5 Tips for Language Study Abroad by KCP Student Hector Santiago

KCP Fall 2012 student Hector Santiago shares some effective tips on language learning in Japan. Thanks for your wisdom!

Since I’ve been back in the States, I’ve received emails from students going abroad and currently abroad asking for advice in how to survive in Japan, how to meet people and make friends, and so on. Today, a student asked me how to study in Japan to make learning easier.  This made me think back to how much trouble I had when I started learning Japanese, and the methods I developed to help make learning this new language easier. So, without further ado, here are my tips for learning a new language.

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Tip #1 – Take notes

Of course you take notes in class, but when I was abroad,  buy a small pocket notebook to carry around with you at all times. Throughout the day, every time you  hear a word you don’t recognize, wrote it down, find the definition, and studyd it. Doing this will greatly help you increase your vocabulary .

Tip #2 – Drill

This method works for some but not others, depending on one’s preferred style of study. Rote memorization is a useful tool when learning vocabulary. It teaches us to quickly associate a foreign word with its English equivalent. Some teachers may not like this method because they want you to learn to think in that language, but that can be a bit more difficult for students who are not already multilingual.

Tip #3 – Get a partner

Having someone who is more fluent or even a native in the language, who can correct your mistakes and maybe even teach you new ways to remember things, can only benefit you while you’re in a new country. Take advantage of any and all help that is available to you.

Tip #4 – Study often

It’s hard to want to study more than you have to sometimes, but putting forth that extra effort is going to get you extra results. Don’t settle for just passing your classes. Develop a connection with your host country by learning to communicate properly.

Tip #5 – Immerse yourself

This can be much easier said than done for some people. Some may not have the social skills, the confidence, or the desire to completely come outside their comfort zone and be around people they can’t communicate with. However, being in a foreign country, the more exposure you have with the language, the easier it is to pick up. This method may take time, but it definitely helps.

You can also visit Hector’s online travel journal to read about his other study abroad experiences.