I don’t want to imply I’m any good at languages, because I tried for about five years to learn Japanese before giving up on it despondently. I’m hoping French will be a little easier because there is no writing system to master and the grammar is similar to English. Here are some tips that have helped me with my learning so far:
- The first thing to do is to get the right equipment! I’m a stationery freak, so this comes naturally to me. For languages, I think the key to progressing is to learn the grammar and build up a good vocabulary so you can begin to speak in full sentences. So I have these two books in A5, which is a good size to throw into a bag to go to a café, or review on the train or bus. One is for Vocabulary Lists, and the other is for Phrases and Expressions. To build fluency, as soon as I learn a new verb or noun, I try to use it in a sentence and record it in my Phrases and Expressions book. Then later I read through them and try to memorise them.
- Also, because French verbs are so complex, I have a little memo book, with a page for each new verb I encounter. I write out all the verb tables in the book, just as I was taught to do in school. It’s a lot of rote learning, but I think for languages, repetition helps you remember. If you are studying an Asian language, a little book like this would be good for recording the characters. You could have a page per character, with notes on its pronunciation and examples of how it is used. However, you’d probably need a book with about 2,000 pages to cover all the characters you’d need to know. Now you can see why I gave up on learning Japanese!
- When I look up a new word, I highlight it in my dictionary. Normally, I don’t like to write on books (I have a thing about it!). But I think this helps you find the word again later, and it shows you how much you have learnt so far.
- My last tip is to review your notes within 24 hours of each lesson. After class, I usually just want to go home, but recently I’ve decided to go to the cafeteria to study and do my homework after class. This has taken the pressure off me, as it’s difficult to find the time later in the week. The lure of caffeine also helps!
More study tips from Zoe at Home:
PS: I know I promised that I was going to sort out my filing system and share the results with you, but that task has been usurped by a much more pressing one. See my Coming soon page for an explanation!