Learning Strategies Tips
Each person has different learning styles. It is important to know how you learn best. Are you a visual learner who learns by sight. Are you an audio learner who learns by listening. Are you a kinestetic learner who learns by moving. Know what type of learner you are will help you best determine what strategies you will use to learn a language. It is interesting to note that we learn our native languages by listening to them first. An infant listens and understands their mother tongue for years before they are actually speaking.
Learn vocabulary by association of words. I have been studying the latest on whole brain learning which is applying educational techniques based on knowledge of the brain. It has been shown that the brain learns by association of something new with something old. I see this time and time again with my students. When we introduce a new word they automatically try and place it next to a word they already know by saying that sounds like so and so. When I introduced the word "Fattoria" they would say that sounds like factory does it mean the same? It doesn't but the association is made. So when you are learning new vocabulary associate the new word with an English word and you will remember it better. Some words associate better then others, but remembering this technique will cement in your memory those words that easily can be associated.
Learn vocabulary by speaking it. Whole brain learning has shown that learning is associated with movement. Little children learn the language the first two years by listening to commands that make them do something. This type of learning is embodied in the learning technique called Total Physical Response. So idealy if you could put yourself in a situation where you have to move with the language you would learn it quickly. (If you live in a foreign country you immediately begin to give and take commands. You learn it pretty quickly). Now the typical student can't always find themselves in this situation, but as you are learning the language if you speak it out loud you are moving your jaw and verbalizing it. The audio and verbal work further cements your vocabulary aquisition as opposed to just thinking about it. So if you are listening to CD's or using a book, always try to verbalize your vocabulary. This will help you retain it better.
Learn by means of chunking. Chunking means learning short 3 word expressions. I see this with my students all the time, when they learn a short expression it comes easier than learning a 5 to 7 word expression.
Think in the language. This is a crucial step that will take your language to the next level. OK so you may have studied the language for thirty minutes on Sunday but if you don't practice it somehow, like anything else it will be lost. So while you are waiting in that line for the cashier, you can be thinking about the food words that you learned in your last foreign language lesson. Make the most of that time. If you you start thinking in the foreign language, this will reinforce what you have learned and the words will start to flow automatically.
Audio Method- Since speaking and listening are two great ways to learn the language spontaneously a great way to learn vocabulary is to tape youself saying the vocabulary and then listening to it over again. Perhaps in the car or as you study. This method en allows for frequent repetition which is key in learning new vocabulary.
Listen to music in the target language. Music speaks to a certain part of our brain that makes remembering so much easier. Find some foreign language music and appreciate the musical talents of a culture.
Translate in the target language. Once you have established some Knowledge level in the language, make an attempt to translate the language. Start small and translate a paragraph a day, or when ever you can. Translations are great because they put you in contact with the language as a whole not just as parts like learning a phrase or a particular language. Translate something that you are expert in, you will be amazed at how many cognates you may know.
Vocabulary Method- You could learn lists of words that are themed. Lists of food words, house words, greetings etc. Or you could use the dictionary and choose random words. I think learning the themed words will be of most value as you start. You can find them in any good text book.
Read stories or articles in the target language. Brain research has shown that we learn vocabulary better when it is presented to us in a meaningful manner. So read newspaper articles and stories in the target language and you will understand it better because it will have meaning. If you could get your hands on some children's storys that you know then translating it will be easier since you already know the story.