What Are the Most Effective Language Learning Strategies?
Whether you’re trying to learn a language for fun, for work, or for an upcoming move, it can be a challenging process if you don’t follow the right strategies. We all learn different. The difficulty in learning often comes when we pick strategies that don’t work for us. If you want to make the most out learning a second language, then combining these tips with an effective language program will guide you towards fluency.
Hire a Personal Teacher
This one can be expensive, depending upon your location and the method you choose. Primarily, you’re employing someone as a personal language coach. If you choose this method, you’ll want someone who can listen to you speak and support your language learning habits. You also need someone who will make you feel comfortable in your attempts to learn the language.
The goal is to find someone who won’t so much “correct you” as repeat the language back to you in the proper way. Feedback and usage are the two things you’re looking for when you choose to hire a teacher. Using someone who’s fluent in the target language and who can work with you regularly in your target language will help you succeed.
The downside of this type of tutor is that unless you have a “language buddy,” it can be expensive, or worse, they may not be a good teacher at all. Still, if you want to immerse yourself, but you’re against textbooks and flashcards, then this is an excellent way to go.
The Grammar-Translation Method
Nearly everyone has some experience with this type of language learning strategy. It has been around for a while and tends to appear more in academic settings. The strategy behind it centers on the use of grammar and sentences to communicate fluency. If you can decode a sentence and put words together to speak your own, then you can gain fluency.
There’s not a lot of focus on pronunciation or speaking, but that doesn’t make it ineffective. You can still learn a language this way. The problem is that pronunciation and speaking are also skills that you must develop. You’ll see that you lack skills in speech when you attempt to talk to a native speaker. The only way to get better at conversing in a different language is to have conversations.
What learners can do well with this type of learning strategies is read and write in their target language. This makes it an excellent approach if you’re learning a second language for an academic purpose.
If you’re a believer in the theory that 10,000 hours will make you an expert in any field, then the 10,000 sentences approach will best suit you. The focus here is “comprehensible input.” With comprehensive input, you’re exposing yourself to enough challenge in your target language so that you could learn, but not too much to where you don’t understand. By choosing sentences that you can understand somewhat or approach in some way, you’ll be able to build off of what you already know to expand your fluency.
There are many ways to approach this learning strategy. One popular method is through placing reoccurring or interesting sentences either on flashcards or into a flashcard app. You’ll have the translated version on one side and your target language on the other. What constitutes learning a sentence? Being able to read it, write it out, and speak it without any ambiguities or mistakes. You learn through this method by continuing to do this until you’ve mastered each of the 10,000 sentences.
One downside to this method is that you can waste time looking for sentences. However, you can still use it if it works for you. The key is exposure yourself to language in a way that engages you. Pick strategies that you enjoy.
The Listening-Reading Method
Listening-Reading (LR) method involves reading bilingual texts. LR is essentially immersion through a familiar source. If you’re wondering how to study Spanish with this method, for instance, then you’ll need to pick an interesting story with a side by side translation. Then you’ll follow these steps to develop your language skills:
- Read the text in your native language: Doing this will familiarize yourself with the text and help make understanding the second language easier.
- Read and listen to the text in the target language: You’ll go through the story a second time but only in the target language. The audio will help match the words with the proper pronunciation.
- Read the text in your native language while listening to it in the foreign language: This helps reinforce your brain’s ability to connect the original language back to what you’re hearing, making you better able to decode the target language as you’re listening.
The critical point to remember with this strategy is to engage with the text. If you don’t, you’re merely listening along. You need to work with the words to familiarize yourself with the language. You also want to make sure you’re familiar with what you’re reading. If it’s too complicated, you won’t be able to pick up the language, and you’ll waste your time.
If you’re wondering how to learn Spanish or another language for conversations, then shadowing would be your go-to method. With shadowing, you’ll be listening to native speakers discuss topics in their language, while following along. You’ll either be prompted to speak after them or ask/answer questions. And because you’re listening to native speakers talk, you’ll pick up on pronunciation and rhythm while working around your accent.
With these programs, you’ll listen to a speaker, hear, and repeat. To optimize your ability to learn the target language, you’ll need to have a transcript of the dialogue. This will help develop your understanding and move the shadowing experience away from a strictly practice-type learning experience. The result is that you’ll build up fluency with everyday dialogues in your target language.
The one downside is that you need the transcript. While it’s still useful without one, you won’t get the full benefit of being able to see the words you’re pronouncing.
Boost Your Language Skills, Fast
Keep in mind that there’s no one “right way” to learn a second language. You need to be willing to learn, interested in learning and have the time available to learn a second language. Remaining positive through the beginning is essential to ensure you stick with it over time. And the longer you stick with it, the higher the odds are that you’ll grow fluent.
Remember that there are a lot of different ways to learn a language too. These five are by no means all of them. For the best results, mix and match, or try combining them with a great learning program. Language learning with Optilingo is a great way to rapidly achieve success and works great with these other strategies. In the end, the more strategies you combine, the better results you’ll see.