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How to speed up your language learning

by Louise Taylor

The evolution of the internet and mobile technology have provided us with a vast array of new ways in which to learn languages. Classroom learning is still an excellent method, but it is now far from the only way to learn. Here we explore how these new ways of absorbing language can help to speed up the pace at which you learn, which is ideal for anyone considering a career in translation.

Traditional language learning methods

Classroom learning is the most established method of learning a second language around the world. Teachers present the language orally and in many circumstances back it up with texts, written exercises and games to teach its written form as well. Classroom learning allows students to share the experience of learning a language and provides plenty of scope for speaking practice. Teachers can also explore particular nuances and quirks of the language in response to interest from students and explain problem areas in more detail.

Learning a language through listening to it (whether by tape, CD, MP4 or other means) is another technique that is widely used. As a method of individual study, learning in this format allows the student to go at his/her own pace and to go over any parts they find difficult repeatedly.

The chances are that if you speak a second language you are familiar with these methods, but for those just looking to learn a new language now, the process can be sped up dramatically by complementing or even replacing these methods with some more modern techniques.

Online language learning methods

If you want to learn a language faster, the first step is to explore the huge number of online resources available to you. The gamification of language learning has made it a more enjoyable experience for many who previously struggled with more traditional methods. There are plenty of online games available from languages ranging from those most commonly studied to less widely spoken languages. They are free to play, fun and help the player to quickly absorb new words.

Many apps also use gamification to assist in speedy language learning and have the advantage that after the initial download, the student doesn't need to be online to play them – they can have language learning at their fingertips wherever they go, just by getting out their phone.

Online flashcards are another great way to learn quickly and many use image associations to help reinforce the words being used, allowing the brain to absorb the information in a different format. Many learners find this method effective in speeding up their capacity to take in lists of vocabulary.

Blended learning

One of the oldest ways of learning – the ‘method of loci,' which is also known as the memory palace or mind palace technique – is also enjoying a revival thanks to the internet, which has blended the ancient method with modern technology. Building a memory palace is a method of using spatial awareness and visualization to remember things. Done correctly, it's a powerful memory technique that can speed up learning and enhance the student's capacity to recall that information at a later date. From Ancient Rome and Greece to modern day memory masters around the world, the memory palace technique is used as an excellent means of memorizing large volumes of information. Learning to use this method effectively can speed up language learning significantly.

Speeding up your language learning

The best way to speed up your language learning is to explore all of these techniques and find out what works best when it comes to your individual learning style. Find out which methods you enjoy the most and which work best in terms of aiding your memory (the two things aren't necessarily the same) and then sit back and reap the benefits!

About the writer

Louise Taylor is a freelance writer who writes for the Tomedes Translators' Hub and blog, as well as a range of online and print media.

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