Five tips for improving your language study

May 11, 2016
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Anyone who’s studied a second language knows that if you want to become at least semi-fluent, your language practice needs to extend beyond the classroom. Taking your language skills to the next level is no easy feat, but there are plenty ways to do so if you really want to make the most of your language studies.

Study abroad

Perhaps one of the best ways to really familiarise yourself with a language is by immersing yourself in its mother country. Studying abroad allows you to practically apply your language study to your everyday life, which is the best kind of practice you can get.

Not only that, you’ll be able to learn heaps about the country where the language derives. More often than not, language idioms or word origins are rooted within a country’s history or culture, so becoming familiar with these can help inform your language study, and help bring your understanding to a deeper level.

Find a native language study buddy

If travelling is out of your price range, the next best thing is to find a native speaker to practice with. Try looking in cultural societies at uni, or ask around for friends and family who might be fluent in that language. There are even apps that can connect you with a native speakers from around the world.

Having a regular partner to talk to can help develop your conversational skills, as a native speaker can correct you on errors you might be making with pronunciation. What’s even better is finding a partner who is learning English. You can help with their English, and they can help with your second language! It’s mutually beneficial.

Watch TV shows or movies with English subtitles

This technique is a perfect form of guilt-free procrastination; you can brush up on your language skills and sit back and relax at the same time. Watching TV shows and movies in your second language is a great way to work on your listening skills. It also helps you to familiarise with how the language sounds in its everyday use.

Generally, listening to a language spoken at a regular pace is one of the more challenging parts of language study. But exposing yourself to it regularly will be a greatly beneficial for mannerisms and body language too. It’s more likely going to be an effective way of learning some new vocab and informing you about cultural norms, which in turn enriches your language experience.

Use language apps

Language apps make the monotonous task of writing and remembering words enjoyable with games and challenges. What’s more, you can take your language study around with you in your pocket, so any time you’re bored you can just crack it open. A lot of language apps are free to install, but require in app purchases for the whole experience. If you can afford the purchases, apps are an effective way to study a second language that you can take with you anywhere.

Change the language settings on your phone

Changing the default language on your phone or on websites such as Facebook is a good way to test how much you already know and apply your studies to everyday life. You’ll already know what most of the commands mean in English, so you’ll be able to learn some new social media vocab, which is very applicable in today’s Internet culture.

Having a second language under your belt is an important tool to have, but becoming fluent or at least semi-fluent requires you to be proactive about your learning. If you incorporate these techniques with your usual studies, this can help you to engage with the language in the best way possible. If you keep at it you’ll be impressing native speakers in no time at all. 

Kim Koelmeyer

Kim is an Arts (Journalism)/Law Student at Deakin University and deals primarily in memes.

Image: Nisa Yeh, Flickr Creative Commons license

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