Author: Nagima Kubanychbekova
Connect with Nagima
Date of Publication: 15/10/2022
“As many languages you know, as many times you are a human being”
I speak five languages - Russian, Chinese, English, Czech, and Turkish. The knowledge of foreign languages has opened up many opportunities for me. I can freely move around other countries without feeling a lack of communication. Also, I can build a career abroad, watch foreign films, and constantly discover something new for myself. So, foreign languages allowed me to blend into any environment, switching from one language to another.
Was it easy for me to learn foreign languages?
I certainly had difficulties, especially at the beginning of my journey. I was studying the language without a specific goal, which was important. I wrote out the words in a column and memorized them. However, even though words remained in my memory, I could not use them in context, same with grammar.
After wasting a lot of time on useless training and trying different methods, I selected a specific technique, which I will share in this article. So, there are no magic pills, which will make you speak in a foreign language. However, I promise that by applying this method, the process will be faster and more efficient.
Motivation – you will need it
It is crucial to understand why you are learning a target language. Perhaps, you want to move to other countries to work, study or you have a foreign partner. Therefore, language proficiency is always an added plus. Students who understand why they need a target language are more efficient.
First, when you start studying, you need to define your goal. For instance, if you have a strong desire to watch and understand YouTube in English, you have decided on a goal and started taking action. Believe me, in a few months you will already understand the main idea of the video.
Choose what you watch (Input)
Input, in the beginning, is essential. Actually, that helps us sound natural like a native. By watching youtube videos you will most likely hear more daily conversations. Especially, in vlogs where people talk about their daily lives, you can catch so many phrases that native speakers use. Try to understand what they are saying and read subtitles instead of only watching.
Apply this rule every day for at least an hour to make it a habit. If you don’t prefer this type of creator you might also check Netflix or other TV series or movies. The important thing about this method is to enjoy the process and only watch what you are interested in. So, it isn’t studying.
In fact, you will watch youtube videos but with a better mindset, and it will improve your language enough.
Now it's time to do the output
After watching every video, movie, or podcast, try to explain it to yourself, and summarize them in your own words. That is a crucial step in becoming fluent and sounding natural in your target language. This is because you will actively try to recall some of the words and sentences.
Of course, do not use a translator. It's convenient to open a dictionary immediately, but you need to give yourself a bit of time to think about the words and come up with them. However, if you can’t find a word after a few minutes, you can look it up and create notes to add to your vocabulary list.
Improve your vocabulary
I realized that almost all students focus on learning all the fancy words as much as possible. In fact, I was doing the same. Certainly, we can use them in academic writing or for understanding books.. But we don’t have a real opportunity to use them in our speaking.
Think about the overall vocabulary you can understand if you read them in a book or hear when someone speaks. Now, think about the vocabulary you use in a regular conversation. The problem is that it is much more limited. So, instead of expanding your vocabulary with all these fancy words, start to focus on the words you already know, but never use. Make them active. Passive words won’t help us, especially with our fluency.
How to activate your passive words
Make a list of the words you know well, but never use them. Then once a day, go to that list and pull one of these words out. The best way to make these words more available and accessible is to develop the muscle memory of pronunciation. Pronounce one of these words out loud 20 times. Then find a sentence with this word and pronounce the sentence out loud a few times. Afterwards, invent your sentence with this word. Now it has become active. Don’t overwhelm yourself, a single word a day is enough.
How to improve writing skills
Read more appropriate content. In the reading process, you see how grammar “works” in practice. While reading, you immerse yourself in the target language and you see how sentences are made up. Also, you get familiar with grammatical constructions, and words.As a result, your writing skills will improve.
Keep a diary in the target language. Yes, it is not easy at first, but the more you practice, the easier it will become. Get in the habit every evening of writing a diary about everything that happened during the day. You can start with five sentences and increase every day.
Learning languages has never been easy. But if you devote a little time every day to following my advice, the result won’t keep you waiting long. The key word is "every day". Regularity is the key to success.