11 Tips for People Leaning a Foreign Language on Their Own

Instagram followings can get you closer to native speakers faster than a grammar book.

Makeup expression cards

Everyone knows about flashcards - this method is the most popular in the process of language learning. You cut out squares of cardboard and write the word on one side and the other's translation.


Lexemes begin to be remembered even in making cards but to heighten the effect, of course, you also need to teach them, alternating directions and stages consciously. But not everyone goes from words to phrases. Proverbs, fixed expressions, speech cliches, colloquial expressions - write on the cards, everything that seems relevant, and memorize according to the same principle as words.

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By repeating the card repeatedly, you drive the material into long-term memory using the mechanism of active-active memorization of material: how to achieve better result memorization. And when it comes to living communication, you will not need to link words into a suitable phrase - the phrase will fly off the tongue by itself.

Mix words

“ Language is a creative process,” said Chris Lonsdale, a New Zealand psychologist, linguist, and educator, in his TEDx talk. Start small: makeup phrases. You can create 1,000 different combinations if you know 10 nouns, 10 verbs, and 10 adjectives. You can work according to the anagram principle when you must make up as many words as you can from a set of letters.

Define a set of words that will include different parts of speech and write down on a piece of paper all possible phrases that come to your mind. After that, filter out those that are not used in live speech.

You can check whether this or that combination exists in nature using dictionaries. For example, the Longman Dictionary leads to a Collocations column, which records the most frequently used language combinations. This practice will help develop the spoken language and reinforce familiar elements.

Use recipes

It's not for nothing that we even begin to learn our native language from the words. No, we do not urge you to sew crochet hooks and sticks but write a couple of sheets with the same word - perhaps. Doing this is especially beneficial if the writing of the language you are learning is not based on the Latin alphabet but a hieroglyphics or alphabet unfamiliar to your eye.

This method works at the level of mechanical linguistic EXPERIMENT: STUDYING THE PROCESS OF REMEMBERINGmemory and helps to remember the memorized word by reproducing it on paper easily. And the visual memory is also connected to the mechanical memory, and it turns out a cool tandem, with which it will be difficult to forget what has been written a hundred times.

Follow the media on Instagram.

And procrastinate profitably. Locating native speakers of the language of interest on your favorite social network is easy if you use hashtags in the desired language and geolocation. It would help if you chose not those who post selfies that are not burdened with the meaning, but the guys who care about text content no less than about photo processing.

Subscribing to bloggers from the nation of the target language, you can not only enjoy the content but, while doing so, familiarize yourself with the colloquial vocabulary and get used to the new linguistic environment, just scrolling through the feed.

Here are some examples of English-language accounts for every taste and color:

  • Passion Passport is an account with hundreds of inspiring photos from all over the world, accompanied by equally inspiring stories from their authors.
  • Alex Zouaghi is a London-based blogger who lovingly talks about his beloved city, also in two languages ​​(for those who learn French, note).
  • A Juniper fox account, whose owner describes life's peculiarities with wild animals and their relationships with each other.
  • Sharmili is a beauty blogger from New York with detailed analyzes and texts on the topic of cosmetics.
  • Humans of New York is an interesting project that tells the stories of people living in New York.

Use visual memory

Standard columns of words, their meanings, and pronunciations help to fix information visually. Create a table of tokens with translation and transcription on a specific topic and memorize them first in the order in which they were written out. Then swap and alternate the columns.

  • remove the column with the translation and restore the values ​​in spelling and pronunciation;
  • leave only the transcription and try to remember the word itself and the Russian-language equivalent from it;
  • Shuffle each column's lines and find the corresponding translation by connecting the word with the desired meaning with straight lines.

Hand on paper is the quickest and most efficient way to accomplish this. Such a scheme of work connects visual perception, and the switching of columns and lines facilitates the flow of information from short-term to visual long-term memory, which has greater capacity and accuracy, according to visual memory Igor Utochkin, Candidate of Sciences in Psychology, Head of the Laboratory for Cognitive Research, National Research University Higher School of Economics.

Image source: Reproduction/Internet

If a paper is outdated for you, you can use simple tables in Word or Excel. Although you still have to print - it will be easier to work with words and memorizing columns.

Glue stickers

Another fairly common SCIENCE BEHIND VOCABULARYSTICKERSa method that should not be neglected - sticky notes with words. If you are starting to learn a language, sculpt stickers on everything that comes to hand. In this situation, write the name of the object you are gluing them to, not just any words. So, going to the outlet or mixer, you will see every time what it is called.

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If you are already familiar with all household items, write down the more complex lexemes that you need on the stickers. Pick a word of the day and leave a reminder of it on all surfaces you meet. Remembering it, change it to a new one.

Come up with language parallels and rhymes.

You don't have to try to rhyme a word with its immediate meaning - use associations. Simple rhymes for associations like "dog-leash" are easy to remember and do not give a chance to get confused. Have we already said that language is creativity?

If you know a foreign language and decide to learn another one, you can use this advantage. Find words with the same meaning in different linguospheres and draw parallels between them: sound and spelling. This works especially well if you learn languages ​​from the same linguistic family, be it Slavic or Romance.

See pictures to improve pronunciation.

Of course, ordinary pictures will not help you speak, but detailed illustrations of articulation features when pronouncing a particular sound will greatly facilitate learning. Each language has its own nuances of sound and features of the formulation of the speech apparatus. To get as close as possible to native speakers' pronunciation, study these pictures and put them into practice.

Change the language on your phone.

A great way to learn new words is to do it "out of despair. Your Phone Teach You a New Language?". Up until you are familiar with all the technical jargon you might run into, the annoyance will only occur once. And then, you look and start thinking in a new language.

Listen in the background.

That said, you don't even need to understand what you hear. Surround yourself with foreign language everywhere:  This will allow you to memorize intonation, speech tempo, and pronunciation patterns.

Learn from your mistakes

Starting to speak a new language, it is impossible to do without speech errors. There is nothing wrong with them, but they should not be ignored. If you made a reservation and discovered a mistake, fix it by repeating the sentence in the correct form.

Adapted and translated by The Cop Cart Staff

Sources: Life hacker