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Strategies for Learning a Foreign Language

With the decision to become an expat, often comes the challenge of learning the new home country’s language. This can be a daunting task, especially for an adult who has never taken classes pertaining to that particular language. Here are a few helpful strategies that one can apply in the quest for bilingualism.

The first one that you should apply when learning a foreign language is “Risk JPEGTaking”. There are numerous “cognates” between languages (words that are the same in both languages, just pronounced differently) and I can think of MANY times when I have just taken a word in English, said it with a French accent and I was right: action, obsession, elegant, habitat, just to name a few, and there are hundreds of them. So take a risk and try to guess what the word may be! I think you’ll be surprised at how often this works.

The second strategy one may use is called “Circumlocution”. This basically consists of talking around a word that you don’t know, or describing the word. If you want to buy a dress but can’t remember the word, just say, “The long clothing.” Continue this way until you’ve got your point across! You can also just say, “It’s the opposite of _________”.

Another strategy is called “Restructuring”. It consists of using simplified grammar forms to communicate a message. For example, you want to say that last year you went to Paris, but lacking knowledge of the past tense, you end up saying "Last year I go to Paris." Your message has been delivered and most likely perfectly understood, but you have not necessarily used the right structure.

Good luck and “bonne chance” on your adventure to bilingualism. It’s a thrilling and humbling experience. I wish you laughter, success, and LOTS of strategy usage!!

Thursday 10 May, 2012 | Deana Farrell Wiatr


There are many more strategies, and a lot more information is available on how to be a good language learner. Please share your experiences and questions by responding to this article!

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