8 Tips to Learn a Foreign Language in College
BY LAURA MCKINNEY
It is never too late to learn a new language, and while in college, it is the perfect time to do so. Thanks to the Internet and a variety of language-learning websites, you don’t even have to take any special classes in college or spend extra money to learn a new language. Not only is learning a second language going to make you well-rounded, it can also help to open doors when you are looking for employment. If you are considering learning a foreign language while you are in college, here are a few tips that will help.
- Choose the Right Language – Sure, learning Farsi may seem like fun, but is it really going to do you any good in the long run? Choose a language that is in-demand. For instance, there is a huge demand for those who can speak Arabic for government contracting positions. Chinese and Indian are also both languages that are in high-demand at the moment.
- Do More than Necessary – If you are taking an actual foreign language class in college, go well above and beyond what is expected of you. Obviously, there are going to be minimum requirements to pass the course. Take your studies to the next level. Don’t just make the minimum requirements, or take the lowest course level just to make it easier.
- Watch Your Grammar – No one really enjoys learning about grammar, but when learning a new language, it is important to know how it works. You will have a much better understanding of the language if you take the time to study the grammar, and compare it to English grammar. This is going to make speaking a foreign language much easier in the long run.
- Travel a Lot – The more you travel, the better your chances are of getting chances to speak any new languages that you’ve learned. Don’t forget to learn about local slang as well, because it can serve you well in some areas. For instance, you may be looking for directions in the Dominican Republic. By knowing some Dominican slang words and phrases, it will be easier to talk to locals.
- Read a Lot – The more you read in a foreign language, the more you are going to understand it. When you are reading in a foreign language, look at the big picture and not each word. Look at the context, and understanding that context. When you are just trying to learn new words, you are not actually learning how to use those new words. When you are reading them, you are understanding them better.
- Write a Lot – Writing in a foreign language can be a bit of a struggle, especially in the beginning. It takes a lot of practice to be able to do this. But, the more you practice, the easier it will come to you, so keep practicing. Write in the language you are learning at every opportunity, and then have someone who does speak that language review your writing and make suggestions, while explaining why they are making suggestions.
- Speak with Natives – Engaging in conversation with someone who speaks a foreign language is one of the best ways to pick it up. Just one hour of conversation with natives is better than weeks of study at school. Be prepared with lots of questions to ask, and be prepared to have eyes rolled at you a lot while you are still learning. After a while, you will be speaking their language fluently with them.
- Create Your Own Classes – Not everyone does well in a classroom setting. Everyone learns differently, and at a different pace. If you are learning a foreign language on your own, your classroom can be any place you choose. Look at how you learn the best, and how you like to learn, and then find the best place to sit down and take online classes, practice, etc.
Lorraine McKinney is an academic tutor and elearning specialist.