Today I have a guest article from a fellow female language lover for you. The ideas are snack bites you can focus on in just a few minutes, and I've love to hear more from you about how you have incorporated your physical wellbeing into your language learning time. The article comes from Alina Cincan, a former English and French teacher, translator and interpreter with over 10 years’ experience. These days she manages Inbox Translation. You can get in touch on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Everybody has the talent to learn a language. The fact you are reading this article proves you already have mastered at least one. Then why is studying so unsatisfying sometimes? Just as with acquiring any other skill, your body and brain should work together. When was the last time you checked in on the following aspects?
1. Choose activities to match your learning style
Everybody has some natural preference for processing information. If you find out what yours is, studying might become faster and more effective.
- Auditory learners prefer to learn by listening. If you enjoy talking and singing, you probably have auditory preference. In this case, you’d better apply more listening materials, reading aloud, repetition and discussions in your study plan.
- Visual learners perceive best when visually stimulated. If you have eye for colours and detail, and strong photographic memory, most likely you remember easier by seeing. Then it’s best to use more video materials, pictures, tables, diagrams, mind maps, etc.
- Kinaesthetic learners are doers. If you have difficulty keeping still and enjoy sports and dancing above all, you remember best with a hands-on approach. It’s a good idea to take frequent breaks, spend more time writing down and rehearsing the material.
Emphasising on a learning method we are naturally inclined to is useful. Nonetheless, combining more senses when studying creates more connections in the brain and increases the chance to learn and recall with ease.
2. Study during your peak performance times
Some people are night owls and feel more energetic in the evening; some are morning larks and active before noon. You know best when you feel best.
Commonly, people study when they have time for that. But in order to benefit most from the process, you should do the opposite: make time for studying, when your brain is functioning at its peak.
3. Make use of the Yerkes–Dodson law
Arousal could enhance (or impair) different tasks. You need calmness when absorbing information. But you might do yourself a favour by practicing the language in a more challenging environment. Having fun and stimulating conversations with different people is highly recommended.
4. Train, don’t study!
When acquiring a new language, studying, by itself, is not enough. Knowledge without application is a waste of time. You need to practise what you learn in every way possible – by speaking, reading, writing and even thinking in the new language only. In order to stay focused, train to use the language, instead of studying it.
5. Allow yourself to play
Learning doesn’t have to be boring. If you have a hard time staying motivated, turning the process into a game can do a lot to restore your enthusiasm. Get creative: include challenges, rules, rewards and a big enough stake into your schooling plan.
It may seem that language learning has nothing to do with sports. However, any physical activity boosts our energy and increases blood circulation, supplying our brains with oxygen. Thus, we become more perceptive and alert.
Some of the methods described above are quick and easy to apply; some may take time to master. You can test a few or all of them; adapt them to your specific needs, or keep them as reminders that a big part of the learning success involves creativity and engagement.
Remember, there’s no such thing as a universal method or a magic trick that guarantees overnight results. In order to learn effectively, we need to have clear goals and remain committed.