With the priorities of the curriculum constantly evolving, the teaching of foreign languages traditionally places great demands on students, not least the limited amount of time available to them to develop a familiarity with the spoken and written aspects of their chosen language. Both the content and the duration of courses feature spoken and written practice, but there is always room for improvement. There are several helpful habits that students can develop to assist them while learning foreign languages.
1. Watch Internet Programming
Many national broadcasters put news and current affairs content onto the web and this can be viewed online. This helps develop familiarity with the spoken word and the pace of delivery. It also allows students to repeat sections of dialogue that they may have missed first time around.
2. Find Native Speakers to Converse With
Social networking provides opportunities to meet up with native speakers of almost every language in the area. There is often a group that meets on a regular basis to chat in their own language.
3. Strike up a Conversation
One great way of developing self-confidence is to initiate conversation with native speakers in a spontaneous manner, even in the street or on a plane. They will almost certainly be delighted to share a few words with you and to thank you for your efforts.
4. Go to the Cinema
Foreign-language productions are more visible now than they were a few years ago. With European countries producing award-winning films there are an increasing number to choose from at the cinema. Check the cinema listings.
5. Books and Digital Media
Now that an entire book can be compressed and added to a Kindle or similar device, it is a great way of reading effectively. A whole library of classics can be added and can be read anywhere.
6. Always Carry a Dictionary
The reassurance of having a dictionary in your pocket just in case you need it will probably outweigh the number of times you actually pull it out. It is still a useful accessory that does not take up much room.
7. Learning the Alphabet
Modern language studies are not just limited to languages that use a Latin script and students may need to recognise Arabic calligraphy, Chinese pictograms, and the letters of the Russian alphabet. Newspapers are best as they allow students to copy the letters in the margin.
8. Learn to Cook
The best way to expand your food vocabulary – which can be vast for European languages – is to take up the culinary art and learn some recipes and the names of the ingredients.
9. Buy a Notebook
Jotting down words is useful, and if the notebook is in Central European style the pages will be divided into small squares, which helps develop calligraphy if writing in another alphabet.
10. Listen to Music
Pop music is a great way of learning languages colloquially, and can easily be added to your MP3’s music collection.
Written by Sam Luther, a copywriter and experienced blogger working with independent schools.