Last night at a language learners’ meeting some students — all in our first three years of Mandarin study — were asked to write down on big pieces of paper various techniques and strategies that we personally find helpful in different facets of language learning: Affective/Motivation, Social, Listening, Speaking, Reading & Writing, and Vocab & Grammar. It was interesting to see different personalities and different stages of language learning reflected in the suggestions. Some of them were pretty funny and revealing.
Here’s what we wrote down in the “Affective/Motivation” category:
- Work for a specific time period and take breaks.
- Don’t try to study when I’m tired.
- Celebrate language victories, large and small!
- Make a weekly schedule for studying in order to feel good about investing enough time.
- Go to bed.
- Change study location regularly.
- Use different locations for different types of study.
- Don’t allow yourself to have a pity party. Find someone who speaks less than you and feel better about yourself.
- Remember how it was when you first came.
- Morning quiet time and journaling.
Here’s from the “Social” category:
- Go slowly through neighbourhood.
- Do homework outside.
- Having a bike that often breaks down.
- Learn neighbours’ names.
- Plan to stop and chat on way to and from regular places.
- 1 on 1 time with friends.
- Do an activity with friends (badminton, baking) but prep yourself with vocab first.
- Class in neighbourhood.
- Buying fruit and veggies at market instead of supermarket.
- Learn (and translate yourself) a few songs (Chinese ones) and sing them at karaoke.
- Live with a Chinese roommate in a xiaoqu [neighbourhood] with no other foreigners.
- Adjust daily routine to create more social opportunities with the people around you.
A few gems from the other categories:
- Listen for the words you do understand and try to guess what’s being said… use what you do get to ask clarifying questions.
- mp3 brainwashing while biking/walking/busing
- DVDs, TV, CDs, stories, mp3s
- Sit in places where I can hear lots of people talking – try to figure out what they’re saying.
- Selective eavesdropping.
- Tape record someone and copy them.
- Go to a Chinese church.
- Read text out loud.
- Repeat out loud with extra strong emphasis [tones]
- Get used to and encourage correction.
- Laugh at yourself.
Good luck, fellow language students! 加油！