As a lecturer here at Gachon University, I was invited to share my thoughts on how to be a good language learner, an opportunity to pass on some advice to students that I could not refuse. There are three key words that I would like to introduce to you as the main theme of my article; motivation, routine, and efficiency, which I like to, call MORE.< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >
Motivation is often talked about in language learning and for good reason. It is one of the factors which determines who will be successful and who will not. Those who are more intrinsically motivated tend to achieve higher levels of proficiency. Intrinsic motivation is associated with learning because you want to and because you enjoy it. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand (to pass a test or satisfy someone else’s expectations) also plays a part, but tends to be significantly less powerful. For this reason, you must continue to remind yourself of why you want to learn the language and also find a way to enjoy studying it. There are numerous ways to make studying more enjoyable. For instance, you could: join a group/club, read material on a subject that you have an interest in; or perhaps, watch a drama that makes you laugh.
Technology surrounds citizens in the 21st century, and competes for our attention. It has become more and more difficult to find an uninterrupted opportunity to study in our increasingly busy schedules. Maintaining the motivation to study with all of the pressure in our lives is tough. But try we must. Put in the effort to make English a life choice, part of your daily routine, and stick to that regime. Learning a language is not unlike exercising, once you stop, you gradually start to lose it. And just like exercise you have to seek out the type of exercise that suits you. This proves important for maintaining the commitment and enthusiasm required to keep going. Find a time in your daily life where you can put anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour towards language study. This could be your daily commute to school or that time just before you go to bed. Find that opportune moment and make it a regular part of your daily routine. You would be surprised with what you can achieve in committing as little as 40 minutes a day. This is enough time to watch an episode of a favorite drama, read a couple of interesting articles in a newspaper, listen to an intriguing pod cast, read a chapter of a book, listen to a few pop songs, memorize a short word list, watch a TED talk etc. Remember, whatever it is you choose to do in this short time, make certain it is something that you are interested in and enjoy.
Being efficient with time doesn’t just mean using time carefully; it also means studying in an effective manner. It is far better to study 10 new vocabulary words deeply and in context than to attempt memorizing fifty new words with their Korean translations in rote fashion. You can, and ought to make both connections and associations with other words you already know. This will help you to use the word properly. It is much better to watch a drama that (in Krashen’s terms, is ‘comprehensible input’) you can understand most of. It is quite pointless studying materials which do not offer any challenge to you, but at the same time it is a waste of time to study something that is beyond your grasp. For one thing, you will not learn very much and secondly it will dampen your motivation. It is also worth varying what you do so that studying does not become tedious. Variety is the spice of life, so, some days you may want to focus on understanding and other days draw your attention to accuracy. In the case of listening, enjoy the show one day then analyze the script the next. With vocabulary, make word association webs one day then the day after produce sentences with the words you have set out to learn.
Bear in mind that, in order to stay motivated you have to like what you are doing, so be sure to look for ways to enjoy studying. Making study a part of a daily routine helps to form a good study habit which you can continue with into the future. And finally, use this valuable time efficiently. Each of the three themes that form the acronym MORE will help you to achieve just that.
|-Professor Ian Baddon