You are about to make a very important decision in your life: You want to continue your studies abroad. However, you run into an obstacle: the language. The country you have chosen as your destination speaks a language other than yours. Although you have already studied that language, you haven’t used it for a long time and it feels a bit rusty. Also, you are surprised that you must take an international exam if you want to apply to a university; they want to make sure of the level of proficiency you have in that language. What to do?
Here, we are your advisors when it comes to international exams. In this article, we’ll give you some tips that you should follow while taking one of our test preparation courses such as the TOEFL, GMAT or SAT.
Study every day
Try to set aside some time each day to remember what you have studied for the day, ideally when your brain is most receptive. It is better to study for 30 minutes each day than for 3 hours once a week. If you can spare an hour a day, divide it into two or three sessions to avoid overloading your brain.
If you decide to study half an hour a day, for example, try to meet that time without any distraction. It’s often easier to start an activity if you know you’ll finish it after a certain amount of time. Don’t worry about completing the lesson or whatever you’re working on, just try to do as much as you can.
Review each lesson several times, perhaps once in the morning, once at night, and once several days later. Give your brain time to digest the material, but make sure the differences between study periods are not too long. That is, try to keep it for no more than a few weeks, or you will forget most of what you are trying to learn. Make sure you understand the content of one lesson before moving on to the next.
Build on a solid foundation
Make sure you are comfortable with the fundamentals of the language before tackling more advanced aspects. It will take time to get used to the pronunciation and spelling of a new language, but without a solid understanding of these it will be very difficult to learn more.
Setting reasonable goals is a good way to motivate yourself. Set yourself goals as well as time limits to achieve certain levels of proficiency.
Focus on your interests
Once you have mastered the basics and fundamentals of the language, learn to speak, write and read about what interests you. This way, you are more likely to remember the words, phrases, and grammar constructions that you find.
Don’t be put off by the apparent lack of progress
There will be times when you will think that you are making progress quite quickly, while at other times you will think that you are stuck or even regressing. This is normal when learning a language, so don’t be discouraged. If you feel like you are making little or no progress, try reviewing your previous lessons or exercises.
Don’t worry about making mistakes
You are likely to make the occasional mistake when speaking your native language, so making mistakes in a foreign language is nothing to worry about. What matters is getting the message across, and not whether you use all the correct words, tenses, modes, etc.
If you can’t think of the exact words, try using different ones. For example, let’s say you were talking about your office and you didn’t know the word for the copier, you could try to describe its function: “a copy machine” instead. You can also try drawing and / or miming if you can’t think of words.
Learn to say things like “How do you say X in your language”, “What’s the word for Y?”, “What’s that called?”, “What are they doing?”, Etc.
If you have a teacher or native speaker to help you with your studies, ask them to point out your mistakes and correct them. When you learn a new language, being pointed out every mistake you make can be a bit demoralizing. You can ask that only the most serious ones be mentioned. When you have gained more confidence and a degree of fluency in the language, ask that all your mistakes be discussed.
If you inadvertently offend someone with your mistake, it helps to have a few phrases up your sleeve, such as “Forgive me, I don’t speak your language very well, but I’m trying to learn it.” Or “Why are you laughing so much?” “What is so funny?” “What did I say wrong?”
Find ways to make language learning fun. This could involve games, songs, stories, tongue twisters, jokes, and whatever else you have in mind.