Here’s a quick cheat sheet of 3 tips on some of the most important things to bear in mind to learn any new language:
We learn languages from input. This is what we read and what we hear. We practice and process what we learned through output. This is what we write and what we say. We have two ears and one mouth, two eyes, and one brain. I listen and read twice as much as I speak and I write.
Chunks and Tasks
Languages are learned in meaningful chunks. Keep the focus completely on communication.
When you’re first learning a language, you need to learn chunks of meaningful phrases and words. For example, I’d like or I need, instead of learning all of those words separately. Not only have you learned several words in one meaningful chunk, you can use those to communicate right away.
Get working in a phrasebook or create your own using Google Translate and Google Sheets. Google Translate gets better and better all the time because it scans documents certified to have been translated by humans and is always improving.
Create your own lists of meaningful chunks to complete a task. A task is a specific communicative purpose. For example, a task might be ordering coffee in a restaurant. It can be as simple as saying hello to someone or as complicated as talking about the politics in your country.
Notebooks and Journals are Invaluable
Use a notebook or a phrasebook to collect your tasks. Learning a language takes time. However, small periods of time add up.
Spend a few minutes a day doing something with language. I love to play games with languages like crossword puzzles and apps.
Journaling is an effective, inexpensive way to study languages. A fun beginning journal activity is to pick a theme. For example, things in a house. You can draw out your dream house and the items in it, and then label all the items. Think of any vocabulary theme you might want to learn. The possibilities are infinite.
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