How to Improve Your Language Learning Skills
Learning a language is one of the handiest skills. To study or work abroad, your bilingual (or multilingual) skills become a representation of your personality and adaptivity. But one this is guaranteed – learning a new language is a hardcore skill. Once you start learning, you will be amazed how rapidly you absorb the new vocabulary, grammar, listening skills, and so on.
But to enjoy all of that, you need to be consistent.
When we learn another native language, first we listen, speak and then read and write. To achieve the basic understanding you need to sharpen your basic skills. Most people agree that to master a language one should live in the country where that language is spoken.
What could be more effective than learning Chinese in China?
But traveling isn’t affordable for many. So, you need to improvise with the available resources.
In this article, we will discuss the major skills required to improve language learning skills and some insights you need in the shape of tips and tricks.
4 Major language skills a learner should utilize
Speaking, listening reading, and writing – these are the four primary language skillset to understand a new language (in the same order).
- Language listening skills help the learner to mimic sound when he tries to speak something.
- Reading is organized to improve vocabulary and grammar.
- Speaking and writing are the two most productive or active skills.
- Listening and reading are receptive skills.
Keeping a closer look at these factors will help you devote quality time the way you need to develop the language learning skill.
Remember that every person learns at a different pace. Some are good listeners while some are active readers. That’s when a language proficiency test comes in handy. It helps you to discover your sharpest skill. According to the results, you can start learning or improve your language development.
Because the point of learning is to communicate. The following tips will help nurture your language skills.
Handful tips to improve learning skills
1. Pronunciation and accent
The two most exploited terms in language learning are mispronunciation and a “fake” accent. People feel uncomfortable learning a second language because of their fear of pronouncing a word incorrectly.
Also, the accent they speak is highly different from those of natives. The discomfort will go away when you work on the pronunciation.
At a beginner’s stage, this fear is pretty common. Even advanced learners have difficulty with complex words. Take your time to learn the word. Break it into pieces (or vowels) to understand how to roll your tongue.
Let’s say you need to learn Chinese then you need to focus on Chinese pinyin for a better accent. Even if you become an expert, the accent difference may be minimized but it will never fully eliminate.
2. Watching the content
Want to work on your pronunciation and accent? Watching content will help you learn faster. Consume quality content via movies, seasons, songs, or any informational video that comes with a good subtitle.
For instance, Dark is a German season known for its supercilious story outline. Even if you do not understand it, just login into your Netflix account and click on play. You do have the option to watch a dubbed version but where’s the fun in that? Watch the original version in German while the subtitle plays in English. It will help you to become familiar with the accent and pronunciation.
3. Language partner
The next big help is to practice what you have learned so far. It’s not easy to converse without a partner. So, find a language partner.
It can be a friend, a colleague, someone from your language support group, or maybe even a neighbor! Whoever that person is, they are native so they are fluent in the language you are learning to speak.
Another way is to find a language partner online. Talk to them on a video call over Skype or WhatsApp. You can easily connect with like-minded people who can help you learn and progress in your language skills.
For starters, start conversing with a simple greeting and then slowly but gradually move towards complex sentences.
4. Read with a bang
Kill two birds with one stone by reading out loud. Reading is a natural talent. But to read in another language is a tough call. Obviously, people choose silent reading. But this way you will miss out on the opportunity for practising the phrases.
So whenever you find yourself reading a sentence or a paragraph, read it out loud to see how much you have actually progressed. Words in your mind sound a lot different than when spoken out loud. It’s important to vocalize the target words you want to improve.
The more you practice the mouth movement, the more you feel comfortable learning the new language.
5. Active listening
Watching a video is an entirely different experience than listening to audio. The moving clip helps to comprehend what’s going on. But with the audio file, your listening skills are highly activated.
Listening to audiobooks is a great example of focusing on your listening skills. You can find audiobooks available in the various genre so there’s plenty of topics to choose from.
When you listen to audio that aligns with your interests and hobbies, it is easier to concentrate on it. You will pick the words quickly as compared to the traditional form of learning.
Active and passive learning both are crucial in learning a language. But what about multitasking?
Learning will become mindless if you are unable to implement it. To improve language skills, play audio in the background while you complete your daily chores. It’s not direct learning but does allow you to break the standard learning procedure.
Listening in the background is affirmatively helpful to memorize new terms. A podcast is a great example. For instance, you may be driving to your workplace while listening to a podcast about how to knit a sweater in French.
7. Parallel reading
Yes, it’s true, even reading has different types. To improve your reading skills in a foreign language, bilingual e-books are the mighty saviors.
Parallel reading is an exceptionally time taking process, hence the reason it is not highly recommended. But what if that’s your language learning groove?
Reading a parallel text allows you to see how one word interacts with the subject or object. It works for intensive and extensive reading purposes. So you can also make notes while doing parallel reading.
Extensive reading is purely for pleasure, say a novel is a good read. It helps to develop and nurture your language learning skills a lot.
8. Try comic books
Wait, what? But believe it or not, comic books are a great representation of localized graphics and yes super cheesy but great dialogues!
For a graphic novel collector, pictures often act as translation. Comics are an easy and quick read. They do not require a highly advanced level of language skills. It’s basic, that’s why beginners can easily pick up with the casual language.
Try skipping the picture and just going through the captions to understand what it means. Write down basic translation (according to your understanding) and then do a comparison. Sounds like hard work but only then you can gain success in language skill.
9. Write whenever you can
To improve your writing in a foreign language, you need to practice it too. Learning a character-based language like Korean, Chinese or Japanese is hard. Use of symbols is complex and therefore takes a lot of time to master the skill of manuscript.
Some languages are easier to read and write. For instance, if you are learning Italian you will find it familiarly relatable in English. Because most of the learning is happening online or through online apps, the sense of practicing writing is fading away quickly.
Take a pen and paper and jot down the conversation or an idea. The skill of writing is now shifted to the keyboard but it’s important to write a basic sentence. To improve your writing skills, start with daily exercises with short sentences or phrases. Gradually move towards longer sentences and so on.
10. Foreign language keyboard
Oh, so you got the latest Apple phone? Like every other smartphone, a foreign language keyboard is a tech-savvy option.
To write a foreign language on your keyboard, first, you do need to practice the script by hand (See the power of pen and paper!) typing a language on your phone is a different experience than moving your hand up and down trying to shape the letters or characters.
The use of a foreign language keyboard will help you with the online text for sure. But it still cannot compete with the manual writing practices.
There is no hard and fast rule to learning a language skill. Language is a skill. It’s not only about learning a new word. You need to accept the local customs, values, and history to understand what the language is all about.
Try the tips mentioned above. Let us know which one of these tips you found to be most effective in your language learning process.
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