Everybody learns a language differently. Some will rely more on rote memorization while others thrive by surrounding themselves with it. Some learn better visually, while others absorb information better audibly. However, regardless of your learning style, there are a couple of ways you can improve or even prepare yourself for an intensive language learning process before even starting.
Instead of trying to learn the words as soon as possible, you should try to become comfortable with the language and the culture. You will almost always find that there is a symbiotic relationship between the two. Our language dictates our culture and vice versa. It is for this reason that the Defense Language Institute
will spend so much time in preparing the student for understanding their Language’s culture and the history of its people.
So, you first step in preparing for a course or a language lesson is to just get familiar with the language as best as you can. Here are a couple of free and even techy ways you can go about getting used to the language in some fun creative ways:
#5. Go to an Authentic Restaurant of that Particular Language:
Most cities will have an authentic restaurant of some sort – as long as you live a populated city and are looking at a common language. Here you will be able to test their cuisine and in some cases even experience the way they eat.
#4. Download a Language Radio App:
On iTunes or any other mobile device app store, you can find free Radio apps for your particular country. These apps tap into an online feed that sends real time radio broadcasts to the app so that you can hear what music or news is being discussed in that area of the world. Although it might not make sense to you, it is very interesting to hear the ‘way’ they converse or just to hear what is popular in their music industry. My favorite is when you find a radio station that plays American music and tries to teach their listeners English. You will find these in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese radio where there is a big push for English listening.
#3. Rent, Buy or Stream and Film from that Area:
Let’s face it, every country has their own version of a ‘happy ending.’ In some countries, only through suffrage, can the main character be a hero. In others, self-sacrifice is essential. But regardless of the nation, watching a movie in that language is just another entertaining way to get accustomed to the language itself without ever cracking open a book.
#2. Check Out A Language Exchange Website:
There are TONS of websites out there for foreign students to practice their English. In most cases, you can have a Web Pal (the new age version of a Pen Pal) and typically you will both take time to practice in each other’s language. However, in your initial case, you won’t be able to speak their language. So, this way, you can get them to use their English skills and talk about their country, customs and habits. This will not only help them in their pursuit towards mastering English, but will also help you to have a direct resource to understand and improve your language when the time comes.
#1. Pimsleur CDs:
I can’t say enough about this program. I bought a 3 CD set before I entered DLI and it did wonders for me. By the time I was finished with the program, I wasn’t fluent – far from it – but I did develop a natural accent and could speak the words better than any of my class. My DLI teachers actually thought I had a fluency level when I nailed every word right away. While people were struggling to pronounce a new letter or sound, I was moving on and flowing perfectly.
I got started on Pimsleur because a Special Forces buddy told me that they were given a cd of pimsleur before they went into an area on a mission. He said that it helped to mask their American accents and thus help hide their identity a little. Well that was enough for me.
It is important that you start you first class at DLI on the right foot. Don’t try to get ahead of the class and learn words because they will quickly surpass you and your time will have been wasted. Instead, get familiar with the words, sounds and culture. Developing this backbone will ultimately help you build a strong foundation in which to receive the oncoming storm of vocab that DLI is famous for.