They’re faster than a brisk drive in the country.
They’re easier than a connect-the-dots puzzle of a twig.
No, they’re not some unique but remarkably disinteresting and ill-conceived superhero team—they’re quick, easy language study tips!
While they might not save the world, they could revolutionize how you study a language.
The great thing about these tips is that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been studying languages—they work for learners of all levels.
So go ahead and try out these study tips right away!
They’re sure to become favorites.
Instant Classics: 14 New Language Study Tips to Whip Out Now
Try something new.
When you do something all the time, it’s easy to fall into a habit. Whether it’s eating the same breakfast each day, taking the same route to work or studying using the same familiar methods, you might find yourself stuck in a rut. And with language learning, this rut can have serious consequences.
You might not be learning as much as you could, or you may even be getting bored of language learning. Luckily, your learning routine can be reinvigorated by trying something new. Switching tactics can help you see the language in a different light or even reignite your passion for learning.
FluentU is one innovative and super easy option to rejuvenate your study routine. FluentU uses authentic, real-world videos, including music videos, movie trailers, news and more, and converts them into powerful learning tools. Each video is captioned, and these captions are annotated, giving you quick, easy access to any word’s definition, example sentences and an associated image.
Another option that could be surprisingly easy and fun is to try starting a YouTube channel in your target language! You can vlog about daily life to give people abroad insight into what life is like where you live. Meanwhile, you’ll also get tons of great speaking practice, and you can even pick up a little reading and writing practice in the comments section.
Alternately, if you’re not at a stage where you can start a channel in your target language, it may be easier to start a vlog or blog where you talk about and track your language learning.
Use your phone’s lock screen to learn vocabulary.
Your lock screen usually just sits there and looks pretty. But what if it could help you study your target language?
The good news is that your lock screen can do just that. Just screenshot a vocabulary list and set it as your lock screen to increase your exposure to those vocabulary words you just can’t remember.
On most Android devices, you can take a screenshot by holding the power and volume down buttons at the same time.
You can then set your lock screen in your device’s settings.
Now, every time you look at your phone to check the time or see if you have any new texts, you’ll also see your vocabulary words, and keep them fresh in your mind.
Up the ante. Bet on yourself.
Chances are, someone in your life thinks you can’t do it, so consider making a bet. It doesn’t even matter if it’s something tiny. Just making the bet will give you the added motivation you need to prove your critics wrong.
If you need an outside service to keep everyone honest, you might try a betting service that allows custom bets, such as Tedbets. All you have to do is decide what you’re betting on, invite your friends and agree on a wager.
Sometimes, putting your money where your mouth is is the extra motivation you need to keep you on track to your goals.
It’s no secret that competition is a tremendous drive. Why else would so many people be so desperate to get the latest Instagrammable foods without regard for their flavor?
Yes, competition is a huge motivator, so you might as well harness it to propel you towards fluency. All you have to do is set goals with a learning buddy (or buddies) and see who can meet them the fastest.
One fun way to do this is to set up a Facebook group dedicated to the competition. Then, you can take turns setting your goals and posting them to the group page. Whoever achieves the goal first simply needs to post to the group to let everyone know that they’re done.
To ensure that cheaters do not prosper, other members of the group are then entitled to quiz them on the information as they see fit. If it’s found that the contestant did, in fact, learn the material the fastest, they get a point.
Every few weeks, tally up the total points each of you has received. Whoever has the lowest total point count treats everyone to a round of coffee, during which you can practice your conversation skills together!
Use a translator app incessantly.
Translator apps can be any language learner’s best friend. Whenever you use a word in your native language that you don’t know in your target language, look it up quickly in a translator.
Once you start paying attention, you’re likely to notice tons of words that you use in your native language that you’ve never thought to learn in your target language. For instance, do you know the word for “squirrel”? Probably not. What about “fingernail”? Despite being very common words, they’re just not priorities, so many language learners overlook words like this.
Luckily, with your handy translator app, you don’t have to leave these words unlearned! Everyone has their favorite, and let’s be honest—it’s often Google Translate (available for iOS and Android). Google Translate has plenty of resources to help you learn new vocabulary. For instance, you can use your camera for instant translation—perfect for translating words from your target language or from your native language to your target language for a little extra learning.
Plus, Google Translate offers voice translation. The next time you have a few free moments, try reading excerpts from your favorite book into Google Translate to learn a few vocabulary words you may never have realized you didn’t know.
Translate to your target language in your head.
We’ve all had it happen—there’s an incredibly boring meeting or lecture, and it’s nearly impossible to stay focused. All you can do is caffeinate heavily and hope you don’t noticeably drift off. However, boring moments like this don’t need to be a struggle to stay awake. Instead, they can be a language learning opportunity.
Whenever you’re listening to something in your native language that isn’t as captivating as you’d like, just translate to your target language in your head. You can practice your target language and keep your focus on the boring material. Not only can this help you stay awake during even the dullest lectures and meetings, your language skills will also likely improve.
Now that’s the best kind of multitasking.
Use any new vocabulary you acquire ASAP.
Many learners experience a major problem learning vocabulary. Even if you go over your vocabulary lists time and time again, you may soon forget the new vocabulary. That’s because while you’ve studied it, you haven’t actually used it.
Using your new vocabulary is a helpful way to reinforce vocabulary and also prepare you to continue using it. If you have language learning friends, now would be a good opportunity to have a conversation with them. Purposely try to work in the words you’ve studied most recently.
If you don’t have any language learning friends, that’s alright, too! Talk to yourself in your target language using the words you just studied.
Pick the right time of day for you.
Everyone has different times of day when they’re most productive, and this is true for language learning as much as anything else. Therefore, you should take time of day into consideration when selecting when you do the bulk of your studying.
For instance, if you’re most focused in the mornings, that would be a terrific time to study. Get hangry before lunch? Maybe avoid studying until you have a good meal in your belly.
The main key here is paying attention to what works for you. Why waste time studying when your brain just isn’t working at its fullest capacity?
Make your studying revolve around your interests.
One of the nicest things about language study is that it can revolve completely around your interests. After all, if the goal is learning new words and reinforcing grammar, you can do that just as easily by enjoying resources you’re actually interested in. This will not only motivate you to study, it will also give you the vocabulary you need to continue enjoying your interests and hobbies.
For instance, if you’re interested in sports, watch a sportscast in your target language. If you’re a news junkie, try watching the news in your target language.
Sling allows you to stream international TV live for a monthly fee. Otherwise, many TV channels offer online streaming or at least some programming on their websites.
You can find names of international channels by searching by region on the International Television Expert Group’s website. Then, just search online to find their websites.
If you have other hobbies, there are certainly resources for those hobbies in your target language, too. For instance, if you love cooking, try searching “recipes” in your target language for some awesome dishes you’ll definitely want to make tonight.
If studying feels like work, change how you’re studying.
You dread doing it. It’s boring. It seems slow moving. You just don’t like it. If any of these things ring a bell when it comes to studying, it’s time to change what you’re doing.
Because if you don’t like studying, you’re less likely to do it consistently. And thankfully, studying really doesn’t need to be something you hate doing. There are plenty of different ways to study, so all you need to do is find one that you like.
For instance, if you dread studying vocabulary lists, try a different method to learn vocabulary. There are plenty of resources to learn vocabulary that don’t involve slaving over word lists.
For instance, you might try vocabulary quizzes or games, like the user-submitted vocabulary quizzes on Quizlet.
You can also listen to music in your target language. Resources like Lyrics Training can connect you with great foreign language songs along with supportive learning materials, like a fill-in-the-blank style game that challenges you to understand the song lyrics.
Whenever one study method starts to feel like work, it’s time to try something new. This can re-energize you on your road to fluency.
Write what you hope to learn by hand.
In the internet age, it might seem old-fashioned, but it doesn’t hurt to write things out by hand. Whether you’re hand writing vocabulary lists, grammar rules or conjugation charts, writing out material is a helpful learning tool that’s often underused nowadays.
While the study of the effects of writing by hand on learning is complex, handwriting requires more time and visual focus than typing, and the very use of hands may aid in language development. In fact, one study found that children actually learned spelling better when writing by hand.
So go ahead and do things the old-fashioned way. Sometimes, traditional methods really are the best!
Get on your feet!
You don’t have to just sit around while you study! Get up and move around, and you might see improvements to both your health and your learning.
That’s because moving while studying could help keep you awake and focused. One study suggests that kids who move around while learning may absorb more information than those who remain sedentary. While it’s unclear if these same results could be replicated with older learners, it’s worth a shot. At the very least, you can save a little time by combining studying and exercising.
Your physical activity can be whatever you enjoy. For instance, you might try jumping up and down as you repeat vocabulary words. You could try dancing to music in your target language. You could hit a punching bag as you go through verb conjugations. It might even release some conjugation-related aggression. Regardless, getting physical is a fun, easy way to break up your usual study routine and provide a new, invigorating approach.
Study some vocabulary before you sleep.
Regardless of what time of day works best for the bulk of your studying, you might want to set aside a few minutes before bed to go over some vocabulary.
If studying at night just isn’t your jam, you don’t have to do it very long, but a little studying before bed could help you retain more information. One study that tested participants on their memory of word pairs found that those who studied just before bed remembered more than those who studied in the morning. The researchers suggest that this is evidence that sleep can help stabilize memory.
Given this possibility, it might be worth whipping out your vocabulary list once more before bed. It could help you remember the words with less effort, and maybe even inspire some cool dreams in your target language.
Reward yourself for your accomplishments.
Hey, studying a language is hard. You deserve a reward!
As you study, set small goals for yourself and reward yourself for achieving these goals. This is a fun and easy way to keep yourself focused on the task at hand and motivated to keep working towards your objective.
Your reward can be anything you enjoy. If you love video games, maybe give yourself fifteen minutes of game time for each fifteen minutes of studying you complete.
Not only will you be eager to meet your objective so you can get your reward, having consistent rewards can also serve as a helpful reminder to study. For example, if you consistently use video games as a reward for studying, over time, you might come to associate the two.
It might be easy to forget to study if you don’t have a rewards system, but if you know you get to play video games after you study, you might remember to study whenever you feel like playing a video game.
These quick, easy language study tips could transform the way you learn, so give them a chance to change your world!
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