How to Study a Language

Henry James By Henry James, 3rd Jul 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Education

How can you learn a language if you failed at it in school? Don’t treat it as a chore, treat it as a challenge you can do

How to Do it

I failed at languages in School. I sucked a them. It was a chore to walk into a French lesson. The thought of German just made me wretch. If I had to write another verb table I’d go postal.

But now i’ve gained a love for languages. As soon as you leave school, learning stuff seems interesting.

Now i’ve been training myself in Japanese, Norwegian and French. I can’t think of anything better than learning these languages. But how do I find it interesting after years of hating it?

1. Never write a verb table.

They are boring boring boring. If i have to Je vais, I will je vais, I will not write it in a table….. Learn the phrases you want to know, be it I’m going, or you’re going. Just learn the phrases you think you will use, not a long list of verb formations that make you hate the very language you liked the sound of.

2. Try being illiterate?

Sometimes it’s easier to learn a language as a spoken form than a written form. If you are dealing with Kanji and Hangul, it’s best to pretend you understand it and move onto the words. I’ve been practically illiterate in Japanese, but I can converse and understand TV in Japanese. I’m gonna start learning the kanji soon. But because I can say the words, it will be so much easier than learning all of it at once. It’s a good way to start.

3. Watch TV.

Watch TV, watch films, watch anything in the language. Listen to radio and music, every free moment you have. I know mother told you that watching TV wouldn’t help your studies, but she lied. When it comes to language, total immersion in the topic by audio visual media is the best. I have streamed news in foreign languages to learn how it sounds. I try and immitate the sounds and eventually I work out what the words can mean.

4. Speak

Speak to yourself, speak to anyone. If you have a native speaker, speak to them. Keep an active use of the language you want to learn. It’s all about creating new neural pathways, making connections with the sounds and phrases you know. Any chance you have, even if it’s a chance encounter in a shop or a bus, try and talk.

5. Keep trying

You may think you’re going nowhere. You haven’t understood a word that’s been said for the last few weeks. But, then, one day you will remember a phrase, a word, even a sound and you will grin ear to ear. Only by failing do we find out we’ve learnt something.

Remember. It isn’t school, you’re not bound to do anything. But good luck!


Get Better At, Illiterate, Japanese, Kanji, Languages, Learning, Radio, Self, Speaking, Study, Training, Trying, Verb Tables

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author avatar Henry James
Everything and Nothing. Writing whatever catches my fancy.

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