1. INTENSITY OUTSMARTS LENGTH OF STUDY Any experienced language learner will tell you that studying intensively for a year, around 4 hours a day, trumps taking University classes for 4 years. Many language learners tend to put limits on their learning ability. “If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” ~Bruce Lee Yes, you will forget things you have studied, this is natural and impossible to escape, but in order to start speaking and understanding a different language fast, you gotta grind those levels! 2. COMMON OVER COMPLEX Do your research online, and find some simple lists of the most common words or phrases! Greetings are of course a priority, but memorizing the most common words will allow you to use context clues while listening to complete the puzzle of your understanding. The only exception I would make for complex vocabulary or grammar, would be if you are studying intensively for a specific line of work or event. Simple is best.
3. DICTIONARY APPS How great is it that we can have a whole library, an endless supply of study tools, and various way of communication in our pocket! Use these things to your advantage! Find yourself the best dictionary between your language and the language you want to learn. Check carefully when deciding apps by reading the reviews and trying free dictionaries before opening your wallet. In my experience, the free dictionaries are handy, but the $5~$10 apps tend to include flash card decks, memo abilities, and more to aid in your language studies! 4. LEARN “HOW DO YOU SAY ~?” When speaking a different language to a native speaker, you have the opportunity to confirm the world of that language. What nuance does this word/phrase have? In this situation, what would you normally say? Do men and women use this phrase? But the most valuable of these would have to be “How I say __(this)__?” Pointing at the object in question, or using your native language with someone who understands, brings you closer to an answer. This experience in itself is a vital method of language acquisition.
5. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK Fire away! Don’t hold those questions back! People may find it strange that you’re asking, but in the end you will acquire more knowledge bringing you closer to your goal! This goes for language learning or any other study for that matter. Muster up your courage, and ask away. If you are having difficulty communicating your question, fumble your way to the finish line! Now you have now learned that you need to study more about how to ask as well! “The only stupid question is the question that is never asked.” ~Ramon Bautista, Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo? 6. THINK IN THAT LANGUAGE This is where it gets fun! Think in that language, dream in that language, and speak to yourself (quietly is recommended) in that language! One of the best ways to get your mind to adjust to a new language and fire out vocabulary and phrases when speaking is by thinking in that language as much as possible. Don’t misunderstand, your brain will soon become a civil war among 2 languages, but you’ll gain the ability to compute emotion or certain situations faster if you have your brain backing you up! Mixing the language with friends is also a lot of fun too. I seem to be very proficient in Japanglish.
7. MAKE MENTAL IMAGES We do this unconsciously every second of every day. Car! See? It’s cool how our brains work! When studying languages, you have to connect mental images to the vocabulary you want to learn. They don’t stick the first time, but the more effort you put into this, the faster you will be able to think and speak in another language. My students have improved by leaps and bounds using this technique! 8. REVIEW Most people cringe in fear of this word. Too many of us think that once we cram something into my noggin, it’s saved for good! Have you ever entered a room, looked around, and had no idea why you were there? Don’t lie. You know you’ve done it! Review is the only way to fully “memorize” the things we want to learn. Review doesn’t mean re-writing everything over and over. There are many different types of reviewing, and trying different styles can be beneficial! I highly recommend a learning method resembling “muscle confusion.” This is usually used when talking about exercise and weight lifting, however, I believe the same concept works towards studying. Everyone has certain study methods that work best with them. Reading, writing, listening, speaking, etc. But I recommend changing up your normal study habits in order to make your brain work in different ways to absorb information. Changing your methods too much could lead to actual confusion, but adding variety to your study can help you learn more about yourself, and enjoy your language learning! 9. ACCEPT MAKING MISTAKES Nobody is perfect. Making mistakes is a great way for us to learn as it leaves an impression on us. In language, making a mistake can lead to miscommunication or hilarious outcomes, but one thing that we truly gain is the ability to prevent yourself from making the same mistake twice. Make mistakes, have a laugh, learn from them, and keep pushing forward!
10. ONE-ON-ONE LESSONS ARE WORTHWHILE! One-on-One lessons help students improve more detailed areas of studying language. Lessons can be customized to meet your specific needs, and make sure you’re learning what you want to learn. You can confirm those questions you normally wouldn’t ask, and make sure that your pronunciation, intonation, and understanding is on point! Also, you get the ability to make an international connection with someone willing to help you along your journey to become fluent! 11. MAKE IT FUN! MAKE IT YOUR HOBBY! Remember sitting in class, glancing at the clock ever few seconds, just to realize that you still had 2 more hours of school left? Not many people grow up enthusiastic about studying. However, as we grow older, our minds lean towards wanting to know more and more each day, wanting to improve certain aspects of our lives, and wanting to experience as much as possible. For example, studying out of a textbook would really make me want to fall asleep sometimes, so while I took breaks from that, I read manga (Japanese comic books) in Japanese. Find the connections between your hobbies that you have now and the language you want to learn! One of the easiest, and most common, is studying TV shows or movies! Watch it in your native language, then in the language you want to learn with subtitles in your language, then subtitles in the language you want to learn, and then no subtitles to reinforce what you learned. Making notes also helps in this exercise. Making daily routines can become tedious, but creating a mindset that studying language is your hobby, is a great way to stay motivated! 12. IMPROVE EVERY DAY You have to find what is motivating you to put time and effort into your passion. We can’t expect big changes everyday, but the small victories are what will lead to the success you are looking for! Make crazy goals, and pursue them every day! Bruce Lee also said that not all goals are meant to be achieved, but something to aim at. Gain experiences and knowledge , even if it’s only a little, each day. The more we stay conscious of this, the more we strive to improve ourselves each day! I wish you all the best in your studies, and may our paths cross someday.