Effective ways of learning a foreign language right in your home!

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In recent years, with the pace of studying and working picking up tremendously, there is a decline in the number of literature students in Singapore.

This may imply a loss of creative culture in the country since literature is the inspiration behind the endeavour to explore human nature , and to understand life itself.

Regardless of the causes behind the diminishing number of enrollment in literature lessons, it is important that students recognise the importance of self-expression using the written word. At this point in time, it is hard to foresee if the passion in literature will be re-ignited but a weakening interest in the creative arts is apparent.

Moving along the same line of thought, it can be observed that there are also not many students taking up foreign language in their schools. Only one student in my class of fifteen raised her hand when I asked if any of them had taken up a foreign language in the school. Another one or two have indicated interest in this pursuit but has not enrolled themselves in these lessons.

Unlike literature studies, learning a foreign language is a longer journey, and it involves a longer investment since learning a new language is more sophisticated than literature in terms of its linguistic and grammatical syntax, as well as the fact that foreign language learners have to continuously expose themselves to the new language.

There are some who have advocated immersing oneself in the country to expedite learning. That is a feasible way (if affordability, accessibility and feasibility are not serious issues) but there are other ways to learn. Accessing online learning platforms, enrolling in an online course, having formal lessons in one’s country, as well as forming study groups are some great ways to learn a foreign language.

If you are someone who will like to learn in the comforts of your own hometown, here are some effective ways where you are able to do that.

Attend formal lessons: Now , some may argue that this is not necessary since the internet provides much learning content in almost every common foreign language. While this is true, what beginners of a foreign language should be looking for are structures.

Beginners should look for teachers who are able to give a structure to their learning.

This is something that is almost non-existent in an online platform, unless learners subscribe to online learning platforms such as LearningPod101.com. Of course, the lesson notes that you received from these lessons are also invaluable.

Purchase Textbooks that are used in formal language schools: It’s almost impossible to learn a foreign language without some textbooks to give one the foundations. Do visit your bookshop frequently to note any updates to the titles.

I am currently learning Japanese and one title I will recommend is “Mina No Nihongo” . It comes in two books (which constitutes one set of four ) with its own set of vocabulary lists, sentence structures, conversations in writing, and numerous practices and exercises in each chapter.

Leverage on mobile technology: With the rapid development of mobile technology, our mobile phone is currently much more than a communication device. It is also a learning device, specifically the learning of foreign language in this context.

There are tons of foreign language apps in Apple Play Store and I will personally recommend “”.

If you are interested in some interested features of the app, they are here. Have fun learning a foreign language!

Watch dramas and movies of that language: It’s important that we keep in constant contact with the foreign language that we are learning.

And one of the best ways is to watch programmes in that language, as what we learn in textbooks may not be the equivalent of what is spoken by the native speakers in their daily lives.

Once we have gained a certain level of proficiency, I suggest reading literature of that specific foreign language we are learning.

Learning content compilation: With the increasing amount of learning content, it’s inevitable that our learning content gets increasing complex and sophisticated. We are looking at everything from vocabulary to grammar to sentence expressions to commonly used phrases. I personally  form a list of vocabulary (which I find it to be the most important since we require a vast range of vocabulary words to form sentences, alongside verbs) and a verb list, and my valued textbooks as well as learning materials.

Putting in an effort to revise these list of vocabulary words and verbs regularly is very useful in learning the language. Writing short sentences and paragraphs are equally effective. This is especially so if you are crafting sentences around your daily living since by doing so, you are inadvertently using commonly used sentences.

To wrap it all up, I will say that it’s possible for almost everyone to learn a foreign language in their own homes. However, this should be complemented with external formal lessons since pronunciation will probably be an issue in any form of independent foreign language learning.

Have fun learning a foreign language! And do not forget to communicate with your foreign friends speaking the same language!

Patrick Tay is an English Language and Life Skills Training Specialist  who is based in Singapore. He has been teaching communication studies and international issues in polytechnics and writes regularly on various issues of interest in education, media, business and international affairs at patricktay.wordpress.com. He can be contacted at teachingwithart@gmail.com .


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