‘Back to school’ can be an especially challenging time for language students: the subject and the medium by which it is learned are one and the same! To pick up where you left off, make sure you keep your motivation high, engage in some targeted review and come to class (whether it be virtual or traditional) fully prepared.Try these helpful tips and ensure a successful start to the semester!
Make a plan.
Self-efficacy, or the ability to take a task and break it down into manageable pieces, can have a major impact on success in language learning. Before someone hands you a syllabus, think about your goals for the year, how you plan to achieve them, and what you are willing to commit to in order to meet them. Decide what YOU want to learn, then make a plan and put it into action. For more ideas, check out our blog entry on How to build a language learning plan.
Join a club.
Languages are meant to be used for communication and it can be pretty hard to get your textbook to talk back. So, enquire at your school to see if there’s a language club you can join (PS. If there isn’t, you can always start one!). Alternatively, check your town or local county for language enthusiast groups or simply google online forums. No matter where you end up, putting yourself in the company of individuals who can help energize and support your learning efforts will be a winning move.
Do your homework.
Were you assigned some review over the summer? Get to it and make sure you spend a few hours reading and listening to your language to activate all of those dormant vocabulary stores. Next, find out what your teacher has planned for you and do some early research to get a head start on the semester. Will you be studying a unit on Nearealismo in Intermediate Italian? Read an article or two to get you excited about the topic or rent a film and see Anna Magnani in action. Enhancing your familiarity with new vocabulary can make a big difference in word acquisition rates.
You’ll be learning heaps of new words with every language class you attend. What tools will you need to be successful? Make sure you are equipped with the basics (think dictionaries and flashcard makers). You may also want to try a few gamified apps and tools which serve authentic content to help you learn REAL language from subjects you care about. Give Lingua.ly a try and throw a few more apps in the mix to build yourself a diverse ecosystem of complementary tools that will help you make the most of your learning when the pace picks up.
Any subject can become tedious if we’re not inspired by it. Think about why you chose to study a second language in the first place and round up some material to help you get enthusiastic about the year. Maybe it’s a new album, a film, a dance class or a book about travel– whatever you try, take a second every day to remind yourself that language learning is fun!
Are you headed back to a US college or university and passionate about languages? The Student Language Exchange operates language exchange groups in over 20 universities with its users relying on online texts and free platforms like Lingua.ly to support informal tutoring sessions for less commonly taught languages. Sign up to start a new chapter on your campus– promote linguistic and cultural diversity and make new friends at the same time. Hurry, applications are due by September 16!