Hannes Saarmets

Profesor de inglés

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3 ideas that make learning a language more useful

Learning foreign languages is useful. It helps to create connections with different parts of the world. However, it can be a waste of time and energy if it is not well organised. I will give 3 tips to learn languages effectively. Remember and explain them to your instructor.

The content must be related to your interests, not adapted to your level.
Every beginning is difficult. Beginner learners sometimes complain that the materials are too difficult. It can be true, but the problem might also lay somewhere else. What if the content is boring? Easy, but boring material does not motivate you. The more interesting the material, the more curious you become. For example, imagine you are passionate about green energy and you watch a news on environment technology in a foreign language. How would you react: “I want to know what there is!” or “It is so difficult to understand!”?
A tip: be aware of the style of the material. If you are reading a scientific text and you do not understand it, maybe it is so because you do not like scientific texts. If so, then it would be difficult to understand them even in your native language!

Choose original content to generic.
If a material is modified (with a purpose of making it easy to understand) it does not represent the reality. It is “fossilized reality” at best. While learning, you are preparing yourself for real life situations. The sooner you practice them, the better. For example, it is indispensable you watch and read news, because are the principal source of information nowadays. When you learn a foreign language, should you immediately start watching interesting news in that language? Any good reasons why you should not?
A tip: Focus on one block of the material instead of the entire content.
Do not move on before you have understood the most essential ideas. On the other hand, continue as soon as you have understood the basics. You can focus on the details if you have extra time and curiosity!


Create your own content and make it public. At least occasionally.
It can mean publishing an article in a social media, but also writing a document and sharing it with a few people. It is important you create a real content (not generic!) which has a real value to someone. In order to know what the value is, you must understand why you are learning the language. For example, if you exchange mails from foreign partners in your work, write a mail in the language you are learning. And send it out!
A tip: stop being a perfectionist. If you want to create “perfect or nearly perfect materials in a foreign language, you have to do it a lot of times. How does a baby learn to walk? Standing up, falling down, then standing up again. This is learning! Just make a start!

When you feel your learning is not useful, it does not always mean the materials are easy or difficult, that you are not talented. It is important to do things right, but it is essential to do right things as well. The right things are not only things that your learning instructor or teacher tells you to do. Everything that you learn must be related to your personal interests!  

 

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