Characteristics of Successful Language Learners - A How To Guide by Rebecca Jackson - Profesor/a de inglés

Characteristics of Successful Language Learners - A How To Guide

Do not fear making mistakes. In fact, successful language learners are willing to take risks in order to improve their speech.

Everybody has to start somehwere. 

When you’re not used to speaking in a foreign language, your brain needs time to process incoming words, translate them, think of a response and translate that. Of course this is more difficult than speaking your own language!

Are you struggling more with putting your sentences together or understanding what’s being said to you in response? Try this trick: rather than trying to formulate an answer in your head while the other person is still talking, clear your mind and truly listen to what they’re saying.

Then take a moment to gather your thoughts and answer – when in doubt, put all your effort into listening!

You’ll never speak a language fluently without speaking a broken version of it first! The sooner you start talking, the sooner you’ll reach a conversational level.

It may be frustrating to feel like you’re making mistakes, but this will ultimately be outweighed by the reward of using the language long-term. So embrace your mistakes!
 

Develop and use strategies which enable you to guess what words might mean or which words to use.

When you come across a new word, try to figure out the meaning from the context. If you have no idea, look the word up online or in your dictionary and find out how you say words that you frequently use in your own language. New vocabulary is more meaningful and more memorable if set in a context, so create sentences or stories using the new words you’ve learnt and try to approach your vocabulary learning by themes or topics.

Practice using the target language at every chance you get.

Watch videos in English, listen to music in English, listen to podcasts, use English learning apps or find a Penpal! There are lots of opportunities out there to practice! Even try talking to yourself or in a mirror.

It helps at this point to recognise what type of learner you are - some people find it easier to read, some prefer listening. Consider this and do what works for you!

Begin to think in English rather than your native language
 

Thinking in a foreign language is an important goal that brings you one giant step closer to becoming fluent.  There is also the fact that language and culture are intertwined, and thinking in your target language is an essential part of being able to connect with the people you are trying to get to know.

It is not necessarily easy to think in a new language (especially if you’ve never done it before) but it is still simple – there is no magic here - BUT - If you make a conscious and continuous effort to think everything you can in your target language, you will begin to surprise yourself. You can do this anywhere, anytime.  One day you will hear yourself think “I like” instead of “a mi me encanta” and you will not even know where it came from. 

Monitor and adjust your own speech rather than rely on others.

By noting your mistakes you will have a record of your progress and can avoid repeating the same mistakes time and time again. It’s a good idea to have a set space in a notebook to write down any errors and the correct version. One way of doing it is to divide a page into three columns:
 
Mistake Correction Note
It depends of the weather It depends on the weather Not the same as in Spanish
I've lived in Barcelon since six years I've lived in Barcelona for six years

Since - for points in time

For - For periods 


Take note of what TYPE of mistakes you are making. There is a difference between making new mistakes and repeating old ones. New mistakes are usually a sign that you are exploring new uses of language or experimenting with new vocabulary.
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