The Art of Learning a Foreign Language

As a CIS student, learning a foreign language has become part of my daily routine. Sometimes you might feel like you’re never going to be able to achieve the level that you’re expected to. Over the course of the last few years, I myself have learned to listen, speak, read, and write in French. I can’t say that it was an easy process, since the French language is quite complicated, but I can say that now I know fairly well how to optimize your learning process.

First of all, it is best to start as young as possible. As a child, your capability of learning is the greatest it will ever be. As you get older, it will slowly start to decrease. But don’t be afraid, it is never too late to learn!

Now, since you’re probably not a child anymore and you can’t really change your age, there are other pieces of advice that might work for you. Studying words and learning the rules about grammar are important, but listening to real conversations in a particular language, may it be English, French, Spanish, German or any other language, will drastically improve your comprehension of that language (N.B. participating in a conver

sation would be even better!). After a while, you might start recognising certain expressions that are frequently used, the intonation that makes a language, or other characteristics. An active way of learning

will always be superior to any other form of learning. Fun ways you could do this on a daily basis, are by listening to music or to the radio, watching series, movies, vlogs or other types of videos on YouTube, or by reading newspapers or articles about topics that you’re interested in.

But by far the best way to learn a language is by doing something that I did myself last year. I went to the Université de Montpellier for one semester, and surrounded myself with French people. Forcing yourself to speak French (or any other language for that matter) day in day out, and listening carefully to the local teachers during class will do wonders for you. Not only will you master a certain language, you will also be placed right into a different culture and you will get to know what it is like to be a true Frenchman. The last tip I can give you is to never stop practicing. That is the only way to get better at something. Practice really makes perfect.

Yannick Gloudi