How do adults learn foreign languages ​​better

And the applications aren’t very innovative, according to educational researcher Torben Schmidt of Leuphana University in Lüneburg along with a US research team. In 2016 they rated 50 most popular language learning business apps for mobile phones. Criticism points: Programs are hardly adapted to the abilities of learners, rarely give explanations for corrections, often vocabulary is presented in isolation, that is, without context. Not a good prerequisite for memorizing them permanently, learning research shows.

This is the best way to learn vocabulary

How to acquire new vocabulary is perhaps the most studied question when it comes to learning a foreign language. The most important consequence: in order to cement the words into the depths of memory, you have to process them deeply. It has already been proven A classic experience from 1975, in which subjects were asked to answer a question about a new word that drew attention either to surface features or to the meaning of the word. For example, when asked if the word was capitalized, only 16 percent remembered the word later, compared to about 90 percent when asked if the word was appropriate for a particular sentence.

So most experts recommend learning new words in the context of a sentence, and even better: in several different words. Preferably in sentences that relate to yourself or have a personal meaning. The old way of learning each word individually has its day. Vocabulary book is also unwise because the words are always in the same order and in the same place. You should also switch the learning situation, otherwise you may not remember the word under different conditions.

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The right time to learn vocabulary

Several studies show that repeating a topic for a certain period of time, known as “spaced repetition,” is more effective in the long run than repeating the same number of times in a row. It helps not only to repeat what you have learned, but to do it recovery from memory (“Effect Test”). And the longer the knowledge stays in your head, the longer you wait to update it.

A team from the University of Mannheim contributed to this Experiences in English classes Found: For the vocabulary test after a week, it was good to review the vocabulary after one day, but for the test after a month, the separation of eleven days was better. for similar results An American study came with more than 1,300 people. They were supposed to learn the facts and were asked about them a year later. The optimal time period here was 20 percent of the time for testing when it was a few weeks and 5 percent of the time when it was a year.

However, it is unclear what it looks like with repetition several times. Should the intervals between sessions become longer? Some evidence supports this, though not everything. Learning software and classic index card systems are usually used increasing periods.

The extent to which pictures aid in vocabulary learning is controversial; Some studies indicate Especially in childrenAnd the others against. Gestures are different: they seem to strengthen the memory of young and old alike. A research team from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig found that people who make the correct movements while learning can better remember vocabulary after six months. However, this is not due to the movement itself, but to Sensory experience of the meaning of the word. Gestures help remember words, especially when they are. visualize the meaning.

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Lots is good, variety is better

The Foreign Service Institute’s encouraging conclusion: Through extensive training, nearly all students will eventually reach their goal. In order to achieve a high level of language proficiency, residency in the country is required for challenging languages ​​such as Chinese and Arabic. Then potential US diplomats learn on the job for a while.

An alternative for those who can afford the so-called immersion camps. Immersion, often translated as immersion, refers to a long stay in a foreign language environment, for example as a student in a bilingual school or as a spouse in the family. For adults, there are so-called immersion camps where they are only allowed to speak the target language, for example at Middlebury College in the US state of Vermont. Immersion is considered the most successful method of language learning, although some experts such as Stephen Krashen limit that he must have a certain basic understanding of the language.

Diving camp that lasts for several weeks may improve speech ability More than a semester abroad. A study in Belgium found that It is difficult for foreign students to speak Flemish after eight months than before; Only in writing they have improved a little. Researchers attributed this, among other things, to the fact that they had no contact with native speakers. Rich input alone is not enough: it requires personal interaction and a sense of belonging.

Synonyms are another way to make necessary connections. For example, a German who wants to improve her English is looking for an English woman who wants to learn German on tandem.net. Then they meet in video chat to take turns speaking one language and another. This ensures a more realistic exchange of phased conversations in the classroom.

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One should practice in as realistic a situation as possible, recommends FSI diplomat Roberts and co-author Kreuz. They warned against “dry water swimming exercises”. Oftentimes, communication works well in class, but less so in real life. Lots is good, variety is better. Especially when it comes to understanding listening.

They also recommend diversity if learning progress falters. Usually it is enough to practice in a different way. And if learning isn’t fun now: stop. Do something completely different. In any case, it is better to practice frequently for a short period of time than once for several hours. Learning a language is neither a sprint nor a marathon – it is a very long journey. Even drilling fanatic Paul Bimslor advised: slow down and have fun.

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