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December 2016

5 (Simple) Tips for Jumpstarting Your Language Learning

Easy study tips to implement into your daily routine

Learning a new language doesn’t always mean sitting down for hours at a time with a textbook. Sometimes effective learning practices come with the simple things, using tools you likely already have, or implementing routines that cost you nothing.

1) Utilize a pop-up dictionary on your smartphone

Smartphones are incredible devices with useful features that many of us don’t utilize. One of the best simple language learning tools on smartphones is the pop-up dictionary. Simply highlight the word which you’d like to translate and look it up. The dictionary pops up over whatever text you’re reading, making translation quick with minimal interruption. What’s even more useful is that you can add foreign dictionaries, allowing you to look up text in other languages as well. This feature is built into iOS devices. Users of Android devices may need to download a third-party app.

2) Don’t forget about Google Translate’s other features

Did you know that you can translate text from images, your own speech, and handwriting in the Google Translate app? The powerful translation software isn’t limited to solely typed text. With Google Translate’s current version, users can take photos of signs with foreign text and translate those words. The handwriting tool is especially useful if you’re learning languages with complex characters like Mandarin or Arabic. Finally, the speech tool is helpful for translating phrases that you speak. You’ll get the translation spoken back to you by Google. Best of all, Google Translate is free and supports many languages.

3) Talk to yourself

Like shadow boxing for pugilists, talking to oneself is a great way to practice forming phrases and speaking when there’s no language partner around. In your everyday life, switch your thoughts to your target language. Speaking out loud is a great way to get your mouth used to the feeling of vocalizing in your target language. As you go throughout your day, you’ll likely be testing your brain on a number of subjects, from being in the kitchen to walking outside in public.

4) Start a journal

At the end of each day, record your activities and thoughts in a journal. Imagine you are writing to a friend and explain everything in detail. This is a good exercise for practicing sentence formation while exposing yourself to new vocabulary. Before writing each additional entry, review the previous day’s entry to see if you made any errors. It’s often easier to spot mistakes a day after you’ve written the text.

5) Find an Internet radio station

To practice your listening comprehension, it’s helpful to expose yourself to as much of your target language as possible, spoken by native speakers at native speeds. Internet radio stations are great options for achieving this because they are available around the world, usually free, and you can play them in the background throughout the day. If you’re listening over a long period of time, you’ll likely be exposed to a variety of things, from music to news to talk radio.

What simple tips would you recommend to aid language learning? Let us know on our Facebook Page, and be sure to “like” TELC English for more study tips!

Picture: (c) Fotolia, Antonioguillem

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