The Student Room Group

What is the best way to learn languages?

Idk if it counts as educational, but do you think the best way is through learning by reading textbooks and learning through memorising, or do you believe we should take another way and learn through assigning words to objects and learning the way babies do?
Personally, I find that learning language in a "real-life" manner is most effective, e.g. by attaching words to your surroundings or by figuring out as you talk what words you need to express yourself a conversation. Textbooks are limited to a given range of topics and vocabulary, typically just whatever is on the exam, so they necessarily omit lots of useful data that will come up in a real-life setting. Memorization is inevitable though, especially for grammar. I have a B1 in German, working on an A-level and a B2/C1 certification.
Original post by penguingirl18
Personally, I find that learning language in a "real-life" manner is most effective, e.g. by attaching words to your surroundings or by figuring out as you talk what words you need to express yourself a conversation. Textbooks are limited to a given range of topics and vocabulary, typically just whatever is on the exam, so they necessarily omit lots of useful data that will come up in a real-life setting. Memorization is inevitable though, especially for grammar. I have a B1 in German, working on an A-level and a B2/C1 certification.

ah! That makes sense
Original post by nikkiblonsky
Idk if it counts as educational, but do you think the best way is through learning by reading textbooks and learning through memorising, or do you believe we should take another way and learn through assigning words to objects and learning the way babies do?

I'm fluent in 5 languages amd I'm learning a 6th one now.... Books and Memorising doesn't help.
I've learnt 2 at school... so even academics... Books and Memorising isn't effective unless you practically use it.

Well, I study the language first for a few days to know how it works... and then begin using it word by word... for example I wanna say in Arabic the sky is blue...I just figure out the word for sky and blue... I don't care that is adding up of whatever...
I use apps too for practice but Unless I don't utter it.. it doesn't help.
Hope you get an idea....

in short, practical implementation without even caring if it makes sense....lol!

Disclaimer: These are my experiences.

Happy to be PMed...
(edited 2 years ago)
i wasted two years struggling for a B in gcse french after which i've learned effectively nothing

it took a few years before i reconsidered learning a language, and when i did i found integrating the language into my life a much more effective way of learning. i've still not learned another language well enough to use one but i'll get there
Depends on the language I suppose; for modern languages learning through immersion is the dominant model, trying to use roleplays of everyday scenarios and talk at the students in the language as much as possible, get them to read the news and so on in the language (although ideally using adapted sources with a sheltered vocabulary to promote vocab learning and retention).

For ancient languages this doesn't really work (although someone has created a "the news in Latin" site iirc) as the languages are generally "dead" languages, where language teaching tends to be (perhaps by necessity, perhaps by convention), the traditional "grammar and translation" method, of learning the grammar (and invariably rote learning paradigms for conjugations and declensions) and then practicing translations. But you can't really create an "immersion" environment for ancient languages generally, except in highly unusual situations (e.g. there is a school which teaches Sanskrit to students from primary level, and uses it in assemblies and so on as I understand).

I think using immersion methods, and smaller "bites" of learning (e.g. with duolingo and similar apps) is a better way to build up language competency for modern languages, from my recollection of having studied some in school. But I don't think this really works with ancient languages as above (which is what I am studying now :tongue:). @Quick-use might have some perspectives on what language teaching/learning approaches he had and what worked for him? As he studied several languages to a high level!
Original post by nikkiblonsky
Idk if it counts as educational, but do you think the best way is through learning by reading textbooks and learning through memorising, or do you believe we should take another way and learn through assigning words to objects and learning the way babies do?


The best way is to use the language you want to learn daily! by listening to music, watching to films in that language and writing in forums where this foreign language is spoken. Or why do you think I am (almost) every day here on TSR?
i mean i learnt hindi/urdu by just watching random movies and dramas and I don't speak either language (originally, tht is).
Original post by HS_1
i mean i learnt hindi/urdu by just watching random movies and dramas and I don't speak either language (originally, tht is).


That underlines my statement at least in part: the best way to learn is to come into a nonchalant contact.
Original post by Kallisto
That underlines my statement at least in part: the best way to learn is to come into a nonchalant contact.

yes, top-quality advice! I'm thinking of using the same method to try and learn turkish.
Original post by HS_1
i mean i learnt hindi/urdu by just watching random movies and dramas and I don't speak either language (originally, tht is).

are you fluent in hindi/urdu by watching films
Original post by umchileanyways
are you fluent in hindi/urdu by watching films

I can understand wht's being said and can speak and form sentences but my accent/pronounciation is embarrassing bcos I don't practise speaking it (bcos i don't speak it at home and don't have hindi-speaking friends etc.) so yes?
Reply 12
Realistically you have to have the commitment to spend time learning vocabulary and grammar. For listening and speaking skills I feel lessons with a native speaker or living in a country where the language is spoken really increases progress. Mind you with the lessons from a native speaker they also have to have teaching skill.

Some people seem to have a particular aptitude for picking up languages, perhaps enhanced if they are already multilingual. A German colleague of mine spoke better English than me, moved to work in Sweden and his colleagues there told me he was approaching fluency after six months!
Original post by HS_1
yes, top-quality advice! I'm thinking of using the same method to try and learn turkish.

But after all a basic knowledge in grammar and vocabulary is required. Learning a language without to understand a word can't work.
Original post by Kallisto
But after all a basic knowledge in grammar and vocabulary is required. Learning a language without to understand a word can't work.

yes, agreed. I personally learnt tht just by watching stuff w subtitles and i'd alternate it sometimes, so I could get an idea of the grammar itself. The way i learnt it might not be the ''best'' way of learning a language but it worked for me :s-smilie:
immersion !
think about your daily life and how you immerse yourself with english language. watching TV/movies, listening to music, chatting online, reading news etc etc. once you have learnt some basic words, grammar and alphabet in your target language you should start immersing yourself this way.
we do these daily activities without realising sometimes, or for comfort or enjoyment. finding something you enjoy and then doing that activity within the language you are learning is engaging and the best way to learn imo
I learn best through pictures and colours. Whilst I still can and do learn French I prefer to see pictures and bold bright colours. I typically and always tend to colour code my lesson notes as well. Find the learning style which works for you personally however.

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