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What is the best way to study languages?
Even though the task of studying a new language can appear both exciting and overwhelming, you can make the process much easier, and more fun if you follow these simple steps.
1. Be consistent
Although it’s really easy to think that you can memorise everything in a month before your exam, this is very difficult to do in practice. Learning a language is far less stressful if you learn the grammar and vocabulary as you go through your course ( this way, even the longest vocabulary lists become manageable). If you learn as you go along you will also see the links between words and rules, making the whole process more interesting, and enhancing your understanding, instead of it being just a memorising exercise.
2. Flashcards are your best friend
Whilst not all of us enjoy flashcards, they come in very handy when learning a language, and are probably the best tool when trying to remember the vocabulary and grammar drills for your course. They also help you practice something called spaced repetition, which allows to maintain consistency and ensures that the information you need to know stays in your brain for longer. Before an exam, you can also pick up just a few cards with the words/rules you are finding particularly tricky and refresh your memory before the big moment.
Not only that, but flashcards can also be helpful when preparing for speaking exams. You can note down interesting and complex phases on them and make sure you commit them to memory and use them in your exam to boost your marks.
3. Surround yourself with the language
This might appear difficult if you can’t travel to a country where the language you are studying is spoken, but modern technology helps us resolve this problem. You can subscribe to various Youtube channels, listen to podcasts, audiobooks and watch films in your chosen language. In this way, you will be able to hear and adopt the correct pronunciation and syntax; once you get to your exam you will be able to sound more like a native speaker, and confidently enjoy a conversation with people when you travel abroad.
4. Practice, practice, practice languages
In order to ensure you have everything covered it is important to practice and test yourself. A useful technique I found has been ‘blurting’ – you essentially note down a topic in the middle of a page, for example, ‘leisure’ and write down everything you know which is to do with the topic ( words, phrases, grammar rules), then cross check it with your notes to see what you have missed and note down the missed information on a flashcard to commit it to memory. Using ‘blurting’ allows for your brain to be actively engaged in the learning process and helps you consolidate your knowledge.
5. Making mistakes is okay when learning a languages
Languages are all about practice, where you will inevitably catch yourself making a mistake in terms of how you pronounce a word, your syntax or how you apply grammar. The best way to manage this is to keep practising with native speakers, or even speak out loud, write as much as possible and have your work checked by someone who has better command of the language you are trying to learn. As long as you are open to suggestions, you will be able to correct your mistakes, grow your confidence and take your language skills to the next level.