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Reading and Writing

Reading Skills Tips

  1. Read all the way through a new passage two or three times, guessing at meaning from context. Avoid word-by-word translation. It's a waste of time!
  2. Isolate new vocabulary and study it separately. DON'T write between the lines! Make flash cards. Carry them with you and recite them during the day. Learn them until they are automatic. Put up new vocabulary words in your room so that you see them every day.
  3. Isolate new grammatical forms and study them separately. Write the pattern on a flash card and memorize it. Write out and label a model sentence. When you encounter the form while reading, pause and recite the pattern to recognize the form.

Writing Skills Tips

  1. Pay attention to detail: notice accents, order of letters, etc. Compare letter-by-letter different forms (singular, plural, gender, etc.). Write out conjugations of verbs, declensions of pronouns, etc., and check your endings. Memorize irregular verbs.
  2. Have a friend dictate ten words to you. Write them out and immediately have your friend spell them correctly aloud while you look carefully and point at each letter. Repeat until you get all the words right.
  3. Write (in your own simple foreign vocabulary words) a story you have just read.

Listening and Speaking are performance skills

Students of foreign languages often have difficulty hearing and speaking because they're anxious about making mistakes. It's OK to make mistakes, have fun trying to speak. Being abroad is a great opportunity to practice!

  1. Listening Skills Tips

    Listen while a friend dictates to you and write what you hear. Check for accuracy. Practice: Join clubs to meet native speakers, watch your host country's TV shows, listen to your host country's radio stations, don't wear a watch for a day and ask the natives the time to strike up a conversation, become a regular at a local establishment where only the locals gather, and try to choose housing with native speakers.

  2. Speaking Skills Tips
    • Study out loud! Mimic the sounds of the language. Don't mumble. Although most people feel embarrassed making strange sounds, the language will soon feel more familiar to you.
    • Say something, even it's wrong; you'll learn from it. If you need a moment to think, repeat the question. If you don't know the answer, say in your foreign language, I don't know or Help!
    • Practice with a native speaker who wants your help to learn your mother tongue, or with another class member.

Taken from Cope Powell, Jo Ann. Tips on Studying a Foreign Language. The University of Texas at Austin Learning Center as cited in – Tips on Studying Language


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