My name is Martyna, I come from Poland and I’m an intern at BLC. I’ve been learning English since I was in primary school and I’ve always enjoyed it – that’s why when the time came for me to choose the university degree I knew it would be within the field of languages. I’ve graduated in English Studies and have also studied French, so I know how difficult it can get sometimes – especially when you’ve reached a certain level of proficiency and feel like you’ve stopped progressing.
Knowing how to go about learning a language can be crucial if you want to see a steady progress. That’s why I’ve prepared some tips that will hopefully help you figure out what works best for you. I’m going to write a series of blog posts with my advice on the matter and my own experiences – let’s start with the most important factor and that is regularity.
I think that the most common mistake for language learners is that once they decide to take up a new language, they have a lot of motivation and start doing as much as they can – buying lots of new books and other materials, spending hours doing exercises, learning long lists of vocabulary, etc. Yet the motivation fades after a while and they feel discouraged and disappointed. A good way of avoiding such situations is to set the time for language practice at a reasonable level and do it regularly – just 15 minutes a day and you will see steady progress.
So what can you do in those 15 minutes?
Use mobile apps! There truly is an app for everything, so you are sure to find one that suits your particular interests whether you’re up for vocabulary practice, grammar exercises or a language quiz. And you probably have your phone on you most of the time anyway, so why not use it to advance your language skills? Take a look at my blog posts here and here to see my favourites.
Listen!, This is something you can do no matter where you are: at home, on public transport, in a car stuck in a traffic jam or when going for a walk with your dog, and you’ll be surprised how beneficial it can be! Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything, the more you listen the more familiar you will become with new vocabulary and structures.
Read! And now you probably think reading will take much more than 15 minutes? Of course it can, but doesn’t have to. You don’t have to start with lengthy books – instead, you can read a short article about something that you find interesting. And while you do that, don’t forget to…
Look for new words! Expanding your vocabulary in a foreign language is probably one of the most demanding tasks for you as a learner. If so, forget about long lists of words that you have to learn by heart. Instead, find one new word a day and jot it down in your notebook (or even better – a flashcard) together with an example sentence – this is very important, as if you want to make sure you know how to use the word, you have to learn it in context. Then, you can just revise the new vocabulary by reading your sentences regularly and you can be sure you’ll learn more than when studying wordlists.
Obviously it takes time before your brain gets used to a new habit so be patient and don’t get discouraged if you skip your practice from time to time – a bad day can happen to everyone. Just make sure you go back to your regular practice after all and you can be sure it won’t take long before you see the progress!
Martyna Jenkner | BLC Intern 2018
For a more intensive approach, don’t forget BLC offers full-time courses throughout the year, as well as regular evening classes for local residents in Bristol. Contact us now to find out more.