How Flashcards Helped Me Get Back To Language Learning

You guys might remember a recent post from Angel Armstead, our resident Japanese language and video game buff! Today, Angel is sharing a bit more about how she uses flashcards to get back into the action.

Something as simple as flashcards have helped me get back on my way into language learning. I still have a very busy schedule. I'm working on creating my own coffee business. I want to complete a novel and I've decided to create my own video game. That doesn't even add in the miscellaneous stuff I do such as piano practice or other emergencies that steal time from me.

I use these Kanji Flashcards every day.

I use these Kanji Flashcards every day.

So How Did It Help?

For the most obvious reasons is that they can be taken anywhere. I can take a break from writing and look at my few vocab words or Kanji characters. It's the convenience behind using flashcards anytime and anywhere that made it easy for me to continue to learn Kanji characters and new vocab. When I had stopped language learning altogether because of lack of time I could have used them then. It wasn't until I decided to stop procrastinating that I realized I could do some language learning in a simpler way.

The big thing about flashcards is that they really help me with is the Kanji characters. It's good for vocab too. But all through college I didn't feel like I could learn the Japanese writing system. With the flashcards I feel like I have really memorized certain characters. When I see them in other written works I still remember what the character stands for and other ways to use the same character.

Why Point Out Something That Most People Already Know?

A lot of people I know don't think something simple as flashcards can help much with anything. But in my experience, flashcards are such a great fall guy! Even when you're too busy to listen to a lesson or meet with a teacher, you still have a minute or two to spare for a few words that day. That's all it takes to keep going, after all. A lot of people don't realize how something so simple can help out so much.

Recommended places for Kanji Cards

If you're interested in grabbing your own Kanji card sets, here are my own recommendations: I went to two separate places for kanji cards. One was Amazon.com, but the cards I typically use the most are the ones I got from http://www.whiterabbitpress.com/. Their cards do make it obvious which meaning is Japanese and which is the original Chinese meaning. The Japanese meaning will be in hiragana and the Chinese in katakana. They also have kana flashcards. Typically learners of Japanese learn the kana first. It's even more important if you're going the flashcard route. The meanings on kanji flashcards will be in kana.

New Podcast: Episode 8 -- Lindsay and Kerstin Do Languages

In Episode 8, my guest is Lindsay Dow, a really enthusiastic and cool independent language teacher from the UK. Lindsay is well-known for her great Youtube videos about all aspects of language learning, and she was also a winner in the Sensational Fluent Giveaway.

“No one learns a language because they want their life to stay the same.”

The show doesn't follow the usual interview format, instead Lindsay came on as a co-host and talked about her favourite blogs and articles, as well as her own story of language learning. She also helped me select the Tip of the Week.

Some of the highlights:

  • How music and lyrics from Sheffield can teach you great English
  • Which Asian language was a total eye-opener for Lindsay
  • Why travelling is the greatest motivation for language learning
  • How to stop getting bored by the language you’re learning (hint: Celebrity crushes help!)
  • Our exclusive permission to you: Learn AS MANY LANGUAGES AS YOU LIKE

As always, you can check out the podcast on Stitcher, or head over to itunes.

Beautiful Gallery Images from my Multilingual Forest Surprise

Sometimes we don't have to look very far at all to discover a multilingual gem right on our doorstep. On Sunday, I took a trip to Beacon Fell, a beautiful forest and hill in the Forest of Bowland, for an autumn walk. I love it when the leaves turn yellow and orange and the last of the sun wants our attention.

The Forest is celebrating its 50th anniversary as an "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" this year (it really is beautiful), and they currently have a little art exhibition right in the forest to celebrate. I got a little lost looking for the first stone of Geraldine Pilgrim's "Beauty", but when I finally found it I was excited to see that I got a special treat. The word "Beauty" is etched into stepping stones in the forest floor in various languages, placed along a trail that leads you into the forest to a special area of contemplation.

Here is a glimpse of the exhibition. You can catch it until 9 November if you are visiting Northern England.

I would love to hear about special places that you have found in your own area.

Where can you find international signs, exhibitions or other multilingual beauty?

Thanks for reading this article on Fluent, the Language Learning Blog. If you are feeling stuck right now, why not subscribe to Fluent and check out our language book shop.

Bookmark This! The 73 Best Language Blogs To Help You Learn Any Language

You may remember that back in July, Fluent hosted a rather sensational giveaway featuring prizes from Italki, Rosetta Stone and more friends of the Fluent blog. The giveaway was amazing, with more than 500 of you entering to win a prize! What you might not remember is that during the entry form I also asked you about your favourite language learning blogs. These blogs have now been counted and used to create the first ever Fluent list of awesome blogs to learn languages.

the best language blogs

Altogether, we counted over 250 votes so check out this great list of blogs and let me know which one is your favourite in the comments. I had a lot of fun checking out all these blogs and hope you'll discover some amazing new ones. Do share and bookmark this article and make it a resource for when you need motivation, or a laugh, or just a new place to find inspiration online!

The categories included are any language, German, French, English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Irish, Russian, and Norwegian.

Blogs for Learning Any Language

1) Fluent in 3 Months

Benny Lewis remains the heavyweight in language learning blogs, with his established and award-winning platform right at the top at 58 votes. Congrats, Benny!

2) Fluent Language

Okay, this could have been totally biased but I'm proud anyway because 47 of you love the Fluent blog! My dedication to helping you learn any language with my articles and books is unwaivering. You can find all my articles with a quick search in the archive.

3) Italki

Surprise entry! The italki blog came in at number three, scooping up 30 votes. The site is huge and offers something for any learner, so go check it out.

4) the Polyglot Dream

Italian Luca Lampariello lives by the belief that you cannot be taught a language, you have to learn it. His blog bagged a respectable 10 votes.

5) r/languagelearning

Reddit! How can I describe it? The internet's busiest message board? An amazing online community? Whatever it is, once you join Reddit you'll be amazed at how much knowledge and discussion there is about any topic under the sun. The Language Learning subreddit is a place to give and find advice with a global community.

6) I Will Teach You a Language

You will? Bring it! Olly Richards is behind this fabulous promise and shares his own language learning journey as well as all he learns along the way.

7) Fluent Forever

Gabriel Wyner (an interviewee in Fluency Made Achievable) speaks five languages, sings arias and has a book published. Phew!

8) Speaking Fluently

This website is another big polyglot name's blog. Richard Simcott makes videos in all kinds of languages, co-organises the annual Polyglot Gathering and learns, and learns, and learns.

9) Mezzofanti Guild

The Mezzofanti Guild is a group blog full of motivation, interesting observations and posts from some truly smart people. This blog's been around a while and I recommend you check out their considerable archive!

10) Lindsay Does Languages

Look out for Episode 8 of the Creative Language Learning Podcast to get to know more about Lindsay, a total Youtube and blogging and online POWERHOUSE of the languages.

And here is the rest of the chart for learning and thinking about any language:

11) Rawlangs by Alex Rawlings

12) Words and Worlds of New York by Ellen Jovin

13) About.com for pretty much any language

14) Actual Fluency by Chris Broholm

15) Interpals, the international pen pal exchange

16) Languages Around the Globe

17) Memrise

18) The Linguist - The Blog of Steve Kaufmann

19) How To Languages

20) Language Surfer

21) Lingholic by Sam Gendreau

The Best German Learning Blogs

1) Your Daily German

This amazingly approachable and detailed grammar blog bagged a whole five votes from the Fluent German learning gang and I can completely see why. It's einfach super.

2) Deutsche Welle

Get news, courses, podcasts, anything from Germany's biggest international broadcaster. Not a blog, but just an AMAZING resource.

And with one vote each:

3) Learn Out Live!

4) Deutsch für Euch on Youtube

5) Get Germanized on Youtube

6) Mr Antrim -- You guessed it, on Youtube!

7) Aprender Alemão for Portuguese speakers

The Best French Learning Blogs

All of these came in at an equal amount of votes, so I'm going straight to the list:

1) Talk in French

2) Le Point du FLE - a great resource for teachers

3) Oui, c'est ça!

The Best English Learning Blogs

Equal votes for each.

1) Cork English Teacher on Facebook

2) English Baby, not just for babies

3) ESL Teaching tales, a really interesting teacher's perspective

4) Happy English Blog

5) Grammarly

The Best Chinese Learning Blogs

Equal votes for each.

1) Chinesisch Trainer, a blog for Germans wanting to learn Chinese.

2) Chineasy

3) Hacking Chinese

4) Shiny Chinese

5) Yoyo Chinese

6) Dig Mandarin

The Best Japanese Learning Blogs

1) All Japanese All The Time

With four votes, this Japanese blog was the most popular among the blogs for learning a single language. I love the tagline: "You don't learn a language. You get used to it."

2) Tofugu

3) JLPT Boot Camp

The Best Korean Learning Blogs

1) Talk to Me in Korean

A runaway winner with five votes! This site is SERIOUS about Korean.

2) Sydney to Seoul

The Best Arabic Learning Blogs

Again, equal votes for each.

1) The Arabic Student

2) Learn Arabic with Maha on Youtube

The Best Dutch Learning Blog

Uncontested, tee hee!

Dutch Word of the Day

The Best Italian Learning Blog

The Iceberg Project

The Best Spanish Learning Blogs

1) El Español Sin Misterios

This Mexican blog for Spanish learners got the most votes, and it's all in Spanish and full of interesting facts so you can really immerse yourself.

And the Runners-Up, with one vote each:

2) XKCD in Spanish

3) Lightspeed Spanish

4) El Blog de Español

5) Reflecciones

The Best Irish Learning Blog

Bitesize Irish Gaelic

The Best Russian Learning Blog

Russificate

The Best Norwegian Life Blog

Life in Norway

Wow, thank you all so much for entering the giveaway and voting for your favourite blogs. The list above is amazing, such a great resource for learners of any language. What's your favourite? Have you found something new in this list? Anything to add? Don't forget to comment and tell me what you think.

PS: The next giveaway is coming up in time for Christmas, so make sure you don't miss out by signing up to the Fluent Newsletter today.

Thanks for reading this article on Fluent, the Language Learning Blog. If you are feeling stuck right now, why not subscribe to Fluent and check out our language book shop.

First Fluent Meetup in London: Come Join Us on 18 October

Londoners!

Come along and meet Kerstin, chat about languages and the ones you're currently learning over a nice cup of tea (or a G and T) in London.

Kerstin will be there along with some special guests to answer all your language learning questions, give encouragement and chat about blogging and language teaching!

We will be meeting up at the Language Show Live venue, which is the Olympia in London and making our way to a nearby pub to hang out.

Nearest tube station: Kensington (Olympia)

The event is FREE but please let us know you're coming via Facebook

New Podcast! Lost in Translation, the 80/20 Rule and French Grammar

Woo hoo, it's time for a new podcast episode!

Learn more about the Fluent French course

Learn more about the Fluent French course

In episode 7, I have some great stories for you. Some inspiring, some thoughtful. We start with our news article of the week, the story of Eleven Years Lost in Translation as shared by Reprieve UK on Medium. And then there's a full interview, this time I'm being interviewed by John Colley from the Online Learning Podcast. It was a great conversation, we talked about Wales and vocabulary and my French Grammar course!

Now on Stitcher

If you're using Stitcher, you can now find the Creative Language Learning Podcast on there too. Help us out by giving it some stars! Here's an easy link to Stitcher's website.

Introducing First Results and Happy Readers

In the journey of creating something individual and unique, sometimes we can't see the wood for the trees. For me, the most recent months have at times felt like this. I wrote The Vocab Cookbook and reviewed and updated all of Fluency Made Achievable, created the resources for the online Combo pack and so much more.

After the first month of my books being published, I'm excited to let you know that I have counted over 50 happy readers already. And here is PROOF that people are making real progress.

The new readers have been:

  • Trying out exciting memorization techniques like memory palaces - just check out Richard Gilzean's story, for example
  • Organising their learning routines better through the Three Week Plan in Fluency Made Achievable
  • Testing their own core skills profiles
  • Inspired to make their own vocab learning recipes inspired by my interview with Oli Antosch in The Vocab Cookbook
  • Started a whole new Flashcard library - on paper, not on Anki!

You Can Try Before You Buy

I am over the moon today and so proud to be giving you an exclusive first ever sample of the official Fluency Made Achievable AUDIOBOOK! The intro and conclusion are read in my own voice, with the bulk of the book coming to you read by a fabulous voice artist (another Kirsten!) hand selected by me.

Here is a round-up of where you can get yourself a copy of the new Fluent guides.

On Fluentlanguage.co.uk

language learning books

I am selling the best packages on my own website, featuring three file formats for all e-readers as well as worksheets and bonuses. Read them on your iPad, Kindle, Nook, kobo or desktop screen. There is a format for each one.

The UK Store has Fluency Made Achievable* and The Vocab Cookbook*.

The US Store has Fluency Made Achievable and The Vocab Cookbook.

If you're located somewhere else, simply search your amazon store for "Kerstin Hammes".

On Audible

Yes indeed, Fluency Made Achievable is now available on Audible, a great marketplace for audiobooks for any kinds of readers. I'm right next to Michel Thomas!

New subscribers to Audible can even listen to the full audiobook for free as part of their free trial.

First Book Reviews:

I am reading your book and loving it, loving it! You’re the only one I’ve read that discussions the four core skills, offers assessments and a plan! (Judi Martindale)

I have devoured your books and I really enjoyed them. (Marco Nieri)

You can read lots more reviews on Amazon too! Have you checked the books out yet?

*these links are affiliate links which help me keep www.fluentlanguage.co.uk going

No Lessons Required: How An American Girl Learnt a New Language (Hint: It's Called "British")

Hey everyone, today's I'm very excited to welcome a second guest post from Alice Morell. She writes about the world of music over at  http://mymusicbox.org, and you can also find her on Twitter. But today, Alice is on Fluent to share her own foreign language experience, which might be a little different from what you'd imagine.

Over to Alice..

I'd spent a fair share of my free time over my teenage years studying the English culture, being especially engrossed in its literature and the romanticism of the Victorian Era. What can I say—though I quite love literature and many other forms of art and expression, this particular time and place has always been outstandingly magical to me. While this gave me some introduction to what I was about to experience, the reality of it was to completely blow me away. As I got off the plane at one of the busiest airports in the world, London Heathrow Airport, my head swam with images of Big Ben and the Palace Gardens, imagining what it would be like to have memories of being in those places. Little did I know it was going to be the differences in our use of English that would be the most surprising memories I’d make, and the thing that let me know that though we shared a language, I wasn't in Kansas anymore.

As I stood in the baggage claim with the other students from my class, listen to them talk excitedly about what they wanted to see and do first in England, I had a conversation that encompassed my first bit of culture shock.  A man had just gotten off the same plane, and we had been chatting amicably about our trips.  Things had seemed relatively normal until his suitcase came by. Scooping it up off the conveyor belt, he waved to me and said “Well! Was great meeting you, now I'm off to knock up my girlfriend!”

As you might imagine, this set us all laughing among ourselves, and even our teacher had to laugh. “He means he's going to go visit her, 'knocking up' just means to knock at their door to wake them. Now get your minds out of the gutter!”

Asking For The "Non-Swimming" Baths

The next thing I encountered about the oddities of language involved the word 'chips'; this one, however, was thankfully quite a bit less embarrassing.  I had envisioned having Fish and Chips while here in London, a decidedly simple but popular food, and a classic staple of Britishness.  Little did I know I was going to wind up with a plate of deep-fried fish and French fries!  They call potato chips “crisps” there, and that's what I was actually after.  But the fries weren't unwelcome. Come on, I was raised in the U.S.

Fish and Fries

Fish and Fries

We had arrived in the middle of the summer, and on a particular hot day were asked if “us birds would like to go the bath”.  After a momentary shocked laugh at their forwardness, we once again were alerted that the language caught us “baths” in England are American swimming pools, and “birds” are young women like we ourselves were.  That one I actually thought made a lot of sense, it being close to our “chicks”.

I also got a disapproving look from a severe older waitress at a restaurant when I asked if they had biscuits, apparently they agree with mothers at home that cookies aren't breakfast food.  They don't have anything like what we call biscuits at home. 

In England, if you ask for biscuits, this is what you’ll get.

In England, if you ask for biscuits, this is what you’ll get.

After having breakfast I asked one of our new British mates (which means friend rather than partner) where the bathroom was, and he directed me to the bog, but not before he gave me some grief about how they didn't have bathtubs in a restaurant restroom, just closets (Which is what we typically think of as a standard bathroom, with just a toilet).  I in turn told him that in America we were civilized and used toilets, rather than still going out to to a swamp or a wardrobe to do our business.  So much confusion was just trying to relieve myself! 

The other point of confusion in conversation had to do with our education, where colleges in the UK is applied to a type of institution similar to our high schools.  When I started talking about the Theater Conservatory at our college back home, they seemed quite confused about our theater classes being held in a greenhouse, as that is what the word “conservatory” means there.  I had to explain that we use the term to describe places that teach music, among other things like drama.

A “conservatory” in Great Britain.

A “conservatory” in Great Britain.

It was a great experience, and I made some wonderful friends while I was there.  While I occasionally talk about how awe-inspiring the tourist sites were, it's the laughs and fun that was had just trying to figure out what we were trying to say to each other that will forever stick in my memory and be what I tell the funniest stories about. 

 

Thanks for reading this article on Fluent - The Language Learning Blog. Don't forget - if you sign up to our newsletter, you will receive a free Guide to the Best Language Learning Resources!

And if you're into more articles about the quirks of British vs American English, I strongly recommend you check out the separated by a common language blog by Lynne Murphy.

How to Hack Language Like a Lumberjack (or: What's Your Hacking Hobby?)

As a linguist it's not part of my job to criticize and begrudge the evolving use of language. When words like "selfie" enter the dictionary and half the country of Britain starts calling things awesome, I'm right there. Both teaching and describing language are more about being aware of the words that we use every day and documenting how people communicate. And today I wanted to dive into the deeper meaning of a word that seems to have completely transformed its meaning over recent years. It's language-related, and learning-related too. And to me, it's become about mindset. I often find myself rolling my eyes at this one, but read on to find out more about the original meaning of the word that won't go away: hacking.

From Rough Cuts to Life Tips

Here's what the original meaning of the word hack would have looked like:

Logger

Back in the 20th century, hacking wasn't much more than making tough cuts into wood or meat to take it apart. The word's meaning started its transformation in the 1960s at MIT, first describing different study styles and later taking on the "computer hacker" meaning we all think of these days. As a German speaker, the word "Hack(fleisch)" also evokes a relation to the English "hash"..in the food context), not what you might have been thinking!

The figurative meaning is about disruption and about destroying existing structures. You go in with rough power and take something apart to gain access to what's underneath. In computing, this is how hacking (strictly speaking "password hacking") came to mean cutting through the defences of a network to get at the information protected within.

These days though, it's clear that the idea of hacking has struck a chord with so many people that the word has entered common usage for many of us. You can "hack" anything, with a vague association of "making it easier without too much effort".

The leading examples of stuff that can be hacked seem to be IKEA, life and..language! Here are just a few references

  • To start with the obvious, at least for readers of Fluent, there is the Language Hacking Guide, an ebook by Benny Lewis all about quick ways to learn and use languages
  • There is IKEA Hacking, a practice of taking your tools to flatpack furniture from IKEA in order to make it into the furniture of your dreams
  • Travel Hacking promises to open up the world of travel for people without making them spend a lot of money through the use of airmiles and credit cards.
  • And you may have also seen websites like Lifehacker, sharing tips of varying usefulness about any aspect of making living a little bit easier (here's a classic unnecessary "hack")

Here is a diagram from Google Trends showing how the last three years in particular have been the time of the hacks. In addition to the four leading terms, I did try to add some minor terms as well such as "career hacking", "diet hacking" and "future hacking", but those pale in comparison next to these big things that might need to be hacked:

So, About the Language Hacking Context

The original definition of the term "hack" is an inelegant but effective solution to a specific computing problem.

With this definition in mind, the idea of language hacking will appeal to learners who want to cut time spent studying and maximize time spent talking. We all love bridging a gap with the least effort required. Where the idea of "hacking" in the language context can make sense is when it comes to getting out of books and classroom. I particularly like the idea of making the "language hack" a subversion of what you remember from your own language lessons in school. This is not about repeating pitch-perfect phrases in order to hit a grade, but about going out and making a mistake in order to learn. The thing you're hacking is not the learning method, but the mindset.

While "language hacking" certainly doesn't mean that you'll start uncovering magic secrets of language learning, the attention-grabbing title gives you an idea of taking the unconventional approach. Learning by doing and following an individual path in learning, that's a super valuable message. Maybe it should be called "study hacking", since you're not actually doing much to the language itself.

What Do You Hack?

Personally, I have always thought that the word "hack" is plain ugly. I can't help associating it with axes, pain and brutality, so you're unlikely to see any Fluent Hacking products coming any time soon. And yes, here we can see the stereotypical masculine associations again, right? "Hacking" originates in the tech world (which we know is totally a man's world, even in the 21st century!) and is a word used to demonstrate power and force. The side of me that enjoys the idea of subverting and playing with existing rules rejoices at every life, language and travel hack that I see out there. In other words, I don't like "hacking", but I love creativity.

Some other perspectives: * The Faux Hackers who Hacked the Word Hacking on Vasco * Where Does the Word Hacking Come From? on English Stackexchange

What about you? Ever hacked a language?

Field Report: Three Strategies You'll Wish You Knew When You Hit a Wall Learning a Foreign Language

Boy, have I got a useful guest post for you today! Cher Hale's language of choice is Italian - she's best described as a relationship counsellor between humans and the Italian language. Once they’ve fallen in love and the honeymoon period ends, she helps them stay committed until they’re conversational. You can read her vocabulary speed-dates, grammatical musings, and cultural cocktail party facts at The Iceberg Project or on Twitter @cherhale.

In today's post, Cher is lending us a hand to help with the inevitable frustration that comes with the language learning journey.

I sat at my desk and stared at the screen.

The Chinese characters seemed to taunt me as I wrote their literal meaning in English to grasp why one character went after the verb here and after the subject in so many other cases. 

After five minutes, I sighed, rolled my eyes at the Mandarin language, and moved on. 

Four months prior I would’ve let frustration take over.

In fact, when I was learning Italian, frustration was the reason why I stopped lessons, and if it weren’t for my commitment to The Iceberg Project, I would not have reached the level where I’m at now.

With Mandarin I find myself running into the same frustration, but instead of wanting to quit, I feel more at ease and motivated to tackle the language again.

What inspired that difference?

What did I learn in six months that changed my view of frustration?

 When I’m not learning Mandarin or writing for the Italian site, I’m usually reading an academic paper (or watching Doctor Who) – most notably from the Modern Language Journal. On one of my most recent linguistic explorations, I stumbled across a linguist named Stephen Krashen from the University of Southern California.

He talks about the Comprehension Hypothesis, which suggests “we acquire language and develop literacy when we understand what we hear and what we read” (Krashen, 2014).

This means that what comes in – books, audio, and lessons – are more important than what goes out – speaking and writing. 

There is more to this theory, so if you’re interested, read this interview from Language Mastery.

3 Ways to Reduce Frustration

According to Krashen, other polyglots and my experience, there a few key ways to reduce frustration.

1)  Understand that you don’t learn grammar concepts, phrases, or vocabulary until you’re ready to learn them.

This point comes from Krashen, and it’s interesting to note how representative this point is of life.

How many times have you gone through difficult situations and only learned the lesson after the third time?

The lesson was there and had been waiting for you all along. You only needed to develop to a certain level to absorb it.

So when it comes to grammar, know that you won’t learn certain concepts until you’re ready.

You can try hard to memorize usages and nitpicky rules, but studies suggest you need to be at a certain level first.

Like the famous polyglot, Kató Lomb, paraphrased from the original German:

One learns grammar from language, not language from grammar.

 (Original German: “Man lernt Grammatik aus der Sprache, nicht Sprache aus der Grammatik.” – Toussaint and Langenscheidt)

 While this might sound depressing (because you can’t game the system and memorize everything), it’s actually liberating.

What this means for you: When you encounter a difficult concept or don’t understand something, seek an answer. If it’s still not connecting, LET IT GO.

You might not understand it today, but I guarantee that as you continue learning, it and one hundred other invisible things, will become visible. It will be frustrating, but you’ll be more at ease when you let yourself off the hook after honouring that this is how our minds work.

2)  Drop boring textbooks, and pick up content that interests you. 

Some might argue with me, but I think you can use interesting, relevant content in your target language no matter what level you’re at.

For example, Lomb, the polyglot mentioned earlier, used a Russian novel to learn Russian. She never went to a class and learned rules. She used what she had – a compelling novel – and worked through it. 

What this means for you: Find a book, a television show, a magazine, or even memes online that you’re interested in to integrate into your learning schedule.

 Don’t have a schedule or know what to do each day? Read this: Four Easy Techniques for Using Foreign Language Every Day

You can also learn techniques for how to read books here : How to Read in a Foreign Language

For tips on how to watch movies and shows effectively, go here : Are You Wasting Your Time Watching Foreign Language Movies?

My final point is that the more background knowledge you have on a topic, the easier the content will be to acquire, so use content you’re familiar with AND enjoy.

3)  Stop EVERYTHING, and be honest with what is and what is not working.

Humans are creatures of habit – both good and bad.

Out of routine, we use a technique to learn and keep doing it even though we recognize we’re not learning from it anymore.

 Then we get confused because we know we’re supposed to be learning everyday, but we’re not sure what we should be doing that actually works.

 At this point, many of us fall off the wagon…but that doesn’t have to be you.

 What this means for you: Look candidly at the techniques you’re using.

 Questions to ask are:

  • Am I using a material that I hate or find boring?
  • Am I studying at a time when I’m unfocused or tired?
  • Am I still using a technique from when I was a beginner that is no longer serving me as an intermediate learner?

Then, take out a sheet of paper and make three columns.

My worksheet for what works and what doesn't!

My worksheet for what works and what doesn't!

Column I: What I l love doing to learn in (target language)

Colum II: What I dread doing

Column III: What I want to try doing

  • Write 4-5 items per column.
  • Look at column II and either find creative ways to make them fun or let them go.
  • Make plans for trying the activities listed in column III.

This can be tough if we think that memorizing 10 words a day is “supposed” to help, but give it a try. Letting go of things you hate or find boring will reduce frustration and invite more joy into the process.

 The strategies people claim have been effective for them may not be effective for you. Try them out, and if they haven’t proved themselves within a month, wave goodbye.

 Remember, in this process you are the most important person, so make the best decisions for you.

Now, I want to hear from you.

Are you struggling with frustrations that these suggestions didn’t cover?

Have you found other strategies that helped?

Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading this article on Fluent, the Language Learning Blog. If you are feeling stuck right now, why not subscribe to Fluent and check out our language book shop.