Here’s 10 tips from Hungarian polyglot Kató Lomb on what you should to do when learning a new language:
1. Dedicate time every day to language exercises – if you’re short on time, limit yourself to at least a 10-minute monologue. The early hours are the most valuable: early birds catch the vocabulary.
2. If your enthusiasm for learning dwindles too quickly, don’t force anything, but also don’t stop. Learn in a slightly different way, for instance, instead of reading, listen to the radio; instead of writing essays, browse the dictionary, etc.
3. Never learn isolated speech units – get to know words and grammatical elements mainly in context.
4. Write sentences in the margins of books and use them as “ready-made elements” in your conversations.
5. Even an exhausted mind finds moments of rest and relaxation in quick, improvised translations made for personal pleasure, like the translations of passing billboards, numbers on doors, overheard conversations, etc.
6. Remember only what the teacher has corrected. Don’t read the texts you’ve written if they haven’t been checked and corrected to avoid errors becoming ingrained in your mind. If you’re learning on your own, the fragments you memorize should be short enough that the possibility of making a mistake is eliminated.
7. Always memorize idiomatic expressions in the first person singular. For example: “I am only pulling your leg” or “a piece of cake”. You can also do it like this: “Il m’a posé un lapin” (which literally translates to “He set a rabbit on me.” However, idiomatically, it means “He stood me up” or “He didn’t show up for our meeting/appointment.”).
8. A foreign language is a fortress. It’s worth besieging it from all sides, using newspapers, radio, original films, technical or scientific texts, textbooks, and visits to neighbors.
9. Don’t let the fear of making mistakes stop you from speaking. So, don’t be shy to ask your conversation partner to correct you. Above all, don’t get upset if he or she starts to do so – it’s unlikely anyway.
10. Maintain a strong belief that you’re a language genius. If facts point to the contrary, blame the unbearable language you’re trying to tame, the dictionaries, the textbook, but never yourself.
Source: Kató Lomb, Polyglot. How I learn languages
Article originally published at sekretypoliglotow.pl in Polish. You can find it here.