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Language learning tips

I’ve been a bit delinquent on posting links this Monday; it’s because I am working on an ongoing New Year’s resolution — to remain an active language learner. I enjoy learning languages more than almost anything else, so it’s a very good use of my time.

Over the years (and the languages), I’ve received quite a lot of tips on how to learn. Some of them you’ll have heard before; others may be new!

GENERAL

  • Lots of cultural centers offer classes at a range of prices.
  • Duolingo is good to practice basic structures and vocabulary. It won’t help you once you hit a solid intermediate level, but it can be a great way to start or review.
  • The best trick I know for¬†immersion without travel: seek out restaurants and cultural centers! People at many of these places will be happy to help you practice. (If you can travel, even better.)

SPEAKING

  • Find a language exchange partner. If there’s nobody local to you, make a pen-pal or Skype language exchange partner.

LISTENING

  • Watch movies in the language you want to learn. Instead of turning on the subtitles in your language, put them on in the language you want to learn. Even if you don’t know all the words, it will help your oral comprehension.

READING AND VOCABULARY

  • Put your devices into the language to learn technical terms.
  • Read newspapers in the language. If you’re up on the news in your own language, you’ll be able to figure out most of the vocabulary.
  • When you read in the language, read twice. The first time underline words you don’t know but don’t look them up, and the second time, go ahead and use a dictionary.
  • Seek out reading material with everyday vocab. Specialized magazines can be great for this — fashion, hobby mags, you name it.
  • Mystery novels tend to be fairly easy to read and have a lot of everyday vocabulary. (They also tend to be translated from English, which means you’ll have simpler sentence structure than in many languages.)

WRITING

  • Write your diary in the language you want to learn. That way, you’ll figure out which everyday words you don’t know.
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