NO one said learning a language was easy, but some pupils can handicap themselves with poor practising. Here, Zoe Lynch shows the right way to do it.
Today I am concentrating on the topic of language learning. Most students sitting the Leaving Cert in a few weeks time will have at least one language exam. As a student who studied both German and French for the Junior Cert and Leaving Cert, I have plenty of advice to share in this area.
Indeed, mastering a foreign language requires practice. But not just any practice. This practice must be productive, positive and precise.
"Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect," says legendary American football coach Vince Lombardi.
Learning a foreign language requires a broad range of skills such as reading, writing, listening, speaking, memorising and understanding.
In order to excel in the exams you must demonstrate a clear understanding and command of each skill.
Many students compile vocabulary lists throughout the year. If this works for you, stick with it.
Alternatively, follow my technique. Highlight rich vocabulary from a chunk of text. Next memorise the vocabulary. Memorising the vocabulary from the chunk of text is useful. This technique accommodates active learning. In this way, you will subconsciously absorb the context of the vocabulary as well as the meaning.
Therefore when you come across the word again your memory is triggered faster and the meaning of the word is recalled readily.
Now is the time to add the vocabulary to your list. Test yourself regularly. Cover up the English and write down the German/French/Spanish, etc.
You need to practise listening and speaking to conquer this section. I incorporated a handy habit into my daily schedule.
Listen to a piece of each language every day. I downloaded suitable material on to my iPod and listened to it on the bus on the way into school and on the way back. Even if I was doing something as banal as cleaning my room, I would have either German or French playing in the background.
Also, most of the material I listened to was suitable for me to use during my oral examination. So I suppose you could say I killed two birds with the one stone. It is this kind of practice that is most advantageous when learning a language. This habit was crucial in the development of many of the skills required for the oral and aural exams.
Your language class is an excellent source of material you should use yourself.
Always have a pen at the ready to take down any new phrase or word your teacher uses. Also pay attention to pronunciation. This will come in handy in the oral and aural.