7 ways to prepare for your first day of language school
1. Learn the alphabet
If you’re an absolute beginner at your new language, the first day of school will be a whirlwind of information. So the best way to make the initial process of learning easier is to get familiar with a few basics about the language on your own. As a former English teacher, I would recommend starting with the alphabet and the related pronunciation for that language. If you’re learning languages such as French, Spanish, English, or German, they all use the Latin alphabet, which makes it easier if one of those languages is also your native language.
2. Prepare a notebook to keep track of grammar and vocabulary
You’d be surprised how many of my students came to their first class empty handed, so my second biggest piece of advice is to prepare a notebook specifically for grammar and vocabulary. I noticed a major difference between how quickly students learnt and retained when they took notes vs when they didn’t. I have also always taken notes when learning German, too, especially because the brain retains information much better when we see it, hear it, and write it down. Notes are also useful, because you can use them to study later on. There truly is no downside to note taking!
3. Download a translation app
While apps are in no way comprehensive for learning a language, they can come in handy for translations or support when you need a specific word. Your teacher will be your best translator during class, but outside of class you may need additional support. Here is a list of offline translation apps to help get you started.
4. Learn basic vocabulary
Another bit of starter language you can learn on your own are basic nouns and phrases. Even for A1 classes, the teacher will likely begin with introducing themselves and asking you to introduce yourself. Knowing how to do this beforehand makes those first few minutes 10x easier (and majorly less stressful for you).
Other examples include:
- Terms for people (friend, partner, etc.)
- Job titles
Overall, learning only a small foundation for the language you want to learn in advance of your first language class brings you leaps and bounds forward in a short period of time. Plus, you’ll also be majorly less confused when your teacher starts talking in that language!
5. Consider your goals
You’re learning that language for a particular reason, right? So, it makes sense then that you create goals that are specific to that core reason in order to keep yourself motivated and track your progress.
If you’re learning a new language with Lingoda, there are two ways you can focus your language learning based on particular goals: class topics and CEFR levels. CEFR levels categorise language capability from A1 (beginner) to C2 (native speaker or equivalent). When you schedule Lingoda classes, you can select filters for certain CEFR levels to make sure you’re learning at the appropriate level.
Lingoda also lists classes based on particular topics, including grammar, writing, cultural issues, business-related, philosophy, and more. For example, if you’re learning Business English, then you can choose classes that focus on topics specifically for Business English learners.
6. Set up your technology
Many of us opt for online language courses, because it enables us to remain highly flexible. With Lingoda, you can learn 100% online and schedule classes anytime it suits you. But before you begin, you need to make sure that you have the correct supporting technology and that it works properly. This involves getting a high quality webcam and headset (or headphones). Before each Lingoda class, you have the option to test whether your setup is functioning, which helps avoid precious class time being lost to technical difficulties.
7. Prepare your mindset
Last but certainly not least, you need to prepare your mindset. As with any new skill you want to learn, it also takes consistent practice to become fluent in a new language. You’ll absolutely run into obstacles, say ridiculous things, and even have amazing “aha” moments where everything becomes clear. It’s all part of the learning process, so remember to always be patient with yourself and don’t take it personally when your teacher corrects you. We ALL make mistakes with languages, even native speakers! The key point is that you keep your chin up and keep moving forward. Maintain this mindset and you’ll soon find that you’ve mastered the language!
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