It seems everyone is always looking for that quick fix when it comes to language study. I’ve definitely been searching for it since I’ve started studying. It seems like in this day and age, we should have some painless way to learn another language. I mean, we can get a cheeseburger in just a few minutes, sometimes seconds, so why not learn a language?
We surely can all remember drudging our way through our high foreign language class. I remember when I first started studying Spanish my freshman year. I was incredibly excited to be learning a new language. This burning desire was quickly extinguished by my Spanish teacher that put us through the ringer with drills and boring material that put me right to sleep.
I’m sure a lot of people have had a similar experience when they first started studying a language. And once you’ve had a taste of that junk, you vow to never do boring language exercises ever again. No more translation, no more verb conjugation drills, none of that boring pencil pushing work. Because let’s face it, USING a language isn’t really about grinding through drills, or is it?
SOME Drills are Useful, but not All
There are some cases where that boring drill work can indeed improve your language skills believe it or not. Yes, it’s hard to believe, even I was once a non-believer in the dying arts of the drills, but hear me out. Some drills can be a big boon to you, but not all drills are created equal.
I’ve already talked about doing more speaking out loud when you study to help practice several skills at once. This simple little drill can do a lot for your studying including just keeping your brain active and focused on the task.
I don’t know about you, but there are many times when I’m listening to something in Japanese and my mind starts to wonder (in English no less) and then I have to snap back to what I’m doing. Talking out loud helps to stop this mind drift from happening and keeps you focused on the task.
Other Useful Drills
Another key drill is doing typing or writing drills. The old fashion way of doing this is to choose a sentence and write it several times on a sheet while saying it aloud. This is suppose to make the task automatic and kind of burn it into your head.
I wouldn’t exactly do it for every possible sentence in your grammar drill book, but if there is a particular grammar point that won’t stay stuck in your head, this drill can stick it in there.
And one that I’ve been starting to do recently is ‘Race the Clock’. This involves reading a particular passage or dialog out loud as fast as you can several times. Time yourself every time you go through it and try to go faster and faster each time.
You might wonder how in the world this is useful, but what it does is actually make the process of forming the words in your mouth automatic, almost instinctual. That way you won’t get chocked up when you go to try to use the language in your speaking. You will be able to confidently use the language.
What are some of the Drills you Rely On?
Everyone has their own particular mix and blend of drills they use to practice a language. What drills have you found to be effective for you? Let me know in the comments below.
Photo by Emilian Robert Vicol