How to be a good language learner

This page is an introduction to other pages on the website that have information and advice on all aspects of learning a new language.

The pages on this site contain many suggestions on how to learn a new language quickly and effectively. But probably the most important piece of advice can be summarized in one word: Reflect.

By this I mean simply that you think about your learning; that you come to understand your own strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes. If you find something difficult, you ask yourself why and try to find ways to do better next time.

If you always seem to get low scores in vocabulary tests, you analyse your methods of studying words. If you don't like to study grammar in grammar books, you find some other method of learning the rules of the language.

@ An excellent way to reflect on your learning is to keep a language journal in which you write about your daily experiences in learning English. ~ Click the button below for suggestions.

A very good way to improve your English and succeed in your subject classes is to write a reflective journal once or twice a week. A reflective journal is one in which you write your thoughts on different aspects of learning English or other subjects. For example you could write about the following things:

  • a time in subject class when you felt really good about yourself
  • a time in subject class that you felt embarrassed because of your lack of English
  • a task or piece of work that you found very hard and why
  • subjects you find difficult or teachers you find difficult to understand
  • your thoughts about homework, quizzes and tests
  • what you think about grades for ESL students
  • what it feels like to be an ESL student in school
  • how your new school is different from your last one
  • what you do to try and improve your four language skills
  • ways that you have of learning vocabulary and grammar
  • what you find most difficult about learning English
  • suggestions for ESL lesson activities

You could also write about general things such as:

  • your family
  • your hobbies and after-school or weekend activities
  • trips you go on with your family or friends
  • holidays
  • birthdays
  • books you have read
  • films you have seen
  • a comparison of Germany and your country
  • your thoughts on school and how things are done
  • your reactions to events in the news
  • your thoughts on controversial topics

Writing in a journal is a really good opportunity for you to take risks with your language and try to extend yourself. It is an enjoyable way to get better in English quickly. If you read it again a year later, you will be surprised how much progress you have made.

A good way to use the study notes on this website is to first reflect on (and maybe write down) your own strategies in listening, learning vocabulary, etc. Then you can read the notes in the following pages on this site and compare what you do with the advice given there.

If you don't know how to start, just look at the sub-headings within the note pages. These may give you a good idea of the different issues connected with the particular topic.

@@ Remember that everyone has their own learning style. So if you do something different and it works well for you, don't feel you have to follow the advice given in the notes pages. ~~

One more thing. Perhaps you have a learning strategy that is very successful for you but is not suggested in the notes. I'd be very pleased to hear from you what it is. You can send me an e-mail via the Contact link below.

More on the qualities of a good language learner