Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

August 27, 2010

How to be a good language student! 10 suggestions

My wonderful teacher workshop group

I have been teaching quite a few students over the summer and was interested to see how they each approached the process of language learning. All of them worked hard and made progress and were delightful to teach and work with but analysing their preparedness and study methods gave me some insights into what sort of things seem to work well.  

Carolina from Italy

 

 

Learning styles  

As teachers and learners we know that different people have different preferences and styles when it comes to studying.  I see, as a teacher, where I need to adapt my choice of material or style to suit different students. Things which work fantastically well with one student might fall completely flat with another.  We read much about learning styles and it is true that we learn differently but I feel it is also true that not all learning is necessarily fun and exciting and it is important to take the rough with the smooth. In terms of language in particular, a certain amount has to be repetitive and recycling, revisiting is very important. Regular practice is also important. Some tried and tested methods do work and it is a case of finding the most suitable way of utilising these. Whether pen and paper, iPhone or laptop is our preferred tool is unimportant as long as students get the results!  

Student behaviour  

Some students are methodical and very organised. They bring a book, stationery, dictionary etc with the to the lessons and they organise their work. Some arrange their book/folder according to the different topics (grammar, reading, vocabulary etc..) and sometimes even colour-code everything for ease of revision. They review the day’s work and come to the next lesson prepared with questions.  

Suzanna from Germany

Others prefer a more ‘learn by osmosis’ approach they like to absorb the language by being immersed in it through the lesson. They don’t record a great deal (perhaps anything they haven’t heard before) and react in a more emotional way with the language. They may not be so systematic in their learning but they like to extend their exposure to language and will be likely to watch TV or read a newspaper or magazine often bringing elements of this experience to the lesson.  

Many students have a half and half approach. The dangers of being only type one is that you may be restricting yourself to a narrow range of language and those taking the second path may be exposed to too much for it to be absorbed. However all approaches are legitimate and in the end it is a matter of ‘horses for courses’. However, whatever your learning style, I do think it is worth considering using some tried and tested methods to enhance your learning experience  

So, from my ‘straw poll’ over this summer, I have extracted 10 things which I observed that I feel all language learners could use to improve their study  

  1. Do make sure you have something to record new items of language (notebook, netbook etc)
  2. Don’t rely solely on your memory.
  3. Do make sure you have access to a dictionary (get one on your phone then you can access it wherever you are).
  4. Don’t miss the opportunity to pick up new words and check their meaning.
  5. Do go over the day’s lesson, make a note of anything you don’t understand ready to ask your teacher at the next lesson.
  6. Don’t  be afraid to ask your teacher to go over things or explain things again – it’s an opportunity to make sure everything is clear before moving on.
  7. Do watch TV in English if you have the chance. If you are in the UK it’s a good way to engage with the culture and make sure you are immersing yourself in the language – TV is an invaluable language resource.
  8. Don’t feel that you have to understand everything. Relax and enjoy the experience, if you can get a good overview of the conversation or TV programme that might be enough (then, as in No 6, ask your teacher the next lesson).
  9.  Do write a learner diary – a few lines after each day’s experience will not only give you a lovely record of your course, but it is also an interesting and personal way to make a record of your learning. This can be useful for language recycling and sharing with teachers and/or classmates.
  10. Do enjoy your learning experience – something you enjoy and are absorbed in will be both successful and valuable.

Thank you to all my students this year who gave me the chance to observe their learning and the opportunity to pass some of their ideas on to you.

For more on learning strategies you might like to look at the following posts.

Creating a teacher workshop

Business English – what is it you really need to learn?

An A to Z of effective language practice

How to keep motivated in language learning

Preparing for language exams

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18 Comments »

  1. Twitter Trackbacks…

    Trackback by Anonymous — August 27, 2010 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

  2. I really enjoyed the way you described the students and loved the tips…will give them to my students to inspire them! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Cecilia

    Comment by Cecilia Coelho — August 28, 2010 @ 2:27 am | Reply

    • Thank you Cecilia – I hope they will find them as useful as my students did! 🙂

      Comment by rliberni — August 28, 2010 @ 9:58 pm | Reply

  3. I with you on tip number eight for sure! It’s not important to understand every word. What’s important is listening and understanding the main points. For example, I’m learning Spanish and I watch a lot of television in Spanish. For me it’s ok not to understand everything, but rather the gist of what’s going on.

    Comment by Jessica Ojeda — September 1, 2010 @ 9:27 pm | Reply

    • Thanks you Jessica for your great comment. You are right, trying to understand everything will take too much time, be frustrating and take away the enjoyment. In my experience the best is to struggle through with the gist at first and eventually you will understand more and more – it almost happens by magic! You can make a note of some words or phrases for future reference but sometimes it’s just better to go for it!

      Comment by rliberni — September 1, 2010 @ 11:01 pm | Reply

  4. Your instructions given in your article “how to be a good language student! 10 suggestions” are definitely important for those who are interested in to learn English.
    I would like to send this article to my sons who lives in other countries. How can I do this? I am sure they will be interested in to be students of your important English course.
    Thanks very much for your reply.
    Sincerely.

    Comment by Raul Torres Suarez — October 20, 2010 @ 5:37 pm | Reply

    • Thank you Raul and it’s good to meet you here! I’m glad you liked the post. You can email a link to your sons so that they can bookmark the blog, use the rss or add it to their google reader (or whatever is most convenient for them). If this doesn’t work let me know and we’ll think about other options. I hope we can meet on GapChat again and keep posting your messages!

      Comment by rliberni — October 20, 2010 @ 11:05 pm | Reply

  5. […] Radical Language Blog – 10 tips for language learning. Rliberni gives some excellent “musts” that all should practice to be “a good language student”. […]

    Pingback by The 22nd ESL / EFL / ELL Blog Carnival | EFL Classroom 2.0 - Teacher Talk — April 3, 2011 @ 4:37 pm | Reply

  6. […] of the posts that I particularly enjoyed offers 10 tips on how to be a good language student. “Don’t feel you have to understand […]

    Pingback by College Campus » A New Edition of the English-Learning Carnival — April 6, 2011 @ 9:06 pm | Reply

  7. […] of the posts that I particularly enjoyed offers 10 tips on how to be a good language student. “Don’t feel you have to understand […]

    Pingback by Learning Solution – Online Education » Blog Archive » A New Edition of the English-Learning Carnival — April 6, 2011 @ 9:45 pm | Reply

  8. […] How to be a good language student! 10 suggestions […]

    Pingback by English language learning tips – my Top 10 posts « Rliberni's Blog – Radical language — May 20, 2011 @ 5:42 pm | Reply

  9. great suggestions!!!!

    Comment by miss:beauty — July 30, 2011 @ 3:40 am | Reply

    • Thank you for your comment. I hope that you will follow them to become a great language student too!

      Comment by rliberni — July 30, 2011 @ 8:53 am | Reply

  10. I love to learn english and improve my knowledge day by day.

    Comment by nalin samarajeewa — August 25, 2011 @ 2:37 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for your comment Nalin this is excellent and if you do this day by day you will ceratinly improve. I think the suggestions in this post will help you to organise your study so that your progress will be assured. 🙂

      Comment by rliberni — August 25, 2011 @ 3:28 pm | Reply

  11. […] How to be a good language student! 10 suggestions I have been teaching quite a few students over the summer and was interested to see how they each approached the process of language learning. All of them worked hard and made progress and were del… Source: rliberni.wordpress.com […]

    Pingback by How to be a good language student! 10 suggestions | The world of IELTS | Scoop.it — September 7, 2011 @ 6:48 pm | Reply

  12. […] How to be a good language student! 10 suggestions I have been teaching quite a few students over the summer and was interested to see how they each approached the process of language learning. All of them worked hard and made progress and were del… Source: rliberni.wordpress.com […]

    Pingback by How to be a good language student! 10 suggestions | English for work | Scoop.it — September 7, 2011 @ 6:49 pm | Reply

  13. This site is very informative and worth visiting every now and then. Please up the good work!

    Comment by RedMat — September 26, 2011 @ 3:54 pm | Reply


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