Monday, 14 March 2011

Learning Resources

Finding the Right Language Learning Resources
Approaching a new language can be a daunting task. Though you might already have settled on the particular language you want to learn, the next step is one of the most crucial - finding the right resources to get your started. There's nothing wrong with going out and buying the first course that catches your eye, but wouldn't you say it's better to first have a browse and see what's out there? These days in particular, language learning resources are big business for a lot of companies and as a result there are a considerable number of products on the market. As with anything, these products are of varying quality. It is highly recommended that you research before buying to avoid disappointment later.

What can you buy? And more importantly, what should you buy? Well, one of the first things many people will do is invest in a well-known series of language courses such as the Teach Yourself guides. These commonly come with a number of CD or audio components that accompany the book and as such allow you to listen to the language as you learn it - a crucial component. Although these courses are useful and provide you with an entry point into the language, a dictionary is an invaluable addition that will help dramatically expand your vocabulary. Bilingual dictionaries are available for the majority of languages out there, although for more obscure languages you might need to look further afield.
Grammar books aren't generally the most interesting of reads but they most certainly are essential for the aspiring language learner. Without a solid understanding of grammatical rules, you will never reach your full potential and indeed, will never reach fluency. Once you've got the grammar firmly lodged in your head, however, a great deal of the language suddenly makes a lot more sense. You can begin to apply those rules to what you're learning, working them out for yourself and really getting a feel for the language. It's a satisfying feeling and one that makes the hard work of ploughing through grammar books definitely worth it.
Software is increasingly marketed towards language learners. The idea of having the language student actively participating in games and activities that help their learning has become very popular over the last few years. Rather than sitting down with a book and CD, these programs attempt to engage the student in ways that harness modern technology with a view to making the learning process easier or more comfortable. Some people prefer these methods to sitting down with a book and there's certainly nothing wrong with it. Different methods suit different types of people and it is simply a case of identifying which work best for you.
Finally, one of the most valuable resources for learning a language is....actually going somewhere it is spoken! Some people would argue that this is the most important step in your education. No matter how good your language course, your grammar books, your dictionaries or your software, actually going to a country and experiencing the culture and language first hand is invaluable. Your other language learning resources simply cannot compare. If you are lucky enough to experience that kind of language immersion, your education and subsequently your confidence will get a huge boost.


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