Create your own language learning toolbox Posted by Lorien on Jan 14, 2013 in Archived Posts
For most of us, learning a foreign or second language is an exciting concept. We picture ourselves as more culturally aware and enriched, able to better communicate with our global family. At the same time, it’s an intimidating prospect and a major commitment of time and effort. It’s attainable though, and we’re going to help you do it. After all, we LOVE languages – that’s why we give you so many free language resources to help you learn! A great first step is preparing your very own custom language learning toolbox.
With experience, we develop our own methods that help us learn. While it does help to start off knowing what typically works based on other people’s experience and research, finding out your own preferences is crucial. For language learning, some people like to write down catalogs of new words, while others look for partners to converse with, or immerse themselves in reading and guessing the meaning of new words from context.
These different approaches are techniques (or tools) called language-learning strategies. As learners, we develop them based on our preferences, leaning styles, learning objectives, and all sorts of constraints, such as availability of time, place of learning, and access to learning resources. Your success will depend to a large extent on how aware you are of your own learning preferences, which allows you to tailor your own individualized set of strategies. The research claims that your strategies should match the type of tasks you pursue and that you should use your strategies consciously in an orchestrated fashion while learning vocabulary and grammar, developing your listening and speaking, as well as reading and writing skills.
So what ARE your learning preferences? Do you prefer to study alone, or with others? Do you like the immersion method, or does that approach feel overwhelming? The only “right” way to learn a language is the way that works best for you. If you take a moment to ask yourself what way that is from the start, you will be more successful every step of the way.
 Ellis, R., The Study of Second Language Acquisition, (Oxford University Press, 1994).
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