When learning a foreign language, repetition is the key to your success. Studies show that very high numbers of repetition are necessary for you to truly "own" a word. Repetition exercises can be verbal, aural, read or written. They don’t need to be boring. You can vary them.
Use Several of Your Senses
You will retain new vocabulary better if you speak the word out loud as you write it down or read it. Writing characters while you study can also help with retention.
Mirrors and Acting
Watch yourself in the mirror occasionally as you speak your foreign language. Practice various postures, and try acting angry, happy, or sad. Use the language to truly communicate your feelings so that it has some context.
Some students are very nervous in foreign language class. You don’t want to say something stupid and make a fool of yourself. However, learning a language almost guarantees that you will make mistakes. You just have to convince yourself that this is yje name of the game, and keep trying.
In your native language, you don’t have to listen very well. You only actually hear some of the words being said and your brain fills in the rest. You can’t do this when you are first learning a language. You have to train yourself to listen and listening to audio tapes can really help. It can take awhile to become accustomed to a native speaker’s speech patterns, so don’t become frustrated. Start listening in small amounts and build up more time as you go.
Think about how and when you learn best, and then put those methods to work. Many people benefit from flash cards, word association, memory tricks, or making up sentences using new vocabulary words. Find a "study buddy" that you can meet with to study and discuss the material you’re learning.
Study often for short periods of time. Two fifteen minutes study periods are usually more effective than a half an hour block. Languages cannot be "crammed" at the last minute. They are learned through frequent and constance practice and review.
Don’t take a semester off from your language instruction! You will forget your language at an alarming rate. If you are planning a break in your language sequence for any reason, speak with an advisor first.
Make friends with French speaking students and/or members of the community; subscribe to TV5 (French speaking TV channel available through most cable/satellite companies) and, most of all, explore different ways to interact with French speakers. This will be very helpful in increasing your confidence and improve your skills.
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• Avoid letting too much time between periods of study : listening and speaking skills required a day to day contact for long-term retention
• Try to study regularly, but in short periods. 1/2 hour each day is usually better than 2 hours twice a week
• Whenever possible, say the words and phrases out loud
• Listen to your CD frequently
• If you can possibly learn with somebody else, you will be able to help each other and practise the language together
• Be patient and above all don’t get upset or angry with yourself : frustration is a poor adviser! If you don’t understand something, leave it for a while
• Learning a language is a bit like doing a jigsaw or a crossword; there are many ways to tackle it and it all falls into place eventually
• Don’t be afraid to write in your book and add your own notes
• Do revise frequently
• It also helps to get somebody to test you
• Real language is complex and you will find certain things in every unit which are not explained in detail. Don’t worry about this. We will build up your knowledge slowly, selecting only what is most important to know at each stage.
HINTS ON LISTENING COMPREHENSION
• that you don’t need to hear or understand every word to be able to understand what is being said.
• that many of the listening tests you will have to do in examinations will be read or played twice, though twice only. Don’t expect further repetition
• to listen for the general sense of the French first, and understand whatever detail you can. But don’t panic if you can’t understand everything: on the second reading or playing, you will be able to understand more.
• write and listen at the same time: you will miss what is being said
Read the questions carefully: they often provide valuable clues.
• make an intelligent guess if you don’t understand completely. You may be wrong, but you will certainly be wrong if you don’t attempt to answer at all
• give as much detail as you can in your answers. You may lose marks for putting ‘a car’ when the French was ‘une voiture rouge’
• pay special attention to numbers, on their own or as parts of times and dates. You are used to seeing them appearing as figures (63,10h 25, 1992) but there is no short way of saying them: soixante-trois , dix heures , vingt-cinq , dix-neuf cent quatre-vingt-douze.
HINTS ON READING COMPREHENSION
• Notice if the passage has a title: if so, this will often give a good general indication of what is to come.
• do read the whole passage through to get a broad picture of what is going on.
• don’t read just the first two sentences and start worrying about the meaning of some particular word or phrase. This may well become clear as you read more of the passage – and even if it doesn’t, there may not be a question on it anyway!
• don’t expect to understand every single word, even after several readings. Try to visualise what is going on or being described, and this will help you understand the essentials.
When in doubt make a sensible guess. Some French and English words are quite similar, which can be of a great help.