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Expert Tips on Sudying a Second Language

written by: Bright Hub Education Writer • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 1/29/2013

What can you do to master a second language more quickly and efficiently? No matter what language you are studying, there are learning tips that apply. Follow this expert advice!

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    Effective Study

    A little preparation can greatly enhance the EFFECTIVENESS of your study. To study for more effectiveness, try this:

    Where: no matter where you live, house or apartment or studio-closet, you need to mark out a PLACE to be your "This is where I STUDY!" place. It cannot be your bedroom; that's for sleeping. The bathroom is NOT a spot congenial to study. If you really live in a one-room student hovel, then use a wire or string or something else to hold up a blanket or sheet of cloth, in order to mark off your "My Study Space." The small investment in energy and time will yield rewards as your subconscious gets into the habit: Once you close that sheet off, STUDYING will be your focus at that time!

    Your lighting should be plentiful and indirect, NOT glaring from an unshielded bulb, straight into your eyes. Enough lighting to see clearly without squinting, and from natural sunlight if you can access a window. A cool breeze of fresh air can help, too.

    Finally (for the where), you should have music. More on that in the Who section, below.

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    When is Effective Study?

    The When of effective study is VERY important. You should calmly review your working week, on a daily basis, and set a time when you can and WILL be there to study, in your Study Place.

    If you are a morning person, set your clock for 4:3--that's a.m.!--and get up, shower, and be dressed for study by 5:15. Then you can leave for work at 6:05 and arrive glowing with the inner knowledge that you're taking active steps to improve yourself and your value to ANY enterprise, and that will buoy you through the rest of the day.

    Your study times need not be long; a 20-minute study period of ACTUAL, FOCUSED STUDY is better than 55 minutes of "Where's my pencil? What'd I do with my notebook? Shouldn't I call Kathy? What does my dog need today? (yawn!) Oh, I'd better brush my teeth..." and on and on!

    But you should make your study times REGULAR and OFTEN, whether morning or evening.

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    WHO Studies Effectively?

    The Who, the Person-You-Need-to-Be, when studying effectively, needs all the above and a little more. You should be relaxed, mindful and attentive. Calm, breathing meditatively, (take yoga classes or Buddhist meditation classes to learn more about mindful breathing) so your brain-bucket gets plenty of oxygen. Strangely enough, getting oxygen to your brain can help you immensely with your studying!

    Learn to consciously use your eyes in your study, not just to read and take notes and make Mind Maps, but use your eyes in the NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) sense, 'putting' words and concepts into their storage/memory slots according to your accessing style (see this for clarification). Just learning how to use your eyes can double the effectiveness of your study!

    Use your nose. Olfactory memory is holistic, often pulling up visual images, emotional affect and remembered sounds all with one whiff. So use roses (for instance) in your Monday studies, an orange for Tuesday, banana Wednesday, mint Thursday and cheese Friday. Pleasant smells, associated with your study, can help enjoy studying AND recalling what you studied. When you take your exams, have all five scents on your shirt-cuffs, and sniff them during the test. (The author was the first-ever student to ACE the anatomy midterm at his college!).

    Use your ears. Listen to the Largo movements of classical European music, with a beat of 58-64 Beats per Minute (BPM). The music you want sounds like 'Mozart for Baby Geniuses' and you can put a tape or CD together by yourself or pay a little and get it all done for you. Choose smooth, harmonious, often slow music that helps your body synchronize with your brain/mind! This is very good stuff for learners.

    Be a person who is prepared, ready to focus on study, and cheerful. Avoid long, tedious sessions in one position. If your shoulders (or neck or back) ache, get up and move for a minute, then sit down and quickly refocus! Stay playful and alert, for it is this playful, alert mindfulness that keeps your learning-window OPEN!

    Follow your teacher's or professor's instructions. Don't second-guess your mentor, your guide.

    And finally, give all you've got. Stay away from half-hearted study-dabbling! That's lying to yourself, and you know it. You'll only reap what you're sowing if you do that, and half-hearted results stinking of mediocrity are what grow out of mediocre, half-hearted attempts at learning!

    This is YOUR life! Carpe diem! Seize this moment as if you'll never have another, for in truth, you shall not! Do your best now, and you'll never regret the outcomes which follow!