Keys to Successful Language Study Tips

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How do I remember new words?

Repetition is the key

Have you learned some new words, but do you keep forgetting them? There's only one method to remember them: repetition. Find someone who speaks the language and ask to do any future conversations in the new language. Try to use them as often as possible, find situations where you can use them because practice makes perfect.

What are the key factors that determine success in learning a foreign language?

Study Regularly, Study Often

All other things being equal, the one factor that determines success in learning a foreign language is regular exposure to the language. The average person learning a language by self-study will benefit the most from at least 30 minutes of study per day, at least five to six days a week. That said, studies also show that 30 minutes is about the maximum time most people can focus on learning tasks without taking a break. So if you study for longer periods, take a ten-minute break every 30 minutes to keep your learning edge.

How should I set my goals for learning a language?

Setting Realistic Goals

Nothing can discourage you faster when you're learning a foreign language than feeling like you're not reaching your goals. If you're studying on your own, it can be hard to stay motivated. Help prevent this by setting realistic goals. What is realistic? If you study every day with a good program, you can expect to be able to handle simple conversations, request, giving and taking directions, etc. in about two to three months. If you are learning a language that is very different from your native language-- for instance an English speaker learning Cantonese--expect it to take at least 50% longer. Also, try not to tie your goals to a time frame if you're new to studying foreign languages. Until you've tried it for awhile, you won't really know how long it takes you to internalize things. Focus instead on mastery of the material.

How can I build a support network to help my language learning?

Your Support Network

Learning is more effective when you have a larger community that values learning. University professors have the luxury of working alongside colleagues and students who share their enthusiasm for their subjects and encourage them in their work. You can enjoy similar benefits by building your own network to support your language studies. A friend might help you get in touch with a native speaker you can practice with or meet you for lunch at an ethnic restaurant. A local librarian or bookseller might let you know about a new book related to your language that was just published. Other friends might enjoy going to foreign films. By involving friends and associates in your learning, you will probably find resources you wouldn't have found before, and you're much more likely to succeed in your learning.

How can setting goals help me succeed in learning a language?

Setting Effective Goals for Language Learning

Most people hate goal setting. Actually, what they hate is setting a goal and then realizing sometime later that they failed to meet that goal. There are things you can do to increase your chances of fulfilling your language learning goals. Incidentally, they also work pretty well for goals regarding any other aspect of your life. What are these secrets? Two things: First, always write down your goals. Write what your goals are, what you need to accomplish them, and exactly how you are going to do it. The more specific and detailed your notes, the better. Even if you think you understand your goals, the act of writing this down will help solidify it in your mind and may help you spot flaws in your plan. Second, find and enlist the aid of friends and associates to help you stay motivated or help you in other ways.

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William Pirraglia