TIPS ON BEING A GOOD LANGUAGE LEARNER

 

Here’s a few timeless tips from the 2004 Middlebury Language Schools Handbook:

BE OBSERVANT: Keep your eyes and ears open. Much of what you need is going on around you rather than in your teaching materials.

BE (OR TRY TO BECOME) EXTROVERTED AND PARTICIPATE: Jump in, ask when you don’t know, make mistakes. Experiment, learn to develop guessing strategies and be willing to make hypotheses. 

BE PREPARED FOR FRUSTRATION: Interacting with others in another language can be a humbling experience. Increasing one’s proficiency in a second language and culture takes both time and a concentrated effort. Learn to be self-conscious in a productive way. Get some exercise and stay as rested as you can.

BE YOUR OWN TEACHER: Develop your own strategies, figure out what works for you – taking notes outside of class, mnemonic tricks, talking to yourself, etc.

USE MEMORIZATION:  Look for routines, fixed or formulaic chunks of language that you can use over and over, bits of songs or movies etc.

AIM FOR DISCOURSE NOT WORDS: Think beyond the sentence, in terms of context, relationships, and overall meaning. A perfectionist’s approach to detail will almost certainly prove counterproductive. Especially in the beginning, attention to meaning should come before attention to form.

GO WITH THE FLOW: Do not rely on rules or explanations to the exclusion of keeping things moving. Develop your ability to paraphrase and use circumlocutions when you do not know a word, rather than give up or lapse into silence.

 

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