Study Advice

Learning a Language - How it's Done

By Eimear Dinneen - 4 minute read

There's no denying it, languages are hard. However, 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. In this blog, we've put together some tips 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; have you tried enough ways and for long enough? 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. There are some great free apps out there such as Duolingo that are so helpful when you're trying to practice. 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. 

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 that you can do a language tandem with. Apps and websites like Tandem or Lang-8 could be options for you.

Listen

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 practice using our aural revision 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 that 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. Alternatively, try some podcasts, there are dozens of good ones in every language for beginners and upwards on any podcast platform. You mightn't think you're learning much with this method, but it's all about training your ear; trust me, it will help.

Watch

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 brain works is, that 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).

Exaggerate

This is with regard 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 pronounce 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? It's just you and the examiner in that room. If it'll get you more marks, do it.

Start early

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 your phone or certain apps to whatever language 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 practicing 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. 

Bonus

If you want to hear more advice on learning languages and succeeding in the oral exams, have a listen to our Studyclix Podcast, where Eimear and Nessa talk about their experiences and tips!

Finally

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!

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