General Principles for How to Study a Foreign Language

1. Efficient study techniques in foreign language study, like learning methods in any subject, require an organized approach, in order to -

    a. reduce resistance to getting started. (Knowing exactly what you are going to do is half the battle against the ever-present forces of procrastination.)

    b. improve concentration. (With a planned approach, one step follows another with less opportunity for distractions to take over.)

    c. raise efficiency. (More time is spent involved in the subject.)

    d. increase learning. (Provided the organized study method is the proper one, increased concentration and efficient use of time leads to greater learning.)

  2. Foreign language learning requires the acquisition of four distinct skills: reading, written composition, and speech.

    a. Language textbooks are usually set up in such a way that every lesson contains some training in each skill.

    b. These skills must be learned more or less simultaneously.

    c. Appropriate study habits are needed for the development of each.

    d. Constant practice is required for their development.

  3. Language is highly cumulative skill; constant practice is required for both acquisition and retention.

    a. It is important that each lesson be learned. Failure to learn a missed assignment makes progress difficult and often impossible.

    b. Constant usage, repetition and frequent short study periods are methods essential for successful foreign language learning.

 4. Techniques for reading improvement in a foreign language are much the same as for reading in general:

    a. Read for ideas. (Do not translate, but attempt to derive the meaning within the framework of the foreign language structure.)

    b. Read as much as possible. (Choose material easy enough to require a minimum of reference to a dictionary, but using enough new words to permit vocabulary growth.)

    c. A technique for vocabulary growth includes putting a dot beside every word sought in the vocabulary list and later accumulating any "3-dotted words" into a difficult -word-list for study & review.