Quick Tips for Self-Taught Language Learners – Her Campus


The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

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Feeling stuck in learning a new language? Not knowing which steps to take in order to escalate the language ladder can be a stumbling block. As a current French student, I resonate with that feeling now and then, but worry not! Although learning a new language can be overwhelming, there’s some pretty useful tips out there that will have you speaking said language in no time. Here’s my favorite tried and true tips to help improve language fluency. 

  1. Create a learning sequence 

Sometime in the past, I wanted to learn French by myself but had no clue where to start. Is the feeling mutual for all modern language students? Luckily, I’ve noticed a peculiar pattern that some professors in my language courses tend to use. I call it VWP, which is short for “Vowels, Words, and Phrases”. Just like babies tend to babble as a means of communicating, practicing a language’s vowels and their pronunciation is the first step to mastering it. After polishing your babbling, dissecting new vocabulary words is the next step. Pronouncing complete words can be tricky, but dividing them into syllables (such as: universal = “yoo-nuh-vur-sl”) is an easier way to learn. Also, don’t forget to review numbers, pronouns, and verbs in different tenses (past, present and future tenses). Formulating coherent phrases is probably one of the most difficult parts of learning a new language — it requires good conjugation skills, a wide vocabulary and the use of proper verbs. You can begin to practice with small talk questions such as: 

-How’s the weather?

-What day is it?

-Where’s the supermarket?

-What’s your favorite season?

-What’s your friend’s name?

Also, finding a grammar workbook might help you gain a better understanding of how to structure your learning. 

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  1. Practice with someone 

As they say, practice makes perfect! Putting your knowledge into words will help you identify the skills that need some polishing. Pronunciation, for instance, is something that requires vocalization and articulation in order to perfect it, so speak out loud! Engaging in a conversation is key, as the spontaneity of the interaction will allow you to pinpoint how much you really understand. Targeting your weaknesses is one of the main things you should always look out for while improving any skill. 

  1. Songs! 

Some studies suggest that “Music helps us retain words and expressions much more effectively. The rhythm of the music, as well as the repetitive patterns within the song, (have the potential to) help us memorize words.” Through music, you’re able to catch up on accents that may not be evident upon reading. Speaking of reading, digesting the lyrics of the song — which means deep reading and searching for unknown definitions, is another perk of using music as a learning tool. Hence, adapting the brain to listen to songs in the language you’re trying to learn also benefits your speaking and understanding abilities. 

  1. Make it a habit

Is it really overwhelming to practice a new thing? Or maybe you just have a particularly tight schedule at the moment? If so, try to start studying bit by bit, 10 minutes each day. You don’t need an entire hour of your day to study. In fact, it’s better to keep it simple and avoid burnout while you can. It’s said that scheduling ahead your study sessions can help you engage in learning. Maintaining a consistent study routine is crucial for learning languages, as time tends to blur the details you have already reviewed.

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  1. Establish a goal 

For inspiration, gym-goers usually identify a stronger person whom they look forward to. The same way that they get motivated to improve their stamina or gain muscle mass, you should identify a figure that influences you into improving your targeted language. It could be a singer, an actor, or even someone you know. But don’t just get influenced ー it’s equally important to visualize achievable goals. Don’t expect to sound exactly like a native speaker, but do make sure to put in your all to become a great speaker. So, remember to establish goals that will promote and maintain your focus.

Are you inspired or what? Luckily, these tips, alongside a healthy dose of patience and consistency, are sure to contribute to your language-learning experience!

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