Foreign Language classes are kind of difficult, but they are a must-have if you plan on graduating with any Bachelor of Arts degree. If you are like me and taking the exact amount needed to get a BA, this will hopefully help you. I can’t speak the same for people who plan to major or minor in a foreign language because you probably have more knowledge of a language in your pinky than I have in my entire hand (if that makes any sense at all.)
Before College Tips
Here are some tips to give yourself the extra push before you even get to college.
Take Foreign Language In High School
Seriously I don’t know how much this has been helping me. I am re-learning things I already knew in high school throughout my semesters in Spanish. It has been beneficial because I know a lot of the vocabulary already.
Take The Foreign Language, And Take It Seriously
Don’t just goof off. Pay attention because eventually, you may need the skills it taught you later.
Work On Your Writing Skills
It’s strange. We were never really taught how to put sentences together in college. In high school, we wrote every day, but in college, it’s mostly learning about parts of the sentence, and then you're expected to know how to put it all together. It’s hard to explain, but make sure you are writing.
Work On Your Listening And Reading Comprehension Skills
Your language teachers will probably talk mostly in that language throughout the class period, so make sure you can follow along or at least get the gist of it. They will also speak in the normal language too, but it’s nice to know what they say the first time instead of having a blank look on your face.
During College Tips
Once you get into college, here are some more tips on the actual foreign language courses.
Stay The Course
I know you may want to experiment with Mandarin Chinese after taking two years of Spanish in high school. You may have heard Mandarin is a good language to learn, but don’t be (for lack of a better word) stupid. If you took Spanish in high school, at least stay with languages in the same family, such as French. Don’t completely abandon the language you took, especially if you are trying to earn a BA. You want easy grades, not really difficult ones.
Buy The Book
Foreign Language books are one of those books you can’t afford not to buy. For one, I know that I use my Spanish book every day in class. For two, there are too many examples you will be missing out on if you don’t buy it. Buying the book will make your foreign language experience much easier.
Flashcards work wonders. Quiz yourself every day to make sure you know not only vocabulary but grammar and sentence structure. Tests usually consist of listening, vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension, and writing. You must brush up on all that stuff when studying.
Try to study after every class to make sure that you are learning and understanding what the teacher taught that day. Once you have the basics down it can be really easy to infer and guess as you come across new material. This is why you should study as you go, so you don't miss any of the foundational material.
Go To Class
Foreign language classes are not the classes to skip unless you are super sick. You need to go to class to turn in homework, listen to the teacher speak, get clues about what the tests will consist of, et cetera. If you could skip any class, please try to keep this one to a minimum!
Ask For Help
Sometimes any professor can get rushed if they believe everyone is working on the same level field. I think that foreign language teachers are way more helpful at explaining things if you need help. Don’t be afraid to stop the teacher and ask for clarification if they move a bit too fast. They should understand that you are learning a new language, so you may need a few extra examples sometimes.
You can also ask for help from classmates. When I was taking foreign language classes in college, we were all struggling together. Don't be afraid to make friends in your foreign language classes. It helps to have someone to bounce ideas off of, speak with, and learn the material with.
Don’t Hold Back
You may be asked to do any amount of odd and strange things for your Spanish class. Such as a lot of practice speaking with other students, doing skits in front of the class, and even playing charades with your classmates. Foreign language classes are the kind of classes that don’t really let you slack off. You need to be able to be a little bit outgoing in some classes. Whether that’s approaching a person to partner with or going up in front of the class and speaking in Spanish.
These are my tips for surviving a foreign language class. I hope you high schoolers, incoming freshmen, and even upperclassmen benefited from this blog.