Since I’ve been back in the states, I’ve received emails from students going abroad and currently abroad asking for advice in how to survive in Japan, how to meet people and make friends, and so on. Today, a student asked me how to study in Japan to make learning easier. Well, it made me think back to how much trouble I had when I started learning Japanese, and the methods I developed to help make learning this new language easier. So, without further ado, here are my tips for learning a new language.
Tip #1 – Take notes
Of course you take notes in class, but when I was abroad, I bought a small pocket notebook to carry around with me at all times. Throughout the day, every time I heard a word I didn’t recognize, I wrote it down, found the definition, and studied it. Doing this will help you increase your vocabulary greatly.
Tip #2 – Drill
This method works for some but not others, depending on you preferred style of study. I feel that rote memorization can be a useful tool when learning vocabulary. It teaches us to quickly associate a foreign word with its English equivalent. Some teachers may not like this method because they want you to learn to think in that language, but that can be a bit more difficult for students who are not already multilingual.
Tip #3 – Get a partner
Having someone who is more fluent or even a native in the language, who can correct your mistakes and maybe even teach you new ways to remember things can only benefit you while you’re in a new country. Take advantage of any and all help that is available to you.
Tip #4 – Study often
It’s hard to want to study more than we have to sometimes, but putting forth that extra effort is going to get you extra results. Don’t settle for just passing your classes. Develop the connection with your host country and learn to communicate properly.
Tip #5 – Immerse yourself
This can be much easier said than done for some people. Some people may not have to social skills, the confidence, or the desire to completely come outside their confort zone and be around people they can’t communicate with. However, being in a foreign country, the more exposure you get to the language, the easier it becomes to pick up. This method may take time, but it definitely helps.