Are you learning a foreign language and want to become proficient and sound native-like after dedicating so much time and hard work to your studies? Language learning is not only about acquiring grammar knowledge and vocabulary, but also developing your productive and receptive skills and, crucially, practising them!
The most effective way to learn a new language proficiently is to sign up for a face-to-face or online course with a professional tutor; but what if you cannot attend your classes on a regular basis? Some people have very busy schedules and can only dedicate a few hours a week to studying, for example. If that’s true for you, don’t despair: you can still reach your goals of obtaining language fluency. Keep on reading to find out more about the top 3 strategies you can apply to become fluent in a foreign language in a short time!
Study using real-life materials
We have all experienced lessons planned entirely around a boring textbook, but this is not the only way to learn. On the contrary, experts recommend foreign language students to learn with real-life materials (including TV series, books, films, the news, interviews, TED talks, and more) for two main reasons:
- It’s more engaging. You’re not likely to remember a lot if you’re bored, while the contrary is true if you are interested in the resources you are using in class. This is why we subconsciously pick up new words and understand unfamiliar accents in foreign films faster than if a teachers asks us to revise a list. It also keeps lessons interesting, which keeps you motivated to learn.
- It’s real. By using the same resources that native speakers use to absorb information and entertainment, you learn the language that is actually used, as opposed to the overly formal or old-fashioned words and phrases sometimes taught in course books. Not only will you pick up regional specific expressions, but slang, too.
Practise, even if you are alone
Practising at least a few minutes every day will make all the difference if you want to become fluent in a foreign language. Of course, speaking to your partners and or teacher during the lessons is essential, but maybe you’re too busy to take classes every day. Even if you only study once a week and don’t have anyone else around who can speak the language, you can still talk to yourself! Grab a mirror (so you can observe your body language and the position of your tongue and lips, as well) and speak about anything you like, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Don’t worry about making mistakes: nobody is watching! Well, nobody but you. The main objective of this type of exercise is to analyse your body language and improve your range and pronunciation while taking note of “the gap” (that is, realising there are words or structures you need to express your ideas but which you haven’t learned yet). Later, you can inform your teacher of any holes in your knowledge, so they can prepare a class to target the areas that need the most attention.
Surround yourself with your target language
It is common knowledge that immersing yourself in a language and its culture is the fastest way to pick it up. But what if you can’t go abroad for a while or there is no-one in your community with whom you can practise regularly? This is where the internet can be of immense help!
- Set your social media to display in your target language. This is great because you’ll probably already know all the functions of the apps you use every day, so it will be easier for you to recognise and learn new vocabulary while doing the same things you usually do. For instance, if you’re learning Spanish, soon you’ll know that a “Like” on Facebook is “Me gusta”, “Story” is “Historia” and “Profile” is “Perfil”.
- Join/Follow language learning groups, like those on Facebook or Twitter, where people speak the language you want to learn. It’s also a great way to socialise and meet new people who you can then speak with online via messaging or voice-chat in the language you all want to master.
- Cook using a recipe in your target language. It’s even better if you prepare a meal that you’re already familiar with, so you can acquire some vocabulary and grammar (like imperatives) without making a mess in the kitchen. Over time, as you learn the basics, you can start to challenge yourself with new and exciting dishes of other cultures.
Learning a language might be challenging and time-consuming, but there’s a lot you can do to accelerate the process. Implementing these ideas will not only improve your fluency, but also your self-confidence and motivation. Furthermore, you’ll have a lot more fun!
Feeling motivated to learn a new language? Contact us today and we can prepare a tailor-made online or face-to-face course for one of the more than 100 languages we teach.
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