1. Eaves-dropping: This learner strategy was mentioned as useful by surveyed students (Oxford, 1996). This strategy would fall under Bandura’s (1977) social learning theory.
2. Silent rehearsal (a.k.a private speech or subvocal rehearsal): Yes, practicing the word silently in your head is useful!
3. Read your favorite children’s book in that new language. For, example, try reading Saint-Exupéry's (1943) The Little Prince in the target language. It never loses its beauty.
4. Find a tutor to exchange language journals. Meet with them regularly and informally. Write about what interests you.
5. Immerse yourself in the everyday language communicated on the foreign language radio stations, TV channels, and local newspapers.
6. Learn the shared words that have crept into their language through pop culture, history, or religion. These are called friendly cognates. Also, learn the false cognates; they don’t mean the same thing.
7. Study, test, test, test yourself on the grammar to develop a long-term memory of it. Roediger & Karpicke (2006) found that students in the treatment group of study-test-test-test (STTT), outperformed other students in other treatment groups (S-S-S-T and S-S-S-S). This is referred to as the testing effect. Use electronic flashcards to test yourself. See infographic below.
8. Become the extrovert that pushes the envelope to encounter opportunities to practice the language by yourself. If you hang out with other English language speakers, they'll keep you from learning the new language. Visit locations where no one speaks English.
9. Change the settings on your technical devices (e.g., smartphone, computer, TV) to the target language. This will force you to interact with the language on a daily basis. Plus, you'll learn the technical language in the target language.
10. Watch classic children’s movies in the target language. This strategy is similar to #3 but with media, you'll hear the language. I remember watching Pinocchio in Spanish when I was in the Peace Corps in Honduras at a movie theater. Nowadays, you can simply select the language settings on your movie streaming devices.
Do you have some of your own strategies? Please share them with Sandra Rogers (email@example.com) to be included in this list.
Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Oxford, R. (1996). Language learning strategies around the world: Cross-cultural perspectives. Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center: University of Hawai'i at Manoa.
Roediger, H. L. III, & Karpicke, J. D. (2006). The power of testing memory: Basic research and implications for educational practice. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1, 181-210.
Want to learn Italian? Learn it with the Spring Hill College (SHC) Italy Center in a true immersion environment. Learn the language in our classrooms, with your Italian friends living in the Alma Mater, and around town. Read more about this opportunity with the SHC Italy Center. Like their Facebook page to learn about updates.
Practice your Spanish through the SHC international service immersion programs (ISIP)! The SHC Campus Ministry programs integrate learning, faith, justice, and service. During spring break or Mardi Gras break each year, many of our students immerse themselves in another culture while helping others through international service trips. For example, in Belize and Nicaragua, they have built houses for poverty-stricken families. In El Salvador, they have lived in solidarity with people still suffering from the effects of the country’s civil war. Visit this Facebook page to learn more: https://www.facebook.com/SHCISIP
Teach English as a second language (ESL) to immigrants and refugees from all over the world through the Foley Center. No foreign language needed. One of the most important services you can offer.
Classes meet on the Spring Hill College campus Mondays and Thursdays, 7:00-9:00 p.m., during Fall and Spring semesters.
Contact Dr. Erik Goldschmidt, 251-380-3499, for more information.
Duolingo is a very basic app for you to practice a foreign language. It provides immediate feedback on your progress. Whether you are a beginner or in need of a refresher, Duolingo has tasks for you in speaking, translating, transcribing, and matching. It's free!
In search of free language learning materials? How about something for non-mainstream languages? I was impressed with the free section on LiveLingua, which shares all of the professional learning material from organizations like the U.S. Peace Corps and Foreign Service. Check it out!
Many of you are familiar with Google Translation, but have you tried it lately? If you type a complete sentence, it does a fairly good job in translating it now. Paragraphs translate even better because the meaning can be determined from context. This is much better than word-for-word. Moreover, it will pronounce it for you! Just click on the microphone icon.