Learning a Language: How It's Done
There's no denying it, languages are hard. Whether you're doing Irish, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Italian or whatever your chosen language is, unless you have a natural flare for the language, getting a high grade in it can prove tricky.
This is not however, a reason to give up. There are so many ways of improving a language, so many resources and so much help out that that you just can't get with other subjects, so take advantage of these I've put together some tips below on how to get your languages up to scratch.
Change your attitude
Like I said above, you can't just give up if you think you're useless at languages. Languages can't just be learned overnight. If you think you're useless, maybe you should rethink it, is it just that you're being lazy? I've been there too, you just need to push yourself and be proactive.
Improving a language requires work, you have to actively learn lots of verbs, vocab, grammar, etc. If you're really motivated to get a good mark in your exams, you'll make the effort.
Use interactive resources
There are so
many resources out there for languages now, we are so lucky to live in an age where we can use internet and technology for learning a language, so don't waste that privilege. There are some great free apps out there such as Duolingo or LeVocab
that are so helpful when you're trying to practise. They're fun too so it's not a chore.
Spend some time online and do a little research, I can't stress how many resources there are out there for you. We even have some on Studyclix on each subject page within its resource box that you can have a look at!
Find a partner
Ok, this might be easier said than done, but if you're really motivated you can give it a shot. There are lots of people out there who want to improve their English, and in exchange, they'll help you with their language. It's a win-win situation, so try to find someone like this to maybe skype every now and then and practise speaking in their language.
If you're not into face to face contact you can try Lang-8
which is a site where there are native speakers ready to exchange messages to you in their language and correct any mistakes you might make.
An important part of any language exam is the listening comprehension. How do you improve your skills in this? By listening to the language of course! This doesn't mean listening to past aural exams all the time (although you can do this as well, and practise using our aural tool
:) ), but you can make your study so much more interesting by listening to radio, podcasts or music/songs in your chosen language.
There are apps that you can download which let you listen to radio from all over the world, so you could find a chat show in France, Spain, etc. and see how much you can understand. You mightn't think you're learning much with this method, but it's all about training your ear, trust me, it will help.
This ties in to my point above. not only can you listen to stuff, but watching things will help with your aural comprehension too. I used to watch France 5 on my TV and there used to be some funny programmes on. You never know what you'll find, and it's definitely worth a try anyway.
Alternatively, you could try videos. There are loads of native speakers on YouTube who do little videos of the most important things when learning their language and things like that. Again, just do a little research and you can find some great stuff out there.
Make a vocab book
This is always a good idea. Everyday in class and at home when you do homework, you'll be looking up and learning new words. Unfortunately however, the way your brains works is, if you don't use that word again within a week, it'll disappear. Therefore, you need to write the word down, and look over what you've written down a couple of times after that. That way it'll stick. Keeping a separate book for all your new vocab is just good sense and it helps you stay organised and tidy, making your life stress-free (or less stressed at least).
This is with regards to the oral exams. You'll probably think, Oh I sound so stupid if I roll my Rs,
but trust me, it'll pay off in the exam. If you're doing French, really prononciate that throaty R sound, if you're doing German really exaggerate that "ch" sound. The more you exaggerate, the more you sound natural. Someone with a thick Cork accent saying a French sentence, for example, will sound a lot stranger than someone exaggerating a French accent while saying a French sentence. There's really no need to be embarrassed about it, who cares at the end of the day? If it'll get you more marks, do it.
You can't become fluent in a day, it's just impossible. You need to start studying and following these tips ASAP if you want a high grade. Loads of students think they can start cramming everything about a language in just weeks before an exam and it can't work. There's too much to learn. Be clever about it and start now! You could even start by changing your language on Facebook to whatever langauge you're studying. It's not difficult to figure out and you'll be learning without even thinking about it, it's ideal.
Never stop practising
Learning a language is a continuous process, it doesn't just stop when you think you know it all. If you stop studying and stop practising your language, your skills will just fade, and there's no cheat to it, you just have to keep studying all the time. It seems like such an effort sometimes, I know, but doing this can really pay off when you see how much you've progressed and languages can open up a massive world of opportunities to you if you put in the effort.
So there you have it, yes, it's a workload but it's worth it if you want those high marks.
We at Studyclix are always here to help out if you need anything and we wish you the best of luck with your languages and your study! :)
Eimear from Studyclix and Applied Languages student