STUDY HINTS FOR LEARNING A SECOND LANGUAGE|
We want you to learn your modern language as efficiently and as thoroughly as possible. Learning a second language is not difficult. It is easy if you go about it the right way. But you must be willing to do some steady work for a few minutes each day. We offer the following study hints to help you make this work easy and fun.
A language is a set of habits. Our first language is our set of habits which we acquired and mastered at about the age of five or six. We had to listen to other people ever since our birth and, in order to communicate, we copied or imitated what the people around us said. You need to do the same with this second language.
1. YOU MUST LEARN TO LISTEN AND IMITATE.
We are like children at this stage of the game. In fact, it's worse, since our own language habits keep getting in the way.
2. YOU MUST MEMORIZE.
To learn this set of new habits, you must practice, practice, practice, until all the sets of new habits become automatic responses. It's as simple, and as hard, as that.
3. STUDY OUT LOUD.
You double your efficiency when you add auditory memory to visual memory. You quadruple your efficiency when you add motor memory (physical reinforcement).
4. DIVIDE YOUR MATERIALS INTO SMALL UNITS FOR MEMORIZATION. THEN STRING THEM TOGETHER.
Divide your materials into small units of 15 minutes of study time. Do some other work. Then go back to another 15 minutes of language study. Do your language study just before going to bed. When you are dressing in the morning, try to remember and to repeat what you learned the night before. You will be surprised at the results.
5. MAKE FULL USE OF YOUR CLASS HOUR.
Students are usually classified as dumb or smart in a language class by the way they make use of their class time. The smart ones load 50 minutes of practice into each class period. When someone is reciting, they are doing it silently right along with him.
6. YOU CAN NOT CRAM FOR A FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASS.
Foreign language study is steady day-by-day work. You cannot cram for a language test. You do not learn habits and skills that way. Language learning is a cumulative process; you build on top of what you did the day before.
7. YOU NEED TO THINK.
Because you are more mature than when you were a child learning your own language, you have the advantage of being able to analyze the materials you are memorizing. You will discover, for example, the way your second language changes endings. You will start making your own observations and rules accordingly. This can speed up your learning process considerably. But the only use for this "structural analysis" is to help you to imitate more successfully.
8. REPEATED READING IS NECESSARY. GUESS INTELLIGENTLY WHEN YOU ARE READING THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE.
If you are ever going to read quickly and for content, figure out what a word must mean because of the context in which it is used. If you are ever going to remember the meaning of words, you will obviously have to read them more than once. Let's suppose that you have six pages to read. On each page, there are ten words which you do not know. If you read the six pages once and look up each of the 60 words, you most likely will not remember more than ten of them. Instead of that, look up only 30 and make intelligent guesses at the remaining 30. With the time you have saved, reread the six pages at least two more times, preferably with intervals of several hours. This way you may be able to remember as many as 25 of the 30 words you looked up and you will have a pretty good idea of the meanings of the 30 you did not look up.
9. NEVER LOOK UP A WORD IN THE DICTIONARY OR GLOSSARY UNTIL YOU HAVE READ THE CONTEXT IN WHICH IT APPEARS.
Assume that you have read through a paragraph before getting lost. Now go back and read along until you come to the first word which you can't seem to guess. Underline it. Look it up. Put a pencil dot in the margin to show that you have looked it up once. Reread the phrase in which the word occurs and try to fix its meaning. Go through the paragraph in this way and tackle the other paragraphs in the same manner until you have read half the assignment. Take a break. Reread the pages you have just done. Then tackle the second half of the assignment. Finish up with a rereading of the total assignment.
10. DO NOT WASTE TIME ON PASSAGES YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND.
If you do not understand a passage after rereading it a few times, ask your instructor for help.