Language learning tips

6 Steps To Effective Self-Learning

For those who are conditioned to think that learning only happens in a classroom, the world of self-learning can be a little daunting. How do we best take advantage these new opportunities.

1. Get interested

Make no mistake. Your interest in the subject is the essential driver of success. You can’t learn what you do not want to learn. Emotion is an important part of the learning process. If you are even moderately interested in a subject, give yourself  a chance. The key is to get started. If you can create some pleasurable routines, you may find that the subject grows on you. “L’appetit vient en mangeant” (the appetite comes with eating) as they say in French.

2. Expect problems and you won’t be disappointed.

Don’t expect to understand things, much less remember them, the first time you study them. Trust that things will get clearer as your brain comes to grips with new information. It is like a jig-saw puzzle or a cross-word puzzle. As you start to put the pieces together, or string the words together, the full picture becomes clearer. The brain learns all the time, but on its own schedule. Learning does not take place according to a schedule laid down by a curriculum or teacher. Some things are easier to learn than others. Some things just take longer to click in. Keep at it, and you will gradually find that things that seem difficult at first, will become second nature with time.

3. Cover the same ground from different angles.

Your brain is struggling to form patterns to cope with new input from your learning activities. Sometimes, no matter how long you focus on one subject, your brain is not going to pick it up. If you are stuck, move on. Then cover the same general information from a different source, a different book, or a podcast, or an online lecture or a video. Try to become a grazing learner, roaming the countryside, rather than a feedlot learner, just standing there in one spot, munching on the same bale of hay. The broader your base, the easier it is to learn. Just as the “rich get richer”, the more you know, the more you can learn.

4. Anytime is learning time.

Take full advantage of the Internet, iTunes, and various mobile devices, not to mention good old-fashioned books and magazines. Learn during “dead time”. Listen in your car, on the train, or while jogging. Have your learning with you while waiting in the doctor’s office, or listen while checking out at the supermarket. Anytime is learning time. Remember, you are learning through exposure, not by nailing things down. It is more like moisture accumulation in a cloud, rather than building a brick wall.

5. Be a multimedia learner.

The more varied your learning content, and the more varied the ways in which you learn, the clearer the puzzle will become. Different learning activities suit different people, at different times of the day. Vary your activities in order to keep your interest level up. Even if listening and reading work best for you, treat yourself to the odd video lecture, or get-together with other learners. This will renew your batteries.

6. Join learning communities.

The “loneliness of the distance learner” is a thing of the past. Join a learning community on the web, where members share their knowledge and experience. Search for the communities that suit your interests and learning style. You will find encouragement, advice and stimulus from fellow learners, as well as from tutors, teachers and coaches. In these communities, you can measure your progress against your own goals, or compare your experience with that of other learners. You can even teach and help others, which is a great way to learn.

Never has it been easier nor more exciting to be a learner. Let constant learning be a major part of your life-style. The rewards will be constant, personally, socially, and professionally.


Tips on staying motivated – meet Tamie!

Want to know what other students do to stay on track and succeed in their language learning? Read the below article for some ideas and tips from an actual LRDG learner who studied French. Please note that some details have been removed in order to protect the learner’s identity.  If you want to share your story with other learners, make sure to send us a quick email with your language journey!


Tip of the week:Need to make a grocery list? Write it in French! J’ai besoin d’œufs, du lait, du beurre, des pommes de terre, etc.

How to maximize your self-study portion of the LRDG language training program

  • Think about your best proven learning techniques and then apply them.
    One of the main qualities of this program is that you are your own boss. If for example, writing everything down is what works best for you, then by all means do so.
  • Be structured and organized
    Buy yourself a notebook, or binder, and write down your notes without forgetting to date them. As you progress with your language training, go back and consult pages regularly to review. You will know where to find needed information without having to hunt down hastily scribbled down notes on loose paper.
  • When learning new vocabulary, put it proper context and try to use it.
    Create sentences.
  • Practice your conjugation
    especially the tenses that you are learning in current module.
  • Fix yourself daily, realistic objectives and realize them.
  • Listen to and watch the video of current module at least once a day.
    You’ll realize that each time you do so, you will gain a more complete understanding because you are adding to your vocabulary on a daily basis.
  • Make good use of free French communication sources such as:
    • Radio-Canada, television and radio,
    • Internet sites (your tutor can provide with some goods and pertinent ones),
    • Talking to somebody at work or outside of work who speaks French,
    • Go see some movies in French. Or again, watch your favourite DVDs in French,
  • Read some easy books or articles in French
    once you have good basic knowledge in French. Make sure that reading material is interesting, easy to read, and not too long.
  • Read our blog regularly
    and try to do all the additional exercises. They will help you improve your comprehension and expand your vocabulary.
  • Persevere
    even if some days prove to be more challenging. Discuss these challenges with your tutor and the LRDG pedagogue, if needed.
  • Do not try to move faster than the current module.
    Your learning will not progress faster. It could even have the opposite effect and slow down your language acquisition.
  • And most importantly, have fun! Find ways to make language learning fun. This could involve songs, games, stories, jokes and anything else you can think of.