January 7, 2009

Today's Language Acquisition tip

Ever try to speak a in a foreign language that you can, say, read exceptionally well, but can't actually say things well in? For a lot of us shy people, lack of speaking, combined with lack of good words to say when we finally get a chance to speak, can be frustrating--especially when you've got a complaint about the way something is being inflicted on you, but let's reel in our ranting, self, and continue with the post. However, your speaking skills need not be so bad; today, I exhort you to speak as you study. All too many times, I have had a word in my head. I'd know the concept--sometimes I don't have an English equivalent in mind, I just know it--, and I even have a good idea of the kanji behind it. But it won't come out. Especially if there is conjugation involved. Now you know my frustration when I watch my own recent videos. But if I had started speaking as I studied long ago*, maybe I would be a much smoother orator.

This speaking tip is one I never really used before I read a post by Alex and gave it a shot, but I have found it to be pretty useful. So now here's what I do: As I go through my Anki deck, which ideally happens every night, I speak each word. It is not only useful for a smooth recall in later, real life conversations, but it also cuts down on my studying time dramatically. I usually remember words after I have missed them once thanks to my newly discover auditory memory.

While it will probably provide a boost to everyone, this may not work as fantastically for you if you are not an auditory learner; looking back on my educational career, I always had a pretty good memory about what the teacher lectured on during any given class, with minimal notes. I am even remembering right this moment how a high school teacher got mad at me one time for not taking notes. "But Mr. Fatso"--I'm pretty sure that was his name-- "you said on the first day of class that we should only take as much notes as we feel we need." Mr. Fatso didn't like my infuriating memory that day, or my calling him Mr. Fatso.

So I guess the moral is, as always, study in the way that works for you --and don't forget what way of studying is best for you, because I am kicking myself as I write this post (blame the typos on said kicks)--, try many different ways to study even if they feel silly, and pretend to keep notes to keep Mr. Fatso from sending you to the principal's office.
*Well come to think of it, I did speak as I studied when I first started out. Have I told that story on this blog yet? Maybe it deserves a reiteration in the future.