How To Learn A Language

Part Four: Living The Language


Few people will dispute the fact that computers can make learning a language more interesting and enjoyable. You may already be one of the many students who are computer enthusiasts and make full use of the excellent software available and the wide range of resources to be found on-line. Alternatively, you may be an occasional user who wishes to go a little bit further. Or perhaps you are unaware of the possibilities computers offer the language learner, and want to find out more.

Whatever stage you are at, you will find in this chapter a great deal of practical advice on all aspects of using computers to support foreign language learning. Useful information is provided on word processing, language-learning software, Internet-based resources and e-mail, with clear guidance being given on how best to use these within a language learning situation.

Sound and
There was a time when the written word was the principal medium of education and communication. If we wished to acquire knowledge, then we had to do so through the printed page. Nations built vast libraries to store their ever-increasing archives of books and newspapers, and entire generations spent countless hours poring over them.

Nowadays, we use electronic media to provide us with more instant knowledge and information, and this is delivered to us through sound and vision: television, video clips, DVD, radio and CD/MP3. The purpose of this chapter is to show how we can use these media to enhance our learning of a foreign language.

Information is given about the wide range of audio-visual language-learning resources now available on television, DVD, radio, CD and MP3, along with suggestions as to how best to use them.

It isn’t easy to learn a foreign language on your own. It can be done, but if you want to learn quickly and effectively then you’ll need the help and cooperation of other people. To do this you have to make the effort to establish effective working relationships; if you don’t, then you risk missing out on a lot of valuable linguistic interaction.

People Power looks at the roles of those individuals who can help you with your language learning: teachers, fellow students, friends, family members, language assistants and tutors. All these people have one thing in common: the ability to influence and shape your language learning for the better. They can all contribute something, but only if you allow them to do so. Therefore it’s up to you to communicate clearly and constantly, so that they are aware of your concerns, difficulties and needs. This chapter shows you how exactly how to achieve this.

Question: what is the best way of improving your language skills? Answer: spend some time in the country whose language you are studying. Students who are lucky enough to be able to do this make much greater progress in their language studies.

Being in the foreign country places you within a different culture and lifestyle; you can meet new people, experience their way of life and thus expand your own horizons. You have almost unlimited opportunities to listen to, speak, read and write the foreign language by interacting with other people and/or media. Time spent in the foreign country is highly valued by future educators and employers, and demonstrates that you are a resourceful and enterprising student. On a personal level, the periods we spend abroad are often the most formative, memorable and fulfilling of our lives.

All the important aspects of learning a language in the foreign country are covered in this chapter: the advantages for you, the student, the types of stay available, and advice and strategies on how to make the most of your time spent abroad.