Language learning when busy

Hello, everyone! This post is not about any language in specific but about learning languages in general. A lot of us have a lot to do in our daily lives! Work, school, family, friends… what about study time? Today, I’d like to talk about making a study schedule that fits in your schedule and, most importantly, works for you.

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Study Tips- Listening

 

Listening practice is vital if you want to communicate with other speakers of whatever language you’re trying to learn. What good is being able to talk to someone if you can’t understand what they’re saying in return? However, getting in good listening practice can be difficult. Not everyone can take language classes. And what if you don’t live in an area with a population that speaks your target language? Never fear! Today, I’ll go over a few ways you can get some listening practice in.

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Learning multiple languages at once

 

When I first started this blog, I was studying Korean, Mandarin, and Japanese all at the same time. It gradually turned into more of a Korean-only blog, but I have been sort of maintaining my basic-level Mandarin, and I have recently started getting back into studying Japanese (let’s see how long it lasts!). So, how do I do it? How does one successfully study multiple languages at once? Learning more than one language at the same time poses some unique issues outside of those that one would face learning just one. Today, I’ll touch on what I think, based on my own experience, are some of the most important things to remember and do to learn more than one language at a time. Remember, this is all just based on my own experience; others might have different takes, but this is mine~

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Don’t get discouraged when faced with long texts!

Getting into reading extensively in another language can be hard. Making that leap from level-controlled learner-centered material to materials made for native speakers can especially be hard because the grammar and vocabulary is so much more varied. It’s easy to get a bit down when faced with such a text. I definitely remember feeling that way, myself. I would be handed long articles to read in my third-level Korean class, and I remember thinking “Oh god, this will take me forever to read!” The feeling would be compounded when words I didn’t know kept cropping up, so I had to keep stopping and check the dictionary…

But! If you keep at it, it definitely gets better! One of the things that I found helped me was reading just for the sake of reading. Start small, maybe sort paragraphs of writing or news articles. Just read them straight through without grabbing the dictionary, no matter how many words you don’t know (bonus points if you read it out loud!). I find that a lot of people put too much pressure on themselves to understand passages the very first time they read, which is why I recommend making your first read-through a zero-pressure read. Just get used to looking at the words and hearing them in your head. Then, try reading it through again, this time trying to grab some of the meaning. You can break out the dictionary if you want, but like I said in my reading tips post, resist the urge to look up every single word, instead focusing on the ones that seem most important.

If you challenge yourself to read like this a few times a week, you’ll feel more comfortable reading longer and longer texts. Even if you can’t totally understand them, you won’t get that immediate feeling of dread just from seeing the length of the passage.

Keep at it! Happy studying~

When your Korean writing sounds like English

Hello and Happy New Year, everyone! I’d like to address a problem that a lot of people probably have when they start out writing in a new language. That problem is one’s writing sounding like words of the new language shoved into the grammar of their native language.

Stop thinking in English!

If your writing turns out sounding like you’re putting English words into Korean grammar, that’s probably because you’re still thinking in English and trying to translate it into Korean instead of just naturally thinking and writing in Korean. It’s a skill that takes time and practice—the most your study Korean, the more automatic your usage of it becomes until you don’t even need to think about it anymore. Of course, once you hit this stage, your writing won’t automatically be perfect. However, it will sound a lot more fluid.

Figurative language often doesn’t translate well…

Another problem could be trying to use English figurative speech, flow, or phrasing in Korean. This is a problem I suffer from still, and the only way to really fix this is a lot of native input. For example, when I would write long journals (I need to get back on that) and show them to my boyfriend (native Korean speaker) to check, he would get confused by some of my sentences. They were grammatically correct, but he was still confused by the feeling they were meant to convey or whatever because I was unconsciously trying to incorporate the literary-style English I’m familiar with into my Korean writing, or because I would write in a stream-of-thought way that, while fluid in English, was just awkward in Korean. I’ve gotten better at avoiding these errors, but my mind still unconsciously wants me to write that way sometimes!

How can I check my writing?

If you’re particularly having this problem with writing, I suggest making a Lang-8 account and posting your writing on there. Native speakers can correct it for you, and maybe you’ll start to see patterns in which errors you make most commonly.

Happy studying~

Study organization- notebooks

I love stationery of all kinds, especially notebooks. And when you’re planning on studying, of course you need notebooks for taking notes and practicing! In this post, I’ll talk a little about my notebooks.

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Tips for practicing grammar

Studying grammar can be tricky. It’s different from vocab in that once you’ve memorized a word and know the meaning, you can use it and recognize it as needed. However, grammar can’t really be properly learned in isolation like individual words can be (though vocab is also more easily learned in context). Grammar is very much use it or lose it.

To start, if you have a textbook or workbook that you use to learn grammar initially, make sure you do all the exercises in the book to practice forming it. But once you’re done with the workbook, what then? Making flashcards with the grammatical form on one side and what it means and when it is used on the other side could be helpful. When you review a card, write down a few practice sentences—maybe three to give sentence—using that form. It would be even better practice if you can try to write a short paragraph using the form as much as you can.

If you don’t have a native speaker of the language nearby to help you check, Lang-8 can be a great site to have your work checked. This is especially important when you get into more advanced and less commonly used grammatical forms. By using the grammatical form and getting feedback on your usage of it, that structure gets reinforced in your mind and the process of using it becomes more and more automatic over time.

I hope this helps! Happy studying~

Study Tips- Vocab

So you’re learning all this great, useful grammar, you’re feeling good about it, you go to chat with a language exchange partner or write a journal about your day and… you realize that you need to look up so many words to express what you want to say. Or, you’re trying to read an article online or a book and realize that there are so many words you don’t know that you’re spending more time with the dictionary than with what you’re actually reading!

If this sounds like you, you have a vocab problem, and I was definitely in that same spot before. I’ve personally found grammar easier to remember than vocabulary, especially once you start getting into advanced vocab that isn’t used often in day-to-day conversation. Here are some ways to boost your vocabulary:

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Making language exchange work

The concept of language exchange is great. The idea of practicing with a native speaker sounds great! You can help each other and maybe even build a friendship. However, it’s very easy for things to go a bit pair-shaped with language exchange if you do not monitor it carefully!

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