This is a follow-up post to How to Learn a Very Foreign Language by Jessica Tiare Bowen, one of our contributors.
A few months ago, I made an early New Year’s Resolution:
This is the year I will become bilingual.
But much like any resolution, seeing it written on paper is so much easier than having that dream come to fruition. However, I pride myself on not being a quitter, and therefore have accumulated a bag full of tricks I’m implementing to make this bilingual thing happen in 2012.
These are the tried-and-true tips and tricks that I’m using so that I can update my Facebook status to: Languages Spoken–English and Bosnian.
1.) Sign Up For A Class. I was initially trying a do-it-yourself approach to learning Bosnian, when I quickly realized that my progress wasn’t where it should be. Call it lack of structure, but I thrive in an environment that holds me accountable for my progress. With a language as uncommon as Bosnian, it was a little tricky finding a class, but I finally came across the International Bosnian Language Course that not only offers affordable classes with flexible scheduling, but they can all be done from the comfort and convenience of my own home. That’s right: all you need is a computer and Skype, and you are set to learn.
2.) Flashcards. A bit antiquated, perhaps, but as a teacher myself, I know that the old-fashion drill-and-kill works like a charm. These are great for the person-on-the-go, because they can be pulled out anytime, anywhere. Some of my best studying gets done as I’m wedged between a gaggle of people on the subway during rush hour, but the point is, it gets done.
3.) Immerse Yourself in the Culture. Learning a language shouldn’t be all work, no play. In fact, some of my best experiences learning Bosnian have been social experiences: going to see a Bosnian film, trying a new Bosnian food, reading a Bosnian book…you get the idea. There are many great ways to connect with people of the language you are learning through websites like Meetup.com, or an international pen-pal site, such as GlobalPenFriends.com.
4.) Write Study Time In Your Calendar. I’m the type of person that is constantly overbooking myself for everything. That being said, when I’m having a particularly hectic week, it’s easy for me to push the studying aside until “next week”. Unfortunately, that already puts me a week behind, and then next week gets busy too…and low and behold, I still can’t speak Bosnian. Therefore, I’ve been carving out chunks of study time and writing them onto my calendar as appointments. Much like a doctors appointment or a happy hour gathering with friends, once it’s on the calendar, I make every effort not to reschedule.
5.) Reward Yourself. The teacher in me knows that students succeed best when there is a reward for all their hard effort. For 1st graders, this reward can take form as a gold star sticker, a Jolly Rancher, or a positive letter home to Mom. For grown-ups, find what works for you best (a massage? dinner and dessert at your favorite restaurant? a new outfit?) If you meet your language goal for the month (learning 50 new words, conjugating verbs properly, or finally saying a sentence that makes sense), then treat yourself to something that makes you happy, and will in turn further that motivation for next month.
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