Consortium for International Education & Multicultural Studies
Methodology: How To Study
The word "communication" suggests that people talk to each other in pairs or in small or large groups. The word also suggests that questions are asked and answered; there is an initiation and a response. In other words, people communicating with each other take an active and passive role in conversation.
A foreign language teacher assumes a counseling role by initiating activity, listening, helping, and advising. Students are encouraged to communicate effectively in addition to producing grammatically correct forms of the language.
If you're attending a program to learn a foreign language, you should begin to set some language (accomplishment) goals for yourself.
You should want to increase your communicative repertoire in social areas, for example, asking for and giving permission and directions, making excuses, and the like. You'll want to build your language skills for extended discourse, e.g., for reporting, narrating, describing, explaining, etc.
You should practice connecting, speaking, and writing, and develop an awareness of different levels of formality. You'll want to practice study skills such as listening, note taking, reading, and writing, as well.
You should be trained to listen to and read the real spoken and written foreign language and to be enlightened on educational, social, and personal developmental levels.
When natives use their own language, they unconsciously follow certain patterns of syntax and pronunciation. Learning a foreign language consists of developing the habits of using the patterns of that language unconsciously. You should not concern yourself with apparent differences both in sound and syntax which you will encounter between your native language and the foreign language.
Each language is a system which has little or no relationship with the system that you are familiar with. In this respect, the foreign school should not translate from the foreign language into your native language when explaining, but should try to make you understand in the foreign language. It is very important that the foreign language you are making every attempt to learn, be used at all times. Don't fall into the trap of communicating in your native language.
BEFORE CLASS review the new material that will be covered that day. This should help you identify the characteristics of the structural patterns which you will be using in class.
IN CLASS listen to your teachers carefully, trying to imitate them as accurately as possible.
AT HOME prepare your homework, review the material covered in class, and repeat BEFORE CLASS, each day.
IF NECESSARY, seek out additional help from teachers and fellow students before class or during breaks. If there's a schedule for special help, get on it. If there is a major problem, you might want to consider getting a few hours of one-on-one assistance (although that will be subject to scheduling and additional cost).
As a stranger in a foreign land, there are ways and means of picking up on the foreign language all around you. Local radio stations will provide you with local music and an opportunity to listen to native speakers. Newspapers, magazines, and comic books will also provide you with a means of picking up bits and pieces of the foreign language. Magazines and comic books add a visual accompaniment, providing pictures and symbols. Television is also a great way to learn the language, especially commercials, again because it is both a visual and audio experience. Signs and printed ads, in magazines, on TV, splashed on brightly colored billboards and bus signs will also assist you in picking up some of the common everyday terms and phrases.
Many of the items above are available in more limited form in your own country and can be effectively used to help tune your ear and mind in preparation for your foreign experience. Check out your local library or newsstand. Inquire about volunteer opportunities where you may have contact with foreign nationals. The more you learn before you go, the faster you will learn abroad!