How do we learn? We all know the answer lies in the science of cognitive learning and human behavior. However, without getting into many complicated details, we can definitely say that no matter whether you are introverted or extroverted, technologically savvy, or prefer traditional methods, learning in an environment that reacts back to you will always help your brain stay engaged. This is why active learning, which consists of using your knowledge to interact with the teacher, your peers, or native speakers, is with no doubt more effective than passive learning, defined as listening to lectures or reading materials.
Here are a few tips to facilitate the memorization of language-related inputs:
Make it fun. Games provided by apps like DuoLingo use gamification to stimulate your mind. Bright graphics and encouraging audio help to positively reinforce learners and keep them engaged as repetitive action helps to strengthen their grasp on linguistic structures. These apps work well for vocabulary and basic learning but they are limited if you are seeking a more in-depth and personalized experience.
Repetitions. This technique works well if you are trying to memorize vocabulary, rules, or even grammar structures. If you rely on oral repetitions or, better yet, write down what you learn, it will help you visualize language inputs. A great tool for it is flashcards because they require your brain to recall information and stay active during this process (we will soon have flashcards for our courses too!).
Mnemonic devices. These are techniques that can help you remember information by associating it with something else. For example, you could use an acronym to remember a list of words or create a mental image to associate with a new vocabulary term. I learned Turkish by associating words with the Neapolitan dialect. It was hilarious! 😉
Use context. It can be easier to remember language-related information when it is presented in context, rather than in isolation. For example, if you are learning German words, do it with the corresponding articles before each noun. It will save you a ton of time in the future!
Use multiple learning styles. Different people have different learning styles, and using a combination of approaches can help you retain information more effectively. For example, you might try visual learning techniques (such as creating mind maps or using visual aids), auditory techniques (such as listening to recordings or practicing pronunciation), or hands-on techniques (such as participating in role-plays or writing in the language). To find out what is your preferred learning style, take this quiz.
Take breaks. It’s important to give your brain time to process and retain new information. Taking breaks while studying can help you remember language-related information more effectively. I love using the productivity cube from Amazon. These visual timers work wonders for both self-learning and working.
Practice regularly. One of the most effective ways to remember language-related information is to practice regularly. This could include studying vocabulary lists, reviewing grammar rules, partnering with a pal for language exchange, or taking language lessons with native teachers.
Don’t get discouraged by the difficulty of learning a new language. Find a medium that is fun for you and the learning process will feel easier and fun.