Learning a foreign language is an enrichingundertaking. To make the most of your experience, you may need to develop somespecialized strategies. Here are some principles to keep in mind.

  1. Language is more than a set of grammar rules.Although structural accuracy is an important component of communication, youmust also learn how to communicate in a manner that is appropriate to thesituation. Likewise, in addition to building a large vocabulary, you will alsoneed to learn ways of paraphrasing so that you will be able to communicateeffectively when you don’t know an expression or it has slipped your mind. Bodylanguage and gestures are also important communicative strategies.

  2. Active language use is far more important thantalking about language. The ability to recite the rules of English grammar doesnot guarantee that you will actually be able to communicate in the language.Spend your time communicating in the language, creating messages, obtaininginformation, listening for details and so on.

  3. Don’t be afraid of making errors. Errors are anatural part of the language learning process and no one can avoid them. Do notlet fear of making an error prevent you from communicating. Even if yourlanguage ability is not perfect, your message may be understood. Of course,accurate use of language is an appropriate goal of language study.

  4. Language learning is a long-time process. Thereforeyou must have realistic expectations of your performance after one semester,one year, or several years of language learning. Advanced proficiency is oftenbest achieved after long period of practice and residence in a country wherethe target language is spoken.

  5. Be an active language learner. Study models, lookfor patterns, and make informed guesses, study idioms. If you do not entirelyunderstand a passage, do not ask for a translation immediately. Make use of thelanguage you already know or words that may be related to other words you know.Although language learning can be hard work, your efforts will be rewarded witha deeper understanding of yourself and the global village of which you are acitizen.


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