There are many self-study approaches and techniques developed to learn in general. Not everything works for everyone. For example, I am unable to learn by memorizing the vocabulary, because it is only a bunch of random words without any connection. For me, memorizing is the worst learning technique and I consider it especially boring. So, let’s look at some other more engaging approaches.
Better than memorizing single words, is creating a context or connection between a group of words. Try to create a sentence using a group of words. This way, you can learn more words at once. Just pick some words from the vocabulary and connect them in a chain.
Some people struggle with lack of time. Nowadays, everyone is busy with work and personal life with no free time to learn languages. However, if you think carefully, you will definitely find some gaps that you can use to learn. My teacher of Japanese taught me a 5-minute rule. She maintained that 5 minutes a day is all you need to learn Japanese. Just sit and practice vocabulary or do some exercises. Everyone can find 5 minutes of free time a day.
Let’s stop whining. We all can find gaps in our busy schedule. These gaps are good for using another technique I like, which is called imaginary dialogues. Using this technique, you can practice in the shower or while commuting to work. It is based on doing imaginary conversations in your head. Commuting to work takes me about 45 minutes, so that is a plenty of time. Usually I imagine a situation when I meet some foreigners and I want to give them directions. Or I imagine a conversation with my boss, for example about vacation, weather and so on. It is good if you can think of real situations, because there is a possibility they will happen and you will be prepared to react.
There is a small disadvantage that comes with imaginary dialogues. Sometimes, you can practice situations in your head that will bring smile to your face. To people around you (e.g. in a bus) you can seem like a weirdo who smiles or makes grins without any reasons.
Another good space for practicing vocab is during shopping. You can either create a list in foreign language or you can list the items in your head while doing shopping.
Beat the fear from talking in foreign languages
Sometimes, I am still afraid to talk to foreigners, because I know my language skills are not perfect. However, when I see lost foreigners on the street, how they are trying to buy bus tickets, I ask them if they need help. This is a win-win situation, because they will get help and I will practice English.
Use games, flashcards, or other materials
We learn not only using eyes (reading), ears (listening), or mouth (speaking), but also using hands. If you can’t remember some words, try to write them down. If you think writing is useless, try to create or write some study materials that you will use. For example, I like smoothies for breakfast, so I started creating small cards with smoothie recipes in foreign language.
Practice makes perfect
Sometimes we learn something, but we forget it in a short time. To avoid this, try to revise regularly. For example, you study on Monday, so revise the lesson/vocab on Friday or during the weekend. This way, you will recall the learned information and remember it for a longer period.
I recommend to find a penpal or a conversation partner to practice what you have learn. If you are not confident yet, try imaginary dialogues or talk to your pet. 🙂
And what approach or method works best for you?