3 easy tips to help you progress quickly
Learning a new language online is getting increasingly popular today. It's easier, it saves time, and allows for a bigger variety of choices. But to make the most of your classes, and to progress quickly, you need to use the language in out-of-class contexts. It's the same as going to the gym 2 or 3 times a week—it's great for your progress, but if you combine this with regular morning exercise, and add the right diet as part of your everyday life, you'll actually double the results.
The simplest tip here would be: "Just surround yourself with people who can speak the language".
- Involve Native Speakers: This is certainly easier with international languages like English or Spanish. But you can still find ways with less common languages as well: one way is to volunteer as a tourist guide in your country. Social networks can also be handy if you want to find foreign friends from practically any country.
- Involve Language learners:
Talking to people who are also studying the language and are more or less of the same level can be a great way to go. One great option here is the Verbling free Practice Groups. Another thing you could do is play the "30 minutes without L1" game with your friends who are also trying to improve their speaking skills. The rules are simple: when hanging out in a pub or a cafe, just make a resolution to speak your target language only for a set period of time, and avoid any single word in your L1 (mother tongue). You have to pay a $1 fine any time you fail to do so.
Writing is not just about compositions and essays. You can improve your writing skills by following simple, routine tasks. The key word here is "routine". These simple activities need to become part of your everyday habits.
- Keep Diaries:
First, decide on the content of the diary sections so that they suit your personality: you could go with "My Day", "What I'm thankful for today", "What I'd like to achieve today", "My ideas, observations and quotes", etc. Try to have 2 or 3 sections to start with. Decide on the regularity and the exact time for you to write in each section. E.g. You could write in the "My Day" section right before going to bed while you could write in the "What I'd like to achieve today" section early in the morning. Similarly, you might choose to fill in the "My ideas, observations and quotes" section every Sunday afternoon. Set a word and time limit. I'd recommend around 50 words within 10 minutes for each section. You could then share your work with a friend or your teacher for a further discussion on the topics as well as a language review.
- Make Use of Chats & Forums:
Your language thinking develops faster if you use it in real-life situations talking about simple things that matter to you. In this respect, social networks are irreplaceable. And again you could ask a friend to join you in a resolution to chat in the target language for say 10 minutes, 3 times a week.
Like with your writing skills, here too, you'd want to make sure you follow a certain routine.
- The Fridge Method!
Find an item or two in your house which is the center of your attention every now and then: this could be the fridge door, your mirror, your PC monitor, etc. Stick word lists containing vocabulary items that are comparatively new and a bit complicated to memorize. This is a way for you to remember to test yourself every day. It's important to update the list once you feel you've memorized the vocabulary items and are able to make up sentences and situations using those.
- Fun Stories:
It's important to once in a while recycle your vocabulary. Often students complain that they work on new vocabulary items, however, fail to use them after some time passes. So do not throw away the expired word lists from your fridge or your mirror. Collect those and when you have around 40 words, make up a story trying to use at least 30 out of those. Do not try to have a very logical storyline. Often it's more fun to have absurd stories with fun characters. Try to write down your stories within limited time periods: 10 minutes would be a good target. The time pressure and the random word lists will probably lead to pretty funny outcomes.
Finally, remember: the clearer your timing is, the more routine-like your activities are, and, most importantly, the more fun you have with those, the more effective your learning will be.
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