Sunday, 7 September 2014

Learning Foreign Languages | Tips

Today's post will be one that was requested some times already. I always said that I don't really know what to write because I don't have learning tips for studying languages.
But last time when I was doing my homework I realised that there are in fact some strategies that help me with my learning process.
Well, I can't tell if these tips are going to be useful for others, but to me they are. I am not saying that languages were always easy to understand for me, because there are some small details that I still don't get even though I've tried to learn them by heart for a longer time now.
But I'll try my best to help you!
There are some easy (more or less) rules that I know I need to follow, and here they are:

1) Be organised!
At any time! I hate it when I have lose sheets flying around and when people scribble just useless stuff on their school/college/uni stuff. I totally can't stand it as I need to have everything written down neatly and easy to read and understand.
For the last three years of school I had about 14 subjects a year, which means a lot of copies and notes. Therefore I bought myself a biig folder for one semester and I had different sections for each subject in there. This means that in just one folder I hate every single note I'd ever need for every subject. Everything in one place- amazing!
Now of course, sometimes in school I just quickly took notes and my hand writing was just horrible and it made me angry but for this reason I always copies everything on a new pretty sheet and I took myself the time to do it neatly this time so I could use this sheet of paper for my revision.
Also, always write down all the tasks you need to revise, homework, and never leave everything for the last night before school. This will just make you panic and you will just do your homework without basically keeping anything you've learned.

2) Vocabulary
Now to many people vocabulary doesn't seem too important, and I've always thought the same. I always thought that grammar was the most important part. But how use grammar without knowing any words?
Every time I've learned a new word I always wrote it down on a sheet saying "Vocabulary" with the German translation (because I spoke German in school obviously).
When I started college I got to know more and more words and the thing is that I didn't translate them into German anymore, as I get taught in English if there is something we don't understand in French or Spanish. So I had this idea of translating words into English first and then just into German as well. Let's take for example an easy French word: la maison= the house (das Haus). Of course sometimes you won't find the exact translation, just find the nearest word related you can.
It seems really unnecessary but I think that this will help me link vocabulary even faster and that this will improve my language skills.

3) Learning types
It is also good to know what learning type you are. This also can seem useless to some, but it can actually help you learn faster and more effective.
There are visual types for example who need to draw mind maps, link words to pictures, write important things in different colours. And that's what I try to do. If you learn something about a specific topic and there are maybe new words in a text or your notes- underline them using a nice colour (use one that you like!). If there is some new grammar, for example conjugations, underline or write the word endings with a new colour so that the endings pop out of the text. You will quickly realise that there is something interesting going on and just quickly read over the words until you will know the endings by heart. 

4) Watch videos!
Yes, this helps. Eryk taught me that. I always thought that this was a complete waste of time and that watching Youtube videos was just to amuse yourself. But I quickly realised that it is a lot more than that. When I was studying for my finals I took breaks after some time of revision and during these breaks I watched Youtube videos. Always in English. Basically I was watching make-up videos, random vlogs and stuff like that. And at first there were always some words that I didn't know but realised that they were used often in the videos. Even whole sentence structures. After some time you just start using these structures your self. Pronunciation is something we probably can't teach ourself, not knowing how the language sounds. These videos of Native Speakers will teach us! No matter what they are talking about, they will pronounce words correctly and due to this we can start pronouncing words correctly too!

5) Use the language outside of your study times!
This is also a thing I never used to do about two or three years ago. Every time when I wrote myself a note like "Buy a white vest on Monday" I always wrote it down in German. Because that was the language I used to think in most of the time. With time, when I started talking English with Eryk on a daily basis, I thought that it would be a good idea to start writing reminders in English to improve my skills, to use this language at any possible time. You don't need to write long sentences, even keywords will help you already.  Reading just a short note in a different language will make you think about it in the same language afterwards. If you know people that speak the language, keep in touch with them, use this language, even if you're going to make mistakes. The person speaking the language will correct you and help you! 

6) Read books!
Also, don't forget to read lots of books, magazines in the language you want to learn. This will help you with spelling. Words will repeat throughout the book and with time you will automatically know how to write a difficult word, just because you've seen it many times. I first started reading books when I was 4, in both German and Polish, which probably helped me a lot! Reading will also show you how to formulate sentences correctly, without using slang. 

I think these were the biggest and best tips for learning foreign languages, from my point of view. As I said, they don't necessary need to help you, but they are definitely worth trying. And please note: you are not going to learn a language over night. This is a process that really needs a long period of times. I'd say years. Patience will also be needed.




  1. In what language do you communicate with Eryk ?

  2. In the beginning we only talked in Polish, but with time we started to use more and more English. So now I'd say we communicate more in English than in Polish.