Thursday, November 1, 2012

How Do I Study - Tips for Rapid Language Learning II

Continuing with tips for language learning:

9. Use verb conjugation on

Ah, this verb is irregular, how the hell was the third person in plural? Verbix or some other inflexer online helpes a lot in these situations.

10. Learn words using image associations

You are sitting outside, learning new vocab. You just read a new word, that sounds completely unfamiliar to anything you have seen before. You read it 3 times together with the translation, but you know that after 5 minutes, you will not recall a damn.

The safest way to remember a word is to learn it in a context. With either visual, acoustic or strong emotional association, preferably all of them. When is it more likely that you remember a word? When you see it in a dictionary, or when your friend tells you that new word in a sentence, when lying next to you on a beach? After what he explains the word to you, except for the meaning of the word you will also remember the beach, the sun, the whole situation and the story in which the word was used. Then, when you recall the situation, you also recall the word and vice versa.

Unfortunately, if we depended on naturally occurring situations like these, learning would be terribly slow. So why not create associations on our own? I like using the beginning of the sound of the word and connecting it with some funny scene that I make up in my mind. An example: In Romanian, the verb "to land" is "a ateriza". It does not remind me of any other similar word in other languages. But "a ateriza" sounds a bit like "Asterix". So I imagine myself standing on a pretty, grassy meadow in Galia around the year 0. It's warm, the sky is blue and soft wind is hitting my face and whips the grass. I look up and I see Asterix, slowly descending, the wings on his helmet rotating like a rotor of a helicopter. He is slowly landing.

It takes a bit more time to make such a scene up, but if it is good, it is granted that you will never forget the word. The more detailed and weirder the scene is, the bigger the chances that it will get stuck in your mind. Add temperature, smells, sounds to the scenes. It helps when the scene is funny, disturbing, gross, even sexually related. Do not limit your fantasy, it has a higher purpose!

In time you will get better at creating these images in your mind and you will need less time to make them. It might have an unwanted consequence that people will see you laughing on your own over your fantasies in the middle of the street, but isn't it worth it? :)

11. Learn songs by heart and sing them

Try to learn a few songs of your favorite genre, sung in the target language. Be alone, read the text and sing the song along with the singer. Song lyrics are one of the greatest context-full source of vocab. I read that hip-hop is especially good for this. Hip-hop did not work for me (it is just not my cup of tea), but it might help you.

12. Think in the target language

This is a common advice, but hard to fulfill if you do not know what it means. I will make it more specific: When you walk outside, talk to yourself about things you see and about things you have done or you are going to do. For example: "My name is Peter and I am going to work. I see pretty green trees..." (nice, let's try to use a more complex vocab) "... I wonder what kind of trees they are... Anyway, I like my work. My boss is nice and I also like my colleagues. Look, a dog!". And so on. Embrace your inner schizophrenia and talk to yourself!

13. Look like an idiot

Let's say you walk somewhere with friends and you say something wrong that everybody laughs at. You feel a bit embarrassed but after one of them corrects you, because of this strong emotion behind it, you will never forget the correct form of the word. Embarrassment is a great tool that helps you learn faster, if you are not afraid to be exposed to it from time to time.

14. Make mistakes

This piece of advice is something that Benny from Fluent in 3 Months emphasizes all the time. Mistakes help you learn. Even if you are not sure if your sentence is correct, say it. What can happen? Oh yeah, you can be corrected. An unbearable shame, isn't it?

If you are learning a language and do not make hundreds of mistakes every day, it can mean two things. Either you already speak like a native or you are working below your potential. In the case of the latter, do something more difficult. Change magazines for books, try to talk about some more complicated topics. DoMake mistakes!

These things helped me when learning a foreign language, but I realize that people are different, so not all of the tips have to work on everybody. So pick those that you like and try them out. Have fun, play with them,  modify them, find your own way. And when you discover something new that helps you learn a language faster, let me know, I will be happy to hear about it.

No comments:

Post a Comment