Blog January 16, 2017 by

St Giles

5 Tips for Language Learning

Last week, we posted about New Year’s Resolutions. We all know that it’s easy to start the year full of good intentions, only to find your motivation disappearing within a couple of weeks. Without some help, it’s easy to become less dedicated and let your goals slip out of reach. Lots of our students will have started 2017 with a resolution to work on their language skills – if you’re one of them, these tips are for you!

Photo by Juliette Leufke, via Unsplash

Learning a language is not something you can do overnight. It takes a long time and a lot of work, so it’s no surprise that people sometimes become discouraged. We’ve thought of 5 things you can do to give your studying a boost in 2017:

new notebook
Photo by Jan Kahanek, via Unsplash

1. Buy a new notebook
Everyone loves the feeling of opening a new notebook and seeing the clean blank paper – it’s a fresh start every time! But did you know that notebooks are also good for your memory? Studies have repeatedly shown that students who take notes by hand remember what they have learnt more accurately and for longer than those who use a laptop. It’s thought that this is because writing by hand uses more areas of the brain and so causes it to create stronger connections.

Photo by Alexis Brown, via Unsplash

2. Speak to people
We know that this can seem difficult, especially if you lack confidence, but there really is no better way to improve your speaking than simply by talking to people! If you’re staying with a host family, you’re at an advantage here, but there are lots of other things you could try too. Why not attend a language swap evening? You can practise your English and help someone else learn your language at the same time. If you’re not in an English speaking country, there are lots of websites that will help you find a conversation exchange partner to talk to on Skype – try The Mixxer or Conversation Exchange as a starting point.

Photo by James Pond, via Unsplash

3. Listen and read
We bet that every teacher you’ve ever had has told you to read and listen to things in your target language. They’re not lying! It’s a great way to practise outside the classroom, and can really help with expanding your vocabulary. It’s so easy to do this too – go to the cinema and see a film, listen to a podcast on your way to work or school, sign up to a newsletter about something that interests you, buy a graded reader or a bilingual edition of a book or simply change the language setting on your phone! We’ve got lots more useful resources on our website!

Photo by Bruno Nascimento, via Unsplash

4. Exercise
This might not be what you were expecting, but regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your brain! Numerous studies have looked at the effect that exercise has on people’s learning, and have found that improved cardiovascular fitness can really boost your memory. On top of that, regular exercise also helps to improve your attention span and your ability to focus. If you’re preparing for an exam, it’s worth remembering that exercise is great for stress too – it can lift your mood and help you to relax. What are you waiting for? Go for a run or a walk, hire a bike, find a gym class you like, or go for a swim. Whatever you do will be worth it!

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

5. Use your phone
We often see articles in the press complaining about smart phones, but for a language learner, they are incredibly helpful! Google Translate lets you look up words, phrases and sentences wherever you are while apps like Evernote are great for making notes in class, recording new words and storing ideas. Perhaps most importantly, there are lots and lots of apps that help you study on the go: Duolinguo, Babbel, Busuu, Memrise…the list goes on. Would you like to know more about some of these? Look out for a post on our favourite apps coming soon!