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Learn Foreign Language Independently After Classes Are All Over

Learn Foreign LanguageSo, you had foreign language classes in school, but now you've graduated or discontinued classes? You discovered how interesting it can be to learn a new language? and you still want to grow in your new language? Good for you!

But how will you continue learning without your class? Don't despair - here are some possibilities for you. Take a look at them and see which ones are accessible to you.

Here are some suggestions for foreign language students to continue to learn when no more academic courses are available. Some of these methods are expensive, some are inexpensive, and some are free! Most of them will require you to exert deliberate effort, others will come almost as naturally as breathing.

These are somewhat divided into expense categories.

Expensive

language school in your target language's country. There are many to choose from, some good, some bad. One place to find them is through an Internet search, another in ads in international student magazines.

Missions trip. Expensive, yes, but for a good cause. You may find trips advertised through religious, civic, and medical organizations.

Book and CD, CD-ROM, or DVD program . Sometimes these can be found inexpensively, but not often. Do a search of reviews for the product before spending your money to see what other users think of it.

Travel to another country. What a benefit that is in learning a language! There's nothing like immersion and authentic situations.

Hire a professional tutor. Watch for ads in the paper for tutors, or ask your friends at work if they know of anyone.

Guided immersion tour with language-speaking guide and related language attractions.

Exchange student program or au pair opportunity.

Inexpensive

Find language workbooks, flash cards, verb books, dictionaries, travel books, etc. in larger bookstores.

While in a large city, visit an international or foreign language bookstore, restaurant, museum, or other attractions, such as an ethnic parade.

Host a native speaker for a visit.

Subscribe to a language magazine for international speakers. This somewhat more expensive than regular magazine subscriptions.

Buy a familiar book in your new language. The familiarity of the story will help guide you into the words of your new language, kind of like training wheels.

Continue using your school textbook and purchase additional materials available from publisher. they may put out an accompanying CD-ROM as well as a video and other supplies. If you liked the book you used in school, you probably can find an inexpensive used one on the Internet. Start over in the textbook from the beginning. Do every exercise in the book, especially the reading and writing selections. Be thorough and consistent.

Attend events that come to your area that have an international emphasis.

Cheap or Free

Don't let a lot of time pass between language experiences and interactions. You will lose what you have learned if you do.

Find a pen pal who speaks your target language, preferably sharing an e-mail relationship. To do this the free way, do a search on the Internet for pen pal organizations where you can choose a pen pal from an existing list. Don't bother with any services that charge a fee. You can find free ones. One I'd recommend for Spanish learners is called E-Amigos, a group that helps Spanish speakers learn English and English speakers learn Spanish.

Follow the regular lessons on an Internet web page for learning your target language. One I'd highly recommend is from the About.com group: http://www.about.com/

Read the bilingual posters when visiting a public place such as a health clinic, restaurant, or bus station.

Continue chatting with your friends in your target language. Even if you aren't learning any new words that way, you aren't letting yourself get rusty, a very important factor.

Teach what you have learned to someone else, such as a young child or family member. Again, you may not be learning something new, but you will firm concepts up in your mind, and you bring them out and serve others with them.

Visit the library. Find kids' books in your target language, or read about its culture. There are also some great online resources available through your library. Plus, they may have language audio-visual programs you can borrow. Some libraries even schedule bilingual conversation groups.

Cultivate friendships with native speakers of Spanish.

Be encouraged that you may know more target language than you realize. Be willing to try to use what you know, and learn from your mistakes.

Some of the most important qualities you can possess in this area is a willing spirit, confidence, and an open mind. Be willing to exert effort to continue to learn throughout your lifetime, not just spending time with a course to meet a requirement and get a grade. Be open to learning in a way different from what you'd expect or perhaps even choose for yourself. As those situations come up, formal and informal, you may find yourself amazed at how quickly you can learn and grow.

By Diana Nygard - Diana Nygard is an enthusiatic educator who likes teaching ESL, English, Drama, and Spanish, and academic life skills. She enjoys New York City museum visits and international travel.  

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