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What To Avoid When Learning A New Language

Aug 18, 2007
Being a complex learning process, language learning can be hindered by dozens of factors, without you even knowing it. Whenever you hear someone saying that learning a particular language was "hard", "slow", "painful" or any other similar word, he or she was hindered by the factors that we'll be trying to avoid. Read on and if you think my tips make sense, try them and I promise you'll see language learning from a completely new angle.

1. Learning the Hard Way

Ok learning a language is hard, as in it's not something that can be done overnight and it's something that you need to invest a little patience and time in. But hard should not be mistaken with boring, annoying or time wasting. Adding a little fun and humor to your learning process can make all the hard work seem a lot easier.

Vocabulary games, online language lessons and quizzes, flashcards or natural learning through TV shows or audio tapes are all methods that fall under the "fun" category. If you are stubborn enough to follow the boring, traditional course book methods, be my guest, but it will take you a lot more time and sweat to become fluent.

2. Mass Vocabulary Intake

A lot of language courses focus on the mass vocabulary intake method. Personally, I think it's something that should really be avoided if you want to learn efficiently. This method includes writing hundreds of new words on a sheet of paper, with their respective meaning in a parallel column. Basically what you're asked to do is to mass memorize words until your head explodes. No thanks.

For one thing, learning 100 words in a short period of time is not efficient because you'll forget half of those words and their meanings by the time you go through the list once. When improving your vocabulary, taking smaller pills of words that you can swallow is the way to go.

Again, the way to work around this problem is by using fun activities that teach you new words in context instead of teaching them from a long list. Watching TV, listening to music in the language you're learning or playing word games and educational games are all good ways to improve vocabulary "on-the-run", while learning them in context. This is a double bonus when compared to the mass list method.

First of all, no one in a real conversation will ever ask you something that can be answered with a single word taken from a list. If you know the word's context, you can use it accordingly however. Secondly, by learning words through a fun method, your brain will memorize them quicker and more strongly since it will do so naturally, not in a forced manner.

3. Learning the Language's Grammar Like You're a Robot

At some point in your language learning process, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the grammar rules of that language. Now, you will probably be told that it's a good thing to learn these rules, the tenses, the cases or the word endings by hard, just like a robot. I personally disagree that it's an efficient way to learn a language's grammar (and I'm not the only one who thinks this way).

First of all, grammar, like vocabulary or any other part of a language, is best learnt naturally and organically, from the context. Of course you'll screw up the cases and tenses on your first tries, who cares. The main thing is that you'll soon be able to spot grammar mistakes by ear and you'll get that "it sounds wrong" feeling when you're not using things properly. Once you get a good grip of the language's grammar through this organic method, there will probably still be a few rules that you'll need correction with. For these rules, it's indeed best to learn them by hard.

Obviously, there are several other methods of increasing your language learning efficiency and speed, but I found that the above mentioned three are crucial in this sense. Try to stick to them and you'll soon find out that learning a new language doesn't have to be a hard, slow or painful process.
About the Author
Increase your foreign language vocabulary at online language games at http://www.InternetPolyglot.com. The site contains thousands of lessons in different languages from English, Spanish, French, Russian to Hindi, Turkish, Ukrainian and many others.
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