Learning a New Language at 19 Years Old – Methods & Effectiveness

Hello, my dear colleagues!

Learning a new language can be extremely hard, and as a teacher, I am always interested in methods and their effectiveness. Second language acquisition does not happen over the night. Despite that, we can do many things to speed up learning.

The post you are about to read is written by my younger sister Svetlana.

She is a 19-year-old Swedish undergraduate student at the faculty of Philology in Belgrade. Please mind that there may be some minor inconsistencies when It comes to sentence structure, but for the sake of originality, everything is posted just the way she wrote it.

How it all started

Today I’m going to write about studying a new language at a very late age – 19. But, before that, let me tell you how I got where I am today.

Before enrolling in university, I went to a Grammar Philological High School, which means that my subjects were mainly studying languages and linguistics.

This was very useful when I started preparing myself for the entrance exam. Oh, what stories have I heard before that! It was almost as if the older students didn’t want me to pass the exam. Nevertheless, I started by revising the basics of both my mother tongue and the English language. After that, the only thing that I had to do was go over a lot of different types of tests and practices.

The English part of the exam consisted of 4 parts – listening, writing, reading, and the grammar test.

The listening part was the hardest for me to prepare. After listening to all of the available tracks from the previous exams, I tried to recreate a real-life entrance exam to prepare myself for all kinds of situations. I played loud music in the background of the tracks and was devastated by how bad I did on the first exam! I got barely 4 out of 10 points! However, by improving my concentration, I got 10/10 points on this part in the exam!

I am a student at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade, and I am studying the Scandinavian languages, culture, and literature. It’s been three months since I’ve started learning a new language, and I have to admit it’s been pretty hard three months for me!

Here is what we are currently doing to learn Swedish!

Our professor has turned out to be the most outgoing person ever. He has set up a WordPress website where he posts all kinds of materials to help us revise. The most effective way to remember new vocabulary for me, I found, is by trying to use the words in an actual sentence. Our professor brings flashcards every class and every time we do a different type of exercise. One day it’s finding the antonyms for adjectives. The other it’s describing what or who we see in the flashcard.

Our professor does everything in his power to teach us the melody of the language and, personally – I think he’s doing a really good job. He provided us with the listening material available for every lesson in our book. These materials have come of great use to me since they’re very convenient. All you have to do is to spend 15 minutes every day! Listen and read out loud, and you will realize that your pronunciation improved.

To create a solid base for speaking, we had to learn basic sounds and words. All we did in the first few weeks was revising sounds and basic words. I need to say something to everyone who wants to study a new language – you have to be prepared to study a lot. You have to ask questions, you have to do your homework, and you have to be prepared to speak in that language. Overcoming the fear of public embarrassment was one of the hardest things for me to achieve.

Don’t forget the culture

Learning a new language is not only about the language itself. It’s not just about revising new words or reading some new text. It’s also about the culture and everything that comes along with it. When I started my studies, I was sure that this is what I wanted for myself, despite all the negative things people kept telling me. Now, three months in, I know I made the right decision.

What’s the conclusion?

I learned many new things about the origin of the language, culture, and art of all the Scandinavian countries. For example, I am 100% sure you didn’t know that Tolkien used a Scandinavian myth of Sigurd and his evil ring as a base for his famous work The Lord of Rings. Finding out things like this is one of the motivational things about studying this language, and I hope it continues to be like that.

What do you think about learning a new language from the beginning at an older age? Did you have any similar experiences? Write in the comments. I would love to hear your opinion! Read this article if you want to see what you can do as a learner to get ready for learning and achieve better results!

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  1. […] If you are interested to read the story of a girl who started learning Swedish at the age of 19, click here. […]

  2. […] If you are interested to read the story of a girl who started learning Swedish at the age of 19, click here. […]

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