Helpful tips & tricks for learning a language.
FAQ language courses
The Good Language Learner
Intrinsic motivation, i.e. motivation that comes from within, is important for learning a new language. Be aware of why you want to learn the language and what you need it for. It is best to visualize your goal and write it down!
A temporary loss of motivation is completely normal and affects every language learner sooner or later. In such a case, become aware of your initial motivation and visualize it in your mind's eye. Remember that learning a language requires a lot of time and practice and that only after having achieved a certain level (A2 or even B1 according to the CEFR) a meaningful conversation with native speakers is possible. Also, ask about additional alternative learning methods, such as a language tandem.
What is true for other learning content also applies to language learning: a lot helps a lot, but please don't try to learn everything at once! If you learn 10 new words a day, you will end up knowing 1150 new words in an average lecture period. Of course, so many words cannot be learned in just one week before the exam.
For a more precise estimation of the time required, please focus on the number of ECTS points. One credit point corresponds to 30 hours of work per semester, including classes.
During your studies, limit yourself to no more than two new foreign languages that you want to learn in addition to English. Then continue to learn this language up to a point where you can communicate actively and meaninfully with a native speaker. In general, this is possible from level A2 to B1 according to the CEFR. Depending on the language, you will need four to seven semesters to succeed.
If you expose yourself to the language you want to learn, you will achieve success much faster. Of course, stays abroad have the greatest impact, but you can also integrate a new language into your everyday life at home. For example, change a website you visit frequently or your cell phone to the target language. Listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts in the respective language. Read foreign language books and newspapers. Watch movies and TV series with original soundtracks. Even if you don't understand every single word, daily exposure to the language will prove advantageous.
Thinking or talking to yourself in the language you are learning will also greatly accelerate your learning process. Try going over your appointments for the week or your shopping list in the target language, or tell yourself about your weekend.
Get in touch with international students at your university! For example, register with the buddy program offered by the RWU International Office and take an international student under your wing for a semester.
Alternative learning methods
- Online exercises
- Additional materials offered by language publishers (Klett, Cornelsen, Langenscheidt, Hueber, etc...)
- Self-provided additional materials such as a flashcard system
- Flashcards or Spraced Repetition Software (SRS) such as Anki
- Language tandems
- Study abroad programs
- Use of media (music, movies, books, websites, podcasts...) in the respective language
- Language learning apps such as Babbel or Duolingo
- Talk to yourself in the foreign language
Feel free to ask your language teacher for more language learning methods!
Here you will find some websites that can be helpful in language acquisition.
- Perfect English Grammar
- British Council Learning English
- BBC Learning English
- Oxford Learner's Dictionaries
- Oxford Practice Grammar
- bab.la Standard phrases for different writing occasions in different languages
- IDEA The International Dialects of English Archive
- English edition The Deutsche Welle news site
- TuneIn Listen to radio stations from all over the world
German as a foreign language
A vocab book can be useful if you use it correctly. To mention just one example, don't bluntly copy down the vocabulary from the book, as you may have learned in school. Rather, use your notebook /pad actively in class: as soon as you don't know/remember a word, write it down immediately! Also write down phrases and use the vocabulary in complete sentences. As you flip through your vocab book, you will quickly notice which words or phrases you forget quite often, as they will show up on every page. Don't hesitate to collect such 'persistent' cases in a common place, such as the last page of thevocab book, so that you can practice them over and over again.
Index card systems and flashcards
In a flashcard system, individual words or phrases are written on a small card; on the front in the native language, on the back in the foreign language. In addition, a system is required with, in general, five different compartments in which the cards are sorted. At the beginning, all the cards are in the first tray. The cards in the first tray are revised daily, those in the second tray every two days, those in the third tray once a week, and so on. If the correct answer is given, this card moves one tray further - if not, it goes back to the first tray.
- Long-term retention is particularly promoted
- Good overview of one's own level of knowledge
- Vocabulary is learned in random order, which prevents the well-known "I know where it is, but don't know what it is called" effect.
- By creating the cards yourself, the vocabulary is practiced before the actual learning takes place.
- Regular revision of cards in the last tray ensures that even vocabulary that has already been learned is not forgotten.
So-called Spaced Repetition Software (SRS), such as the open source software Ankiis the digital version of a flashcard system. Here, an algorithm remembers which card needs to be learned again and when, so as not to be forgotten. Many SRS also have communities that provide various packs of cards for the respective programs free of charge on the Internet.
Learning as a team
Of course you can learn and study a language on your own in the privacy of your home - but you will have much more fun and success if you find a motivated partner to learn and practice together! This can be a language tandem, i.e. native speakers of your target language who in turn want to learn your native language. Language course peers are also appropriate partners for improving your language skills. Do homework together and communicate exclusively in the target language.
Don't be afraid to ask a fellow student about such a learning partnership. CLIC courses are characterized by a lot of interaction, so you will talk a lot and learn a lot from each other anyway. A regular learning partner can motivate you when you get stuck and ensures continuous practice of the language, which is also fun.
If you are interested in a language tandem, please contact CLIC.
To find a partner with the same native and target language, simply talk to fellow students in your language course or look for like-minded people in your personal circle before you start. You will quickly notice that learning in a team pays off!