Headed back to school?
You may be one of the 10.6 million students in K-12 in the US learning a foreign language. Or maybe you live elsewhere and are preparing for your a-levels.
Whatever your reason for learning a new language as we head back into the new school year, here are some tips to help you get your language up to speed and have a successful year of learning!
The ways that foreign languages are taught in a lot of schools tend to focus on learning about the language – its grammar, how it works, and other rules. But to become a successful speaker of a foreign language, you also need to spend time focusing on using the language in practice. This means speaking and writing, but can also include listening.
Look for opportunities to practice everything you’re learning in conversations. Find language exchange partners, practice speaking, and learn lots of vocabulary so you feel confident speaking.
It’s easy to give a short response when asked a question. Especially in a foreign language. But to really build your language skills, dig deeper.
For example, if someone asks you how your weekend was, don’t just reply with “good”. Instead, you can say “good” and then give a little detail as to why it was good - what you did. And then turn it around by asking them how their weekend was in return.
When learning a new language, it’s easy to think that you should exclusively use materials designed for language learners. But there’s a wealth of resources created available for native speakers that are available to you, even as a learner of the language.
What is native content?
Children’s books, tv shows, radio, songs, YouTube videos, movies, and other media created for native speakers. These are all authentic resources that will give you a glimpse into the language and culture. You can find many of these types of resources online, so be sure to take advantage of your access to them.
Sometimes the learning you do in school or classes aims to get you towards different milestones than your own personal goals. If this is the case, supplement what you’re learning in school with materials and tasks that help you reach not only your school goals but also your personal goals.
For example, if your class is focused on teaching you about the language, and your goal is to use the language to study abroad, you can independently learn the skills you need to set yourself up for success with your personal learning goals.
One of the most important things you can do for your foreign language learning is get feedback. And not just on the things you’re struggling with, but with the things you’re doing well at, too. This is important because it’s easy to focus on areas that need improvement and not celebrate the areas where you’re doing well. Focusing on what could be better can be encouraging, so be sure to get feedback on the things you’re doing well, too.
Ready to start the new school year?
Whether you’re heading back into the classroom or continuing virtual learning, connecting with your classmates and staying ahead of the class with your vocabulary learning will give you a big headstart. This is Drops can help.
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