Updated: Nov 1
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 new things. Knowing five different languages then, has allowed me to blend into any environment or place I have been to.
Learning English and foreign languages
Was it easy for me to learn foreign languages?
After wasting a lot of time on useless training and trying different methods, I selected a specific technique, which is what I will share in this article. There are no magic pills which will make you learn English or speak in a foreign language. However, by applying this method, I can guarantee that the process will be faster and more efficient.
Motivation – you will need it
It is crucial to know the reason why you are learning a target language. Perhaps, you want to move to other countries for work, or to study, or perhaps you have a foreign partner. In these cases, language proficiency is therefore an added plus. Students who understand why they need a target language are more efficient because more motivated to put in the work.
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 start seeing improvements and you will be very likely to understand the main idea of the videos you are watching.
Choose what you watch (input)
Input, in the beginning, is essential. Actually, it helps us sound natural like a native. By watching Youtube videos you will hear more conversations like the ones happening in real life. Especially in vlogs, where people talk about their daily lives, you can learn about some common phrases that only native speakers use. My tip is: try to understand what these people are saying and read subtitles instead of watching passively.
Apply this rule every day for at least an hour to make it a habit. If you prefer, instead of watching Youtube, you could also check Netflix or other TV series and movies. The important thing about this method is to enjoy the process and only watch what you are interested in, so it doesn’t feel like studying.
In fact, whatever it is that you are watching, you will watch it with a better mindset - one that is interested and motivated to learn - and this will improve your language skills quickly.
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. By actively trying to recall some of the words and sentences you heard, you will become fluent and sound more natural in your target language.
Of course, do not use a translator. It's convenient to open a dictionary immediately, but you need to give yourself some time to think about the words and come up with them on your own. 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 a book or hear someone speak. Now think about the vocabulary you use in a regular conversation. The problem is that it is often very different and 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.
How to activate your passive words
Make a list of the words you know well but never use. 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 also pronounce the sentence out loud a few times. Afterwards, come up with your own sentence where this word is included. This process will make the word become active. Make sure not to overwhelm yourself though. 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 constructed. By getting more familiar with the grammar and sentence constructions, your writing skills will definitely improve.
Keep a diary in the target language
You might say “it is easier said than done” and in a way, it’s true… but only at the beginning. This is because with practice, you will form a habit. You could start by writing five sentences every evening about what happened during the day, and then increase the number of sentences in the target language over time.
Learning languages has never been easy. But if you devote a little time every day to following my advice, results won’t take long to appear. The thing to remember here is "every day". Consistency is key to learning success.