David Topolewski is the CEO of Qooco, which uses cloud computing to provide English and Mandarin language instruction. Below, Topolewski provides additional tips for language learners to help them make the most of their studies.
Think in Your New Language
We have a tendency to think in our native language, but this proves ineffective when trying to learn a new language. Instead of continuously translating in your mind—something that can be counterproductive, because many phrases and ideas cannot be translated verbatim—try to assemble your thoughts in the language you’re studying. You won’t be able to “think through” very complex ideas at first, but this practice will dramatically improve your fluency and ability to hold a conversation.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Plenty of Mistakes
Many language learners hold themselves back because they are afraid to say anything wrong. But if you insist on saying everything perfectly the first time, you will never be able to say anything at all. The more you speak the language, the easier it will become, and others will help you correct your mistakes.
Break Assignments into Smaller Tasks
To avoid feeling overwhelmed, break up your studying into smaller segments. It’s important to learn new concepts in small, digestible steps. Therefore, instead of staring at a 50-word vocabulary list, focus on a subset of 5 words. Place them in context and form new sentences, then move on. As you add new words or ideas, combine them with old ones so that you are continually practicing.
Apply Your Knowledge
When you learn a new skill, phrase, tense, or set of vocabulary, attempt to combine it with other things you already know. Not only will you remember the information better, but you will become more proficient in the language.