HOW to Study They know enough who know how to learn. – Henry Brooks Adams Many students and even some English teachers think that learning a foreign language is reading and memorizing grammar rules and memorizing words. Of course, those activities are important but not essential. Many language learners ignore the fact that in addition to learning a foreign language they need to develop certain practical language skills. They need to practice the language every day because language skills are acquired. Learners acquire a language, step-by-step. Acquiring a language means that students 'pick up' certain skills, not just memorize information – grammar rules, words, phrases, syntactical structures and other information about language. Acquiring a language is like acquiring swimming skills: you must not only understand the ideas and concepts, have information at hand; you must also make your body adapted to using that information in physical activity. In the case of language acquisition, the physical activity involved is listening, speaking, reading, writing and body language (or, to be more precise – paralanguage, i.e. mimics, gestures, facial expressions and other paralinguistic aspects). Learners need not only to memorize and understand but also to practice in order to 'pick up' certain skills. It is important to use effective language teaching methods.
1. Students must study every day. Language learning is an ongoing process. They cannot get by in a foreign language course by cramming at the last minute like they do with history or geography. Perhaps it would be possible to memorize vocabulary in one or two days before the examination but there would be not enough time to learn how to use these words and phrases in sentences (can we cram for a swimming, skiing or skating test?). 2. Students should review previous topics and vocabulary. Language learning is cumulative. Learners pick up new skills on the basis of old ones. The more they ‘reprocess’ familiar information and skills, the better they will be able to integrate new ones. Teachers usually present and test new language skills in a segmented, unit-by-unit approach, as a matter of administrative convenience. However, language acquisition is not segmented at all; it is cumulative. Learners add new skills to the old ones without superseding them. Previously picked up skills are incorporated into new skills. 3. ESL learners should not be afraid of making errors. Shyness can be a strong obstacle to learning a language. Children acquire languages faster than adults because they are not afraid of making mistakes. If adults are prepared to make mistakes or errors, from time to time, or even regularly, they will feel more comfortable in practicing and trying to speak. Language learning cannot be efficient if students are afraid of their errors. 4. Students should spend much time on improving listening and speaking skills. We should always remember that listening and speaking go together. Computer lab, tape recorder, English movies, as well as oral communication in various situations make language learning efficient and even interesting. 5. ESL teachers should help the students to develop their reading habits (the culture of reading). Students should read interesting materials in English. Teachers should select abridged books (fiction) according to their levels and interests. Such software like Babylon can help students to overcome language learning difficulties. English teachers should recommend this software to their students.
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Having the right attitude towards study is very important. Setting goals, prioritising, setting apart a place for study and setting apart some time for study every day will help your students to avoid working all night before exams. Tell your students to make a weekly study plan. Learn MORE...
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