10 tips to learn languages? Don’t believe everything you read!
1. Take it easy. Don’t do anything new. If your language learning method until now consisted on signing up for a course, hoping you’ll learn just by sitting there, do it again. Everyone knows that trying to be in touch with the new language outside of the classroom is absolutely useless. One learns in class. From the teacher. Do not attempt to talk to your classmates, or to other people: you’ll just catch bad habits.
2. Make vocabulary lists. Put everything on them. The longer and more random, the better. It is a stated fact that putting things on a list will make you magically learn the new vocabulary.
3. Watch films and series in your target language, but remember to switch on the subtitles in your mother tongue. This way, you’ll make sure you know what’s going on, even if it has little to do with the original, and you miss most of the jokes.
4. Put down your phone! It’s always a distraction, and it won’t help you at all, unless you use it as a dictionary. That’s right: translate every single new word you come across to. It may take twice the time reading any text, but think about all the new items for your beautiful list! Don’t change the settings to your target language, or download apps to learn (Quizlet, Babel, Duolingo… None of them!)
5. Forget about the social media in your target language, or the newspapers: it’s too difficult anyway. Starting to understand the culture and the language in a real context is too much of an effort. Why would you change your settings to a different language? Just don’t.
6. Listen to music, but don’t try to check or pay any attention to the lyrics: you’d get frustrated from the amount of words and expressions you can’t understand. And do not attempt to sing along: it might improve your pronunciation a great deal, but, come on, be considerate to your poor neighbours! Specially, stay away from Lyricstraining.
7. Before speaking, make sure your pronunciation and grammar are absolutely perfect. Otherwise, nobody will understand you, and you’ll just embarrass yourself. Remain silent until you are sure you won’t make a mistake!
8. Buy a grammar exercise book (the thicker, the better), and fill it in from cover to cover. All research shows that this will help your communication skills.
9. If you don’t look at least a bit puzzled by now, you might be a lost cause, but I don’t think so. You’ve guessed correctly: please ignore the advice above. What is more: DO EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE.
10. Now seriously, find a good course, and a good teacher. That’s key; but remember: at the end of the day, nothing will work until you do. Get luck, and have a nice summer!
Author: María Eugenia González de la Casa