My Chattertips: Getting the most out of Chatterbug
When it comes to learning a new language it all depends on our commitment. As a student, you can have all the resources in the world and heaps of motivation to begin, but it’s not until you start to take action and invest your time and effort on it that you get to see some actual results. So, how can you make the most out of the resources that are available to you on Chatterbug?
If you’ve already started studying with Chatterbug you may have noticed the type of exercises that you can use to study every day, besides the Live Lessons, of course. But what makes the exercises so important? Isn’t practising in real life situations what really matters?
Well, here is the thing: you can only practice after you have acquired a minimum amount of knowledge to work with.
Once you know a bit, practice helps you internalize it and most importantly, to not forget it. This is why you really need to have a self- study strategy and some tricks up your sleeve to keep you going in order to learn a new language. Here are some tips and advice drawn from my experience as a tutor AND as a language student to get the most out of Chatterbug and to make your language learning experience a success.
Set up a goal
Use the tool Chatterbug provides you with in order to set up a goal. This tool tells you how long you should spend doing self-study every day to reach your goal and it also tracks your progress for you. It may sometimes feel like it’s just a tool that is there to tell you to do some “homework” every day, but the tracking feature is a key to motivation.
If you’re anything like me, you will agree that It feels really good every time you check and you see that you’re closer to the level you want to achieve, and even better when you notice yourself in a situation where you can use the language you’re learning thanks to knowledge that you didn’t have before.
Besides the goal you set up on Chatterbug, you have to remember the most important thing behind it: why do you want to learn this foreign language? Do you want to find a new job? Do you want to study in a country where it is spoken? Is it a new hobby? Is it because of love? There are many possible reasons and only you can decide what that reason is and use it every day to help you stay motivated and enthusiastic about your language learning. Choose it wisely and you’ll be proud of what you can achieve!
Writing is powerful
Chatterbug has a space for you to practice writing. Even though the exercises come with a minimum of phrases to complete them, there’s no need to be shy, you can always write more! I know, most people struggle with writing exercises and in fact, this is due to a lack of practice and also because it is always much easier to listen, read, and take in the language you’re learning rather than to try to construct sentences yourself.
Compared to other language skills, writing requires more effort on your side, particularly if your current routine doesn’t involve interactions with natives of the language you are trying to learn. Even so, not everything about writing is difficult. One of the advantages you have is that compared to speaking, for example, it gives you more time to think about what you really want to express and even to look up any words that you might not know.
At this point, I imagine you might also be wondering: “But what about the errors? Who is going to correct me?” Well, thanks to the internet, you have the opportunity to share your writing and any doubts you might have with several online communities and also with the Chatterbug Team. Also, another easy solution is to use a translation tool to check how accurate what you just wrote is. Use this sparingly though!
You snooze, you lose
It is no secret that unfortunately there is no magic potion to help us memorize all the new words, pronunciations and grammatical rules that come with a new language. That’s the reason why constantly reviewing and reinforcing what you are learning is so important in the process of language acquisition.
We have all experienced how memory works. You study for a final exam and a couple of months later you cannot even remember what it was about. Something similar often happens with languages as well. How many of you have said or heard the following sentence: “I studied French at school, but it was a long time ago and I don’t remember that much anymore”. This doesn’t mean we all have poor memory, it just means that often, if we don’t regularly practice and review what we have learned, what we learn won’t stay in our long-term memory.
Even though you complete your time of daily self- study and you may practice often, all this information needs to pass from your short-term memory to your long-term memory. The only way to do that is through repetition or like I mentioned before: a review. If you go to the activities section on Chatterbug, you’ll find the cards with the content that you’re struggling with, the option to review cards from specific lessons, and more. This will help you to commit things to memory and also to test yourself a bit about what you’ve learned before.
Chatterbug Live Lessons are great!
Learning a new language will always include the great and interesting incentive of being able to meet a whole new group of people by interacting with native speakers of the language we are learning who we weren’t able to have conversations with before. Nevertheless, during the learning process, when we aren’t fluent yet, it is not always easy to find the right person that can help us to practice that wants to help us as much as we want to learn.
Moreover, most everyday conversations are not that long and useful since you might not know the person well yet or simply because you end up speaking in English or another common language (not the target one) in order to make the conversation faster and easier.
I would like to strongly recommend that you make sure to take full advantage of Chatterbug’s tutors and the Live Lessons offered if you are learning a language with Chatterbug, be it German or Spanish. You won’t run out of ideas to talk about and in those 45 minutes and I can assure you that you’re going to practice the language with someone that is keen to help you with your learning progress.
Have fun learning a new language!