Learning a new language is fast becoming one of the top skills that employers look for when recruiting new employees. The world is fast becoming increasingly globalised and more companies than ever are doing business in multiple countries around the world, but they can’t do it without hiring cultured and linguistically adept people. Have you ever wanted to be one of those people you see in the airport travelling to foreign countries “on business” all the time? Then read on for our top ten tips for learning a new language.
10. Peruse The Internet In The Language You Would Like To Learn
Given that we are in the twenty-first century, the odds are that you’re on the internet a lot. It helps to utilise your web browsing time as learning time as well. Google Chrome has a brilliant tool which converts parts of your webpage into the language that you would like to learn (Google: Language Immersion Extension Chrome to learn more about it). For even more language practice, try reading news sites in the language that you are trying to learn.
9. Convert Your Home Gadgets to The Language That You Are Seeking to Learn
Asides from your internet browser, try converting the everyday objects that you come into contact with into the language that you would like to learn. For a few hours a day set the language on your phone and tablet to your chosen language, try sticking post-it notes on everyday objects with its name in the chosen language. These tactics could help cement some more foreign words into your vocabulary.
8. Use A Flashcard App, Like Quizlet or Ankiapp
With apps like Quizlet and AnkiApp, you can create your own bespoke flashcards with specific sounds and colours to help make the knowledge more memorable. Flashcards are a useful learning tactic as they work through a process of repetition, the more you go through your flashcards, the more likely you are to learn new words!
7. Download a Language App Like Duolingo
Ok, we all know that DuoLingo is a tried and tested method, but the app has stood the test of time for a good reason… It actually works! The app has 120 million users worldwide for nineteen common languages! As long as you use it fairly regularly, you are definitely likely to learn new words.
6. Download a Free Online Language Book
Nowadays there are dozens of free online resources, you just need to know where to look for them, check out Open Culture’s treasure chest of online resources. Or better still, drop B&20 British School an email with your language needs for specific and mixed medium language resources.
5. Have A Movie Night!
We really don’t need another excuse for a movie night, but in case you would like another one, have you thought about watching as many movies in your chosen language? Immersive language techniques such as these are scientifically proven to help improve language skills. Put a foreign movie on, add the subtitles and learn as you listen! When you begin to feel more confident in your language skills, try watching the movie again without the subtitles.
4. Write Down Everything You Hear In A Foreign Language
This is an odd one, but have you ever tried copying out everything you hear in the language you are trying to learn? It’s a sure fire way to test your language skills and to cement any new words that you are trying to remember. We learn more effectively when we write things down, one of the most effective ways to learn a new language—especially when you don’t have anyone else to practice with—is simply through dictation. While listening to language lessons, write down everything you hear. This will train your ear for accents and such but also, most importantly, force yourself to pay attention.
3. Make Learning Fun!
Similarly to watching a movie in a foreign language, have you ever tried playing a game in a different language? Immersing yourself in pop culture is a particularly effective way of doing this. For example peruse Instagram for memes in your desired language, listen to podcasts in different languages or learn by listening to music videos. My favorite way of learning through games is demonstrated within this YouTube video, where phrases are learnt under the guise of a drinking game!
2. Make A Language Friend
Check out Gumtree and other affiliated websites for potential penfriends. Application is one of the best ways to learn a new language, try and speak to a native speaker for at least an hour a day, apps such as WeSpeke and Verbling aim to pair you up with a native English speaker for free conversations.
1. Don’t Worry About The Rules Too Much… Initially…
My students often raise concerns regarding knowing the correct verbs and tenses and sentence formation. Good grammar definitely helps, especially if you plan to fluently read and write in the language, however, this doesn’t mean that you need to spend all of your time reading over English Language textbooks. Hark back to when you first learned grammar in your native tongue, you picked this up through repetition, and practice, right? So there’s no reason why the second or third language in your arsenal should be any different!
What is IELTS?
IELTS stands for the International English Language Testing System. It is by far the most popular English language test, hence why a number of higher education institutions will ask that you complete the test. In under three hours, the IELTS test assesses the full range of your English skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing.
There are two IELTS tests available – IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training. The test you choose should be based on what it is you want to do.
IELTS Academic – measures whether your level of English language proficiency is suitable for an academic environment. It reflects aspects of academic language and evaluates whether you’re ready to begin training or studying.
IELTS General Training – measures English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context. The tasks and tests reflect both workplace and social situations.
If you are taking the IELTS test to support a UK visa application to work, live or study in the UK, you may need to take the IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Academic or General Training or the IELTS for Life Skills test.
Given that there are three versions of IELTS with different purposes and content, make sure you personalise your exam training depending on which type of IELTS you need to complete in order to maximise your chances of success.
Prepare for the IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic
It’s advisable to be savvy when preparing for the IELTS test. Think about your current language level and what score you would like to achieve and then prepare accordingly. Also, be sure to factor in how much time you have prior to your exam date so that you can manage your time appropriately.
According to a number of online sources, if your English level is intermediate, then you will need around three months to prepare for the test. However, if your language is at a beginner’s level, then you will need around six months of preparation.
The reading section – For this section, you will be given one hour to read the texts and answer 40 questions. The texts used for the IELTS General Training are taken from advertisements, books, magazines and newspapers. The texts for IELTS Academiccan come with diagrams, graphs or illustrations. Do not lose too much time on one particular question. Read as many similar texts as possible for your preparation, making sure that you learn to scan and skim to grasp the information from the texts as fast as possible. The most important thing here is to learn to read a text critically and grasp information from it as fast as possible.
The writing section – You will have one hour to complete two tasks. For the IELTS General Training test, you will be asked to write a letter of 150 words in a personal or formal style and to write an essay. The IELTS Academicversion includes the explanation of a graph, table, chart or diagram (150 words) as well as an essay of 250 words. Learn to recognise how long 150 and 250 words look like in your handwriting. In order to prepare for this section, try writing clear paragraphs that contain one main idea, also get used to reserving five minutes for proofreading your text after you finish.
The listening section – The listening section lasts 30 minutes, it includes four passages and a total of 40 questions. Do not feel discouraged if you don’t understand some of the words. Not everything might be relevant for answering the questions. In order to prepare for this section, try listening to podcasts and making notes about the key topics at the same time, it also helps if you can have regular conversations with native English speakers
The speaking section – This test is typically conducted on a different day from the other sections. The test is conducted as a face-to-face interview and you will talk about daily familiar topics. Train yourself to relax and speak fluently. Here is a really good list of all the topics that may be covered within the speaking section. A good tip for preparing for this section is to ask English-speakers around you to talk in English with you. You can also record yourself talking and observe your progress in time. The key is to speak the language as much as possible.
Here are a few other top tips to keep in mind when preparing for the IELTS test:
Free training: In many countries, if you register for an IELTS test through the online British Council registration system, you can get 30 more hours of free training.
Immerse yourself: Try and cram in some practice time wherever possible. Mix your English training in your daily life with fun activities. Listen to the BBC, watch English TV and radio channels, play board games with native English speakers, read the online press and much more.
Invest in an English tutor: If you are not the self-taught type or if you feel you need a more guided learning programme, send B&20 British School an email to register your interest for a pre-IELTS English Training session.
But most importantly, don’t be nervous! Stay calm, speak as fluently as possible and most of all, try your best!