Learning Writing Systems (Part 2)

 

Association

Try to associate the shapes of letters with familiar objects: some letters may look like letters or numerals in your own alphabet, others may remind you of animals, objects or people.

 

Practice

Practice writing the letters as often as possible. Learning the standard way to form the letters: i.e. the shape, direction and order of strokes, will help you to memorise them, improve your handwriting and to read other people’s handwriting.

 

Transliteration

Practice writing things in the new alphabet then transliterating them into your own alphabet. Then try transliterating them back into the new alphabet. Also try writing your own language in the new alphabet.

Learning Writing Systems (Part 1)

Learning a new alphabet, syllabary or other writing system can be tricky. The difficulty of this task depends on the complexity of the writing system you’re trying to learn. If the language you’re learning is written with a different alphabet or other type of writing system, learning it is well worth the effort. Some alphabets, such as Cyrillic and Greek, are relatively easy to learn as they are similar to the Latin alphabet. Others, such as Devanagari and Thai, are a more challenging.

 

A little at a time

Learn the letters or symbols a few at a time rather than all in one go. Pay particular attention to letters with a similar appearance and to ‘false friends’, which look like letters you already know but are not the same.

For example, in Russian the following letters look like English letters but are pronounced differently: B = [v], H = [n], C = [s] and P = [r]. So now you should have no difficulty deciphering the Russian word PECTOPAH – it means restaurant and can be transliterated as RESTORAN.

Learning Writing Systems (Part 1)

Learning a new alphabet, syllabary or other writing system can be tricky. The difficulty of this task depends on the complexity of the writing system you’re trying to learn. If the language you’re learning is written with a different alphabet or other type of writing system, learning it is well worth the effort. Some alphabets, such as Cyrillic and Greek, are relatively easy to learn as they are similar to the Latin alphabet. Others, such as Devanagari and Thai, are a more challenging.

 

A little at a time

Learn the letters or symbols a few at a time rather than all in one go. Pay particular attention to letters with a similar appearance and to ‘false friends’, which look like letters you already know but are not the same.

For example, in Russian the following letters look like English letters but are pronounced differently: B = [v], H = [n], C = [s] and P = [r]. So now you should have no difficulty deciphering the Russian word PECTOPAH – it means restaurant and can be transliterated as RESTORAN.

Learning grammar (Part 3)

Word order

Learning to arrange the words in the correct order is probably one of the most important and useful things you’ll learn after pronunciation and vocabulary. If you manage to use the right words in the right order you should be understood even if you cannot remember all the necessary grammatical endings. Arranging the words of your native language in the same way as the target language will help you to understand how the new language works.

Gender

Many languages divide nouns into different genders. English has the remnants of a three gender system which determines the choice of pronoun (he, she, it, his, hers, its, etc) and is usually related to the sex. In French, Spanish and Italian nouns are either masculine and feminine. In German there are three genders masculine, feminine and neuter. The way genders are assigned to nouns is largely arbitrary. In Italian it’s easy to determine the gender of a noun: if it ends in ‘o’ it’s masculine, if it ends in ‘a’ it’s feminine, but if it ends in ‘e’ it could be either. In other languages there are a few rules you can use to determine gender, usually based on the endings of the nouns, but there are many exceptions to these rules. We can show you various strategies to come to terms with the gender system of the language that you are studying.  

Learning grammar (Part 3)

Word order

Learning to arrange the words in the correct order is probably one of the most important and useful things you’ll learn after pronunciation and vocabulary. If you manage to use the right words in the right order you should be understood even if you cannot remember all the necessary grammatical endings. Arranging the words of your native language in the same way as the target language will help you to understand how the new language works.

Gender

Many languages divide nouns into different genders. English has the remnants of a three gender system which determines the choice of pronoun (he, she, it, his, hers, its, etc) and is usually related to the sex. In French, Spanish and Italian nouns are either masculine and feminine. In German there are three genders masculine, feminine and neuter. The way genders are assigned to nouns is largely arbitrary. In Italian it’s easy to determine the gender of a noun: if it ends in ‘o’ it’s masculine, if it ends in ‘a’ it’s feminine, but if it ends in ‘e’ it could be either. In other languages there are a few rules you can use to determine gender, usually based on the endings of the nouns, but there are many exceptions to these rules. We can show you various strategies to come to terms with the gender system of the language that you are studying.  

Learning grammar (Part 2)

Learning grammar (Part 2)

Learning the grammar of a language will enable you understand how sentences are constructed and to construct your own sentences. Without a knowledge of grammar all you can do is learn individual words and phrases. No two languages have exactly the same grammatical structure, so the knowledge of your native language or other languages you know may help, but will never be enough. You don’t have to have an overt knowledge of the grammar or grammatical terminology of a language in order to speak it, as long as you can use the grammar effectively.

Regular and irregular patterns

All languages have regular and irregular grammatical patterns and it’s generally easier to learn the grammar of languages with few irregularities, such as Finnish, Turkish and Japanese, than those with more irregular grammar, such as English or Greek.

Focus on learning the regular grammatical patterns and look/listen out for examples of them when reading or listening to the language. Also look out for regular constructions in the language and try to guess what they mean from the context. If that fails, look them up or ask somebody. Practice using what you learn as often as possible.

You will probably be understood if you apply regular grammatical patterns to all relevant words, even the ones that would normally behave irregularly. However it is often the most frequently-used verbs, such as the verbs to be, to have or to do, which behave irregularly so you will need to learn some irregular grammatical constructions.

Learning grammar (Part 2)

Learning grammar (Part 2)

Learning the grammar of a language will enable you understand how sentences are constructed and to construct your own sentences. Without a knowledge of grammar all you can do is learn individual words and phrases. No two languages have exactly the same grammatical structure, so the knowledge of your native language or other languages you know may help, but will never be enough. You don’t have to have an overt knowledge of the grammar or grammatical terminology of a language in order to speak it, as long as you can use the grammar effectively.

Regular and irregular patterns

All languages have regular and irregular grammatical patterns and it’s generally easier to learn the grammar of languages with few irregularities, such as Finnish, Turkish and Japanese, than those with more irregular grammar, such as English or Greek.

Focus on learning the regular grammatical patterns and look/listen out for examples of them when reading or listening to the language. Also look out for regular constructions in the language and try to guess what they mean from the context. If that fails, look them up or ask somebody. Practice using what you learn as often as possible.

You will probably be understood if you apply regular grammatical patterns to all relevant words, even the ones that would normally behave irregularly. However it is often the most frequently-used verbs, such as the verbs to be, to have or to do, which behave irregularly so you will need to learn some irregular grammatical constructions.

Learning grammar (Part 1)

Learning grammar (Part 1)

Familiarity with the grammar of a language enables you to understand it, and also to construct your own phrases and sentences. It’s not essential to know all the grammatical terminology or to understand why words change, as long as you’re able to apply to relevant changes when necessary. Although most language learners feel that this is the most important and difficult part of learning a language, we learn grammar automatically through exposure.

Learning Grammar “Automatically”

An alternative way to acquire an ability to use grammar is to learn lots of sentences from as many different sources as possible. You will absorb the grammatical patterns and vocabulary from the sentences without making a conscious effort to learn them. You also learn these things in context, which shows their usage.

Shape shifting

In many languages nouns, adjectives and other words can change in various ways to indicate their role in a sentence. Verbs can change to indicate who is performing the action (person), how many people are involved (number) and when the action is taking place (tense). Some languages make further distinctions, while in others words don’t change at all. One way to get used to the shape shifting is to take a sentence or longer text in the target language and to practise changing the tense, number and person. After a lot of practice, you’ll be able to manipulate the grammar without having to stop and think about it all time. If you find yourself stumbling over particular tenses or other patterns, focus particularly on them.

Learning grammar (Part 1)

Learning grammar (Part 1)

Familiarity with the grammar of a language enables you to understand it, and also to construct your own phrases and sentences. It’s not essential to know all the grammatical terminology or to understand why words change, as long as you’re able to apply to relevant changes when necessary. Although most language learners feel that this is the most important and difficult part of learning a language, we learn grammar automatically through exposure.

Learning Grammar “Automatically”

An alternative way to acquire an ability to use grammar is to learn lots of sentences from as many different sources as possible. You will absorb the grammatical patterns and vocabulary from the sentences without making a conscious effort to learn them. You also learn these things in context, which shows their usage.

Shape shifting

In many languages nouns, adjectives and other words can change in various ways to indicate their role in a sentence. Verbs can change to indicate who is performing the action (person), how many people are involved (number) and when the action is taking place (tense). Some languages make further distinctions, while in others words don’t change at all. One way to get used to the shape shifting is to take a sentence or longer text in the target language and to practise changing the tense, number and person. After a lot of practice, you’ll be able to manipulate the grammar without having to stop and think about it all time. If you find yourself stumbling over particular tenses or other patterns, focus particularly on them.

Learning Vocabulary – strategies (Part 4)

Translation

As your knowledge of the new language improves, using a monolingual dictionary is a good idea. This helps you to understand words through their meaning rather than relying on translations into your language.

Practice reading as much as possible

A great way to build up your vocabulary is to have a go at reading books, magazines, newspapers or comics. It is best to look for reading material covering topics you find interesting. When reading, try to guess the meanings of any words you don’t know and then check them in a dictionary to see if your guesses were correct. You don’t have to look up every unfamiliar word as long as you can get the gist of the text.