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Meaning, language, and fluency-focused activities

These kinds of activities are great if you are looking to improve your language learning with new ways of learning. You don’t have to do all of these; in fact, people commonly get away with doing only a few.

Meaning-focused activities:

• Extensive reading: Reading as much as possible and on a wide range of subjects. The goal is to be exposed to as much vocabulary as possible while still understanding what you read, even if not fully.

• Narrow reading: Staying within a specific topic area when reading can help you encounter many of the same words over and over to improve your vocabulary retention. It can also help you target the kind of vocabulary you learn. You can achieve this by following the same topic in the news or reading about a specialist area of knowledge you already know about.

• Conversation practice: Talking and listening to natives in real conversation is highly beneficial.

• Reading while listening: Helps you get used to sounds while reading, as well as improving comprehension over simply listening.

• Listening to audio: This works like extensive and narrow reading, but by listening to podcasts or radio. This can be notably harder since listening is a more difficult skill to master.

• Read and write: Try reading and then writing a short article about a topic. If you want to mix it up, you don’t have to read, but can instead watch or listen and write.

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Language-focused activities:

• Intensive reading: This means carefully reading a specific text with the objective of learning a new piece of language. Your goal is to gradually understand the text by working out the meaning of the parts you do not understand at first.

• Memorizing sentences, dialogues, or words using flashcards or other tools

• Writing new forms and words down: Self-explanatory. Many people find the act of writing to be helpful for memorization.

• Translating between languages: If you have a dual-language text, you might try to translate your native into your target language, then compare your translation to the actual text.

• Delayed copying: Using a rather small text (approx. 200 words), read it first to understand it, then follow up by going through, trying to remember the first four or five words and writing them on a piece of paper without referring back to the text. You can gradually increase the number of words. This helps you hold longer and longer phrases in your head.

• Writing practice: Write something and send it to a native to be corrected. Optionally, write a follow-up text integrating what you have learned.

Fluency-focused activities:

• Listening for sounds: Focusing on sounds rather than meaning to hear how words sound in connected speech.

• Shadowing: Listening to dialogues with text and trying to mimic the speakers as closely as possible. After a few repetitions you can try to speak over top of them. Helps work on intonation and pronunciation.

• Repeated writing: Writing, getting it checked and corrected, looking at it carefully, putting it away, and then writing it again from memory.

• Repeated speaking: Record yourself speaking a text and play it back, listen and compare to a native.

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