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5 Awful Instructions to Ignore When Learning a Language

5 Awful Instructions to Ignore When Learning a Language

Getting the right advice when you’re learning something new can transform your learning process. But getting the wrong advice and mistakenly following it can undo that process very quickly.

So how do you distinguish the great advice from the awful? We’ll be honest, it’s difficult. Some of the worst advice out there about language learning can appear useful for the beginners or those without any previous experience learning.

This is why we’ve curated the top 5 awful advice for you to ignore (and run from).

1. “You’re too old” to learn a language

Despite what conventional society tells us, how ‘old’ we are shouldn’t affect our ability to reach fluency in a language. We’re not saying that a 50-year-old person can learn as fast as someone who’s 5 years old, but it’s more than possible.

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In fact, a study done by Hakuta, Bialystok and Wiley compared the language learning abilities in adults of different ages. Each participant was taught the same words in the same learning environment. The results showed that people over 50 learn just as well as people in their 20’s or 30’s.

2. You need to travel to a foreign country

With the advent of technology today, there’s no reason for anyone to travel to a foreign country to learn a language. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a plane ticket and finding accommodation, you can find amazing teachers where you are.

From my experiences traveling, I’ve seen many people that assumed living in a foreign country will guarantee their ability to learn. Because of this, they didn’t make much of an effort, and by the time they had to come back home, it was too late.

The key is motivation, not just environment.

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3. Just use free mobile apps!

There are plenty of free mobile apps out there that can help you practice your vocabulary and grammar. But there’s only so much that these apps can help you with.

Duolingo is probably the first tool you think of, but the following is the response from some customers at Rype:

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        The point we’re trying to make is not that you shouldn’t use these free language apps to learn, but you shouldn’t rely on it being your sole method of learning. It’s like trying to get in the best shape of your life by relying on a fitness application on your phone, there’s more to it!

        4. Focus on using just one method to learn a language

        Focus is certainly important, but as we shared before, relying on one method is not the way to go. There’s a method you want to use for developing your writing skills, another method for speaking, and so forth.

        You should also find different ways to activate your brain. The purpose of learning a language for most people is to communicate with others, and that’s how we should be learning how to speak it. You can do this via language meetups, finding accountability partners, or working with a private language teacher online (especially if you’re busy).

        5. You can learn conversation in the classroom

        Last but not least, the advice on how to become a better speaker in a foreign language.

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        Tim Ferriss, who’s a polyglot and bestselling author, says:

        “Somewhat like riding a bike, though unfortunately not as permanent, language fluency is more dependent on practicing the right things than learning the right things. The rules (grammar) can be learned through materials and classes, but the necessary tools (vocabulary and idiomatic usage) will come from independent study and practice in a native environment.”

        His point was that there’s nothing that can replace practicing with a real human being to improve your communication skills. That’s how we learned our first language, and it’s still the best way to learn the second.

        More by this author

        Sean Kim

        Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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        Last Updated on November 12, 2020

        13 Science-Backed Ways to Improve Your Memory

        13 Science-Backed Ways to Improve Your Memory

        Life is made up of memories, what you have seen, heard, and done. Every bit of information you take in is only useful if you can remember it at the right time. How can you improve memory and ensure information is there when you need it?

        There are many scientific theories and observations on how memories work. These theories provide us with an understanding of how feelings, routine, context, and recollection affect our memories. Here are some tips backed by scientific insights for improving memory.

        1. Method of Loci

        Method of Loci is a popular mnemonic technique that helps you recollect a large amount of information.[1] It works by utilizing your spatial and navigational skills as you envision your memories as part of a geographical entity. This is the technique that the famous fictional detective Sherlock calls the Mind Palace.

        memory techniques loci

          This method is extremely useful when you are preparing for a speech or an exam[2]. Here is how you can make use of it:

          • Visualize a space you are most familiar with. It could be your home, your favorite park, or your school.
          • Construct the rooms, shelves, furniture, and everything inside it in your mind.
          • Imagine yourself keeping the items you want to remember in each of the rooms or in/on/around specific objects.
          • Next time you want to remember something, walk through room by room to recall what you placed there.

          Repeating this exercise has proven to be a great way to improve memory and remember loads of information with ease.

          You can learn more about this method in this article: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything

          2. Acronyms

          Acronyms are proven to be very effective in memorizing a group of words. Research has shown that our brains are better at retrieving things when we associate meaning to them.[3] This is why recollecting a single meaningful word or phrase is easy compared to trying to remember a list of words.

          For instance, to memorize the directions on the compass, you can use the acronym NEWS (North, East, West, and South); or, when you want to remember the Great Lakes basin, you can make us of the acronym HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior), etc.

          Make up your own acronyms to the list of things you want to remember. All you need to do is list the things that you want to memorize and arrange them in an order such that the first letter of each word spells a real word.

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          3. Rhyming

          There is a reason why rhymes are still a popular way to teach kids. Our brains are great at acoustic encoding, which means breaking down sound structures.[4] We can easily remember stuff when they sound similar.

          The peg method can help you out. You first need to memorize the list in the exact order given below:

          one = bun

          two = shoe

          three= tree

          four = door

          five = hive

          six = sticks

          seven = heaven

          eight = gate

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          nine = vine

          ten = hen

          After you have memorized this list, now connect the first word to bun, second word to shoe, and so on. This will help you in making a memorable connection.

          Another way is to construct rhymes on the information you want to remember. For instance, if you want to remember that Mr. Jones runs a real-estate business, you can remember him with a rhyme:Mr. Jones from Homes.

          Although this may seem a bit weird and funny, this method will help you to improve memory overall.

          4. Linking

          This is a useful technique to help you stay sharp in many everyday scenarios, like remembering shopping lists. This is a visualization and association technique where you associate meaning to visual imagery. However, it is important to ensure that the images stored in your mind are as vivid as possible.

          For instance, if you want to remember a set of items, just link them up in a story. Let’s say that you want to remember the South England countries: Avon, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Somerset, Surrey, and Wiltshire.

          You can link all these countries in the form of a story to improve memory. An AVON lady is looking for a house. She is sweating and thirsty due to high SUMMER (Somerset). Along the way, she came across a giant CORN (Cornwall), but it is about to WILT (Wiltshire), etc.

          5. Chunking

          Very few people bother to remember phone numbers by heart nowadays. But what if you lose your contacts and need a way to recollect those long numbers? This memory technique will be handy in those situations.

          Chunking is basically breaking down the information into smaller pieces that are easy to remember. Start with a small number, say 379372518. Break it to three chunks 378 372 518. Improve your skills every day by trying to remember more numbers this way.

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          6. Write It Down

          Writing stimulates your reticular activating system (RAS).[5] So whenever you are trying to learn something and improve memory, try writing it down. Review what you have written and test yourself.

          You can also hand draw memory maps to further develop your memorization power.

          7. Be Busy

          Repeat all your brain exercises regularly and keep testing yourself to get better. A recent study revealed that our brain needs to be busy to keep itself fit as well.[6]

          Test yourself repeatedly if you want to retain the correct information for the longest time.

          Take walks or indulge in some physical activities as well. Research shows that healthy people who exercise regularly have better memories than those who don’t.

          8. Give Yourself a Good Sleep

          Sleeping is very much necessary if you want to improve memory. A tired body that lacks sleep will not be able to recollect or retain information effectively. Rest well and make sure your body and mind are rejuvenated every day.

          Furthermore, studies show that a lack of sleep can increase risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease[7]. Do your body and mind a favor and get a good night’s sleep as often as possible.

          9. Eat Healthy

          Try to include more memory-boosting fruits and vegetables into a healthy diet to improve memory. A study conducted by Harvard medical school backs this as well. Scientists believe that the antioxidants and vitamins from vegetables and fruits help to reduce oxidative stress in the brain and help battle age-related memory issues.[8]

          Learn about the brain foods you should include in your diet: 12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

          10. Play Video Games and Brain Training Apps

          Now here is a fun way to improve memory. Playing video games may not seem the best way to study for an exam, but regular video game playing can actually improve certain memory-associated regions of the brain. Studies have shown that video games helps in total knowledge recall and can reduce dementia risk.[9]

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          Considering the benefits, maybe you can make brain training apps a regular pastime or something to do on your breaks.

          11. Think of the Ways in Which Things Relate to You

          According to a recent research, you can boost your memory considerably by contemplating why the information is important to you.[10] This signals your brain to convert the short-term memories into long-term ones, thus helping you remember effortlessly.

          12. Exercise Regularly

          You might not see this coming, but people who exercise daily, whether it be leisurely walking or long-distance running, have better memories when compared to their counterparts who do no physical activity.[11]

          If you’re really interested in learning how to improve memory, shoot for aerobic exercises to reduce cognitive decline and increase blood flow.

          13. Pay Attention to Essence

          Although practice makes perfect, this might not necessarily be true when it comes to boosting memory. Scientists have found that while repetitive practice could help you in remembering things, you might miss out on the bigger picture.[12]

          Do you remember that one presentation when you memorized everything by heart without giving much thought to it? What happened next? Someone interrupted in the middle, and you were not able to recall information after.

          Thus, rote repetition will not do any good. You need to complement repetition through a proper understanding of the finer details.

          The Bottom Line

          Sharpening your memory is not rocket science. All you need to do is follow the fun and simple ways mentioned above to improve memory, and eat right to boost your brain health!

          For more tips on boosting your memory, check out the following video:

          More on How to Improve Memory

          Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

          Reference

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