Mastering a language comes down to the four language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Even after years of schooling in native languages, people still struggle with some of these skills. Let’s take a look at some tips for practicing each of these skills when learning a new language.

Univetsity research. Pretty woman working home. Girl portrait with book on headReading

Reading is a great way to gain a deeper knowledge of a language. You can take it at a slow pace and research any new word on the spot. While reading you also get the opportunity to see the spellings of words you have only heard before.

A tip for reading is to always have a dictionary handy and read slowly. Do not try to read fast and only grasp the idea of the sentence. Really dissect the sentence and understand every word before moving on. Soon, you will find the speed of your reading increasing. Also, work your way up in the complexity of the content you’re reading. If it’s too hard, take a step back. If you are cruising with no effort, try something harder.

Speaking

Depending on your goals for a second language, speaking and listening may be the skills you’re most interested in. This is the minimum required to go to the area of the language and converse with people. When learning to speak a new language, it’s hard to get the pronunciations and inflections correct.

Once you have a general grasp of a language, practice speaking with a native speaker. When you get hung up on a word or sentence, ask them for help because the time spent conversing with a native speaker is when your language skills will improve quickest.

Listening

Listening is oftentimes difficult because pronunciations and inflections may change depending on where you are. When learning, the language is usually taught in a very slow and clear manner. Native speakers tend to speak much faster with different accents.

Luckily, when you are practicing speaking with a native speaker, you get the chance to listen, as well. If they say something you don’t understand, ask them to repeat it and explain. Watching a TV show in the language you are learning will help improve your listening skills, as well.

Writing

The opinion is split on what the most difficult language skill is, but many people argue it is writing. Writing requires a strong knowledge of the language in order to form grammatically correct sentences. There also is spelling, which, depending on which language you are working with, can have some very counterintuitive instances.

Finding a pen pal who wants to learn your native language is a great way to practice writing. Proofread each other’s writing and suggest improvements. This is also a great way to get to know someone from a different culture.

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