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Monday, 5 January 2009

Foreign Language Learning - 5 Essential Steps to Start Learning a Foreign Language

5 Essential Tips to Start Learning a Foreign Language

Here we will begin discussing the how to become a better and more independent language learner. The ideas and methods that we will discuss are not specific to a particular language but will be discussed in other articles. Here are 5 language learning tips to help get you started.

1. BE REALIST YET OPTIMISTIC - Anyone can learn a foreign language, but not everyone learns as quickly as the next. Set goals for yourself, and evaluate how you learn best so that you can have a realistic plan of attack to start learning your language of interest.

2. KEEP IT SIMPLE - Just like a child learning English for the first time you don't start by learning how to say complicated medical terms. Get a good dictionary that has explanations for common words and their idiomatic uses. There are several great reference dictionaries out there. I recommend Harper Collins Dictionaries or Larousse. There is a great book that approaches learning vocabulary by subjects which is a great learning method. The book is Master "insert language" Vocabulary a Thematic Approach.

Start by learning basic vocabulary and common phrases. Then you can practice making your own sentences. Think about things that you say everyday in English but probably don't think about and make list. Then start learning these essential conversational pieces.

Then you can practice making your own sentences. Think about things that you say everyday in English but probably don't think about and make list. Then start learning these essential conversational pieces.

3. BE A COPY CAT - Then you can practice making your own sentences. Think about things that you say everyday in English but probably don't think about and make list. Then start learning these essential conversational pieces.

You could buy some language learning software or CDs but I recommend searching for popular movies or books on tape that are in your language of interest. Play a short portion and try and understand as much as possible and then play it over and over again. As you do this mimic what each person says. Focus on pronunciation and accent. This will help you train your ear and help you get used to different vocal patterns and mouth movements that make speaking a different language difficult and intimidating. This will allow you to learn from natives and prepare for you to do the real thing.

4. LOOK FOR PATTERNS - When you start to learn more complex grammatical concepts you want to try and simplify every idea. You don't need to know the fine details or to be able to make a valid argument regarding the value of prepositions.

Conjugations - Especially in Latin languages there are patterns for every conjugation. Learn and memorize patterns of 5 verbs and then apply all of the same patterns to all of the other verbs that you learn. Some people will look at conjugations and feel overwhelmed and maybe even give up, but conjugations are simple if you take the time to learn and memorize the patterns that can be applied to all verbs.

Note: This principle is not perfect because there are exceptions and irregular verbs that do not follow the regular patterns, but looking for patterns is a very efficient tool.

Then you can practice making your own sentences. Think about things that you say everyday in English but probably don't think about and make list. Then start learning these essential conversational pieces.

Sounds - When you start focusing on Pronunciation again you want to look for patterns. Break each word into syllables and annunciate each one. Look for groups of letters that make specific sounds when grouped and then you will be able to recognize them in new words, large complex words. This will allow you to break the words down to smaller parts that are not as difficult to sound out. Once you do this start saying the word slowly focusing on each syllable. As you become comfortable begin saying the word at a normal speed. Don't fall into the pitfall of trying to say words at the speed a native would speak. This will only hurt you in the long run. Others will understand that you are learning and will appreciate the fact that you are speaking correctly and clearly. Remember the tortoise wins the race.

5. READ OUT LOUD - This is an essential step in learning to speak any language. This will allow you to use all of the previous mentioned techniques. I recommend starting with easy books like comics or books for 8 - 12 yr olds. These are great because they are not written to be difficult literary masterpieces and they are very conversational. Which is meets our goal of learning to speak the language in a natural setting.

First, keep a dictionary close by because you will most likely need to look up words. By reading out loud you will learn new vocabulary for specific situations and see how it is used in real life.
Secondly this is a great opportunity to speak the language. Practice reading the words slowly and clearly breaking them up into syllables if necessary. By reading out loud you will be able to get used to making the new sounds, using muscles in new ways that is associated with a new language without the pressure of having others around you.

Last, you will start to learn new words, recognize words you already know which will help you remember them, and you will learn new sayings and recognize patterns in the language.


Article submitted by: http://www.letutor.com/services/education.html

Aaron Kuroiwa is the Director of Le Tutor Language Services a Language Education provider. Aaron has been learning and teaching languages for 5 years and actively contributes to the language community. http://www.letutor.com



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