In this how-to guide for teaching English, I wrote about tips on how to continue learning a foreign language outside of the classroom. Here are some tips that you can give your students that promote independent learning.
Speak to Yourself
Try to force yourself to think and speak in the target foreign language. This is incredibly helpful for not only remembering vocabulary but to practice the language. Pro Tip: We learn languages faster when we are capable of thinking in the language. This takes a lot of work and practice, but it can pay off in the long run. If you have friends and/or family who can speak the same foreign language, speak with them in it! Every little bit of practice helps.
Consider making flashcards around various themes and practicing them on occasion. Some example themes could be as basic as animals, colors, numbers, etc., or as advanced as full phrases for expressing remorse, asking for help, or telephoning. Just make sure you say the words/phrases out loud. To make the activity more engaging, you could practice using the word in a sentence.
There are so many games that are fun to play which will help improve your language skills. I also like the website Breaking News English, which has many lessons and games that are fun for learning English. Consider games such as cross-word puzzles, word searches, trivia, etc.,
Chat with Native Speakers
Find message boards or online forums in the foreign language that you wish to learn. There are so many forums online that include almost every topic known to man! Find something that you find interesting and interact with others. It can be a bit scary at first, but this can be a great way to practice your foreign language skills!
Listen to Music
Do a search for the lyrics of your favorite song(s) and read them while you listen to it. This could be a great way to have fun while learning new vocabulary.
Watch a Movie
Watch a movie in the foreign language. Just be careful with subtitles. Here’s why:
- The translations are often very different. For example, I have heard that sometimes translators use the original movie script and not actual lines from the movie. This can not only be confusing, but lead to inaccuracies. I once watched a Star Wars movie in English with English subtitles. The subtitles were, at times, different than the actual spoken language.
Basically, if you watch a movie in a foreign language, do yourself a favor and turn the subtitles off. If you don’t understand a few things here and there – it’s okay. Just enjoy the film.
Similar to the idea of message boards, go on YouTube and watch videos from native speakers. YouTube is great because the videos are often shorter than films and you can search for things that are interesting for you – culture, news, reviews, tourism (just to name a few!). Moreover, follow people on Instagram, Twitter, etc., to have short conversations and dialogues with other native speakers.