45 votes
Accepted

How can I prevent myself from forgetting a language?

Speak to yourself! Narrate yourself as you do housework, as you drive, etc. Speak your thoughts out loud. When I'm alone, I'll converse with myself in Spanish. Depending on how good your imagination ...
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  • 4,865
34 votes
Accepted

What are the drawbacks to Duolingo?

This is basically a summary of what this website has to say. You are not exposed to natural sounding conversations and sentences (at least, not until very much later as you reach more advanced ...
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  • 8,937
27 votes
Accepted

How can I verify my pronunciation without a native speaker?

Using a voice recorder to record your interaction with a native speaker provides feedback for yourself throughout the week when you do not have him/her with you. If you are proficient in the IPA, make ...
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  • 1,841
26 votes
Accepted

Can listening to music (lyrics) help increase listening skill?

Definitely! Listening to music lyrics is a great help when learning a language! Understanding Words When native speakers speak, they speak quickly with little break between words. For example, if I ...
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  • 1,058
19 votes

How can I verify my pronunciation without a native speaker?

For individual words, you could try forvo.com - record yourself saying the word, and compare that with the pronunciation on the site. Phrases and intonation for whole sentences is much more difficult....
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  • 725
19 votes
Accepted

When using flashcards, should the word or the definition be hidden?

They cannot be compared directly, as they are used for entirely different skills. When you hide a word, and show only the definition, you are testing your ability to recall. I have a concept in ...
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  • 5,032
19 votes
Accepted

How can watching movies help improve fluency and listening skill?

What is beneficial is watching movies with subtitles in the original language of the movie. So if you're, let's say American, you will watch a French movie with the French subtitles, that is to say in ...
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  • 1,439
18 votes
Accepted

How does learning vocabulary through sentences compare to learning with words alone?

It's usually best to avoid dichotomies like "Is strategy X better or strategy Y better?". In most cases, strategies are not mutually exclusive but complementary. With vocabulary learning, using ...
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  • 1,817
17 votes
Accepted

Is doing a huge amount of grammar exercises helpful for learning English?

I will tackle this questions in two steps: first, findings by researchers and teachers, then an alternative approach. Grammar Instruction in Isolation Is Not Effective In 1974, E. Hatch ("Second ...
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  • 19.2k
17 votes

What are the drawbacks to Duolingo?

Except for the issues already mentioned in the other answers, a big problem of Duolingo is that by grouping words in 'semantic clusters' (e.g. ANIMALS: elephant, lion, snake, horse, cow, mouse, spider ...
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  • 767
16 votes

How can I avoid learning an incorrect pronunciation due to a word's spelling?

A straightforward way is to learn the words in a way where you not only see the word but also hear the word. When learning new words with Anki, AwesomeTTS can automatically generate an audio-file with ...
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  • 824
16 votes

What research is there on the efficiency of online language learning compared to in person learning?

Not restricting it to Duolingo et al. specifically the name of this research field is CALL (computer assisted language learning). There's at least two major journals devoted to this in all of its ...
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  • 492
16 votes
Accepted

Does writing out by hand generally strengthen retention better than computerized memorization methods?

Yes. As seen in this article (though not primarily about linguistics), it promptly states: Some neuroscientists are not so sure. They think that giving up handwriting will affect how future ...
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  • 5,198
16 votes

Tips on raising bilingual children

Your first question The best gift you can give your child is for your wife to speak in Russian, and for you to speak in English. I speak by experience. During the first 4 years of my daughter's life,...
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  • 261
15 votes
Accepted

How to remember words and improve my vocabulary

Each person has a different way of storing information in their brain. You have to find a technique that works best for you. Some that you can try include: Notebook: for some people, maintaining and ...
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14 votes
Accepted

When learning a foreign language, should one focus on vocabulary or grammar first?

Transparent Language published a white paper entitled "The Five Principles of Effective Second Language Acquisition". In this, they state that there has been a shift towards learning a large amount ...
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14 votes
Accepted

What are the advantages of a paper dictionary over an online dictionary?

It takes much more time to find the translation in a paper dictionary than in a digital dictionary. So, your subconscious could "think": "It took so much time to find the meaning of that word - it ...
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  • 392
14 votes
Accepted

How can I avoid confusion or interference when studying two similar languages?

If your mind is having trouble with the differences between similar terms, differentiate them by learning them in a separate context. If you race cars, you might not have trouble driving normally, ...
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  • 978
13 votes

Which of these is more effective: having a silent period, or speaking from day one?

"The Five Principles of Effective Second Language Acquisition" by Transparent Language states that students who have a silent period in which they absorb vocabulary and observe the language are much ...
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13 votes

Is doing a huge amount of grammar exercises helpful for learning English?

It all depends on the person. I have a student who feels comfortable doing grammatical exercises, as those are reasonably clear-cut, compared to, say, writing or speaking. Grammar exercises are almost ...
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  • 725
13 votes
Accepted

How can you verify your grammar during self-study?

The quest for learning grammar is a valiant one, and it is not only difficult, but everybody is going to learn grammar differently. Thus, it's well-nigh impossible to write an exhaustive answer here. ...
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  • 4,865
13 votes

How can I stop/prevent conversations from switching to English?

First, let them speak English when they switch - but keep speaking the language you're learning confidently. They may switch back to the other language, once they realize you are happy using that ...
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  • 1,817
13 votes
Accepted

Is the “T-Coding Method” a reliable method to learn vocabulary?

I think this method is better known as the "keyword method" or the "keyword mnemonic". The technique was introduced by Richard C. Atkinson's 1975 article Mnemotechnics in Second Language Learning. ...
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  • 19.2k
13 votes

How to remember words and improve my vocabulary

In addition to J. Siebeneichler's answer, using the language yourself is often a good way to solidify things in your brain. One way you can do that is to try to blog at a site like lang-8 where ...
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  • 231
12 votes
Accepted

What are effective ways to memorize sign languages?

When I was learning ASL, I found that signing along to tv shows and videos allowed me to develop the muscle memory. Because many words (in ASL) do not have "official" signs for them, practicing ...
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  • 1,841
12 votes

How can I prevent myself from forgetting a language?

Even if you don't have the time to actively study a language, a little upkeep can go a long way. It can be beneficial to recognize you're not studying actively for now, and decide not to study grammar,...
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  • 1,817
12 votes

Ups and Downs of learning from non-native speaker rather than native speaker

Generally learning from native speakers is better. The best study for this conclusion is the simple fact that almost all people know their native language best and almost all of those people learned ...
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  • 1,661
12 votes

How can gamification improve language learning?

By far, the most important impact gamification has on any activity, including language learning, is to increase one's attention span. By making mundane tasks into games (from cleaning a child's room,...
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  • 5,032
12 votes

What are the advantages of a paper dictionary over an online dictionary?

The advantage of an online dictionary is pretty clear: fast lookup, more information and media for an entry, always updated, zero weight, sharable, free. In fact, for the purpose of looking up a word ...
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  • 910
12 votes

How can I differentiate similar characters in languages with large character sets?

1. Don't learn similar characters together. According to interference theory in Psychology, learning similar things together can cause those items to interfere with each other in your memory. So when ...
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  • 1,817

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