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Second-Language Learning: Tips, Strategies & Techniques

written by: Bright Hub Education Writer • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 1/30/2013

Learn the essential how-to's and WHYs of acquiring your second useful language. Here you'll consider the benefits of applied language-learning techniques...This article is first in a series.

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    Basics For This Series

    Second language here means a consciously-chosen language in addition to one's mother tongue, and intended for practical, real-world use on a frequent if not day-to-day basis. Your 'second language' could be learned to allow you to better serve and meet refugees in a border camp, non-English speakers in your own town, a small enclave of immigrants near you or the general citizens of an area you intend to relocate to and work in, soon.

    This use of 'second language' is what we'll use here, a language that you do not know now, but are going to wrestle with, beat over the head with idiomatic mistakes and use in real-world situations, sweaty and grinning; so let's roll up our sleeves and jump into these techniques, these language-learning strategies and these tips-from-experience. (If you're thinking of learning a language to impress the toffs at the Uptown Snobbe's Monthly Bridge Meet, these might still help but that might not be enough of a motivator to take you to real success!)

    This first article lays the groundwork by introducing the Six Basics, and we're not talking about Aural, Oral, Reading and Writing. Those are the basics of a language, but this article focuses on the 6 Basic Learning Strategies, as follows.

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    Six Basic Learning Methods (strategies) for learning ANY language fall into two major categories: Direct Efforts and Indirect Efforts. The Direct Methods further break out into Cognitive Coolness, Memory Methods and Compensation Clues. The Indirect Strategies encompass Social Strategies, Meta-cognitive Methods and Affective Efforts.

    Oh, WOW! Those are some big words, maybe I'd better tackle another task--NO! These are easily understood, and you'll get them in a moment as you learn what they are in the real second language learning world.

    1. Cognitive Coolness is any of the direct, consciously-controllable actions at your call: Practicing, Analyzing and Reasoning, Sending and Receiving content and Creating framework for input and output.

    2. Memory Methods include Applying Images & Sounds, Creating Mental Links, Reviewing Well and Using Action.

    3. Compensating Clues includes Guessing Intelligently and Outwitting your speaking and listening limitations.

    4. Social Strategies look like Cooperating with others, Asking questions and Empathizing with others.

    5. Meta-Cognitive Methods mean Internalizing your learning, Planning and Arranging your learning and Evaluating your learning; your progress.

    6. Affective Accessories are the emotional heartbeat of your living second language efforts, including Reducing your anxiety, Taking your emotional temperature and Encouraging yourself throughout your efforts.

    There they are, and my last 42 years of language-learning efforts (English, Korean and Thai) have convinced me that they cover the gamut, the panoply if you please, of Second-Language learning options.

    So off you go, jump to Article One: Cognitive Coolness, if you're a methodical type, or jump to whichever of the next six catches your eye! You know your needs better than do I.

    Good learning! Your second language provides a doorway to you, through which you can step to meet some of the most wonderful people in the world!