like reading a newspaper or listening to a radio program in a foreign language.
Don’t expect too much from a teacher
Getting individual lessons from a teacher is one of the best ways to study a foreign language. Such lessons will give you an opportunity to practice communication skills and ask for some additional explanations of grammar rules.
Although the teachers are helpful, you shouldn’t rely too much on them. Many students blame their tutors and get disappointed every time they don’t see the progress promised. But listening and absorbing the knowledge require patience many students lack. Teachers can help you, but they aren’t meant to put the grammar and new vocabulary in your head. As Haruki Murakami once said: “There are things you can only do alone, and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount.” So make the most of any individual lesson and revise the materials thoroughly before the next one.
Language is a very complex and multi sided phenomena; thus, you will need to be productive and persistent to comprehend a foreign language in its various manifestations. With all the ‘don’ts’ you can have an impression that language-learning is boring. But whether it’s boring or fun depends on you only. Creating a favorable atmosphere for studying, you will enjoy the process and discover many exciting things for yourself.