Multiple Language Learning Methods: One Isn’t Going to Cut It

Hi guys! Thank you for your patience as I get adjusted in China and try to find time to update my studyblr! Between studying my languages and teaching, it’s been a bit of a struggle. But I’ve finally got situated enough to get on Tumblr and get to work on a new post that I’m excited to finally share with you!

How many methods do you use to study languages? If you say one, you’re probably studying wrong. When you were in grade school studying the alphabet, did you just read a textbook and BAM you knew the alphabet? OF COURSE NOT! As much as our parents and instructors would wish we did learn that easily, no one ever does! No one. The best way to learn something is to experience it in different ways, situations and formats. You listened to the alphabet spoken in class by your teacher, then by an audio cd, then on tv when you watched Sesame Street, then in a song at a babysitters house, then read them in a textbook, then maybe played computer games to help you practice on top of all that. You heard the same alphabet over and over in different contexts. I used to be a big fan of Between the Lions back in the day because they would teach you a letter then a few words, then use those words and letters over and over again in different skits during the show. If the word of the day was dig, then in the cartoon Cliff Hanger, Cliff would need to spell dig to figure out how to come down from the cliff (of course it never worked, but that’s besides the point), there would be a song with dig in it, there would be activities where you’d have to insert the missing letters, and then the lions themselves would get into situation where they would need to dig something and you’d learn the word dig AGAIN. You get the point. This stuff isn’t just for children. This stuff is gold for language learning as adults, so how do you tap into this knowledge? By giving yourself multiple methods of language study just like a kid! By creating multiple methods of language studying, you are cementing everything you have learned into your memory. With this in mind, you must always have at least three methods of study to pull out when you study every week. Here are mine:


Video/Audio lesson method (example: video based lessons, Youtube video lessons, TTMIK)

1. Watch/listen to video/audio lesson once all the way through (just listen and repeat)

2.  Re-watch while writing down new vocabulary (listening writing)

3.  Study new vocabulary (reading)

  • Write out and use a joke or story to remember each word
  • Look for examples of uses for words using videos
    or songs or something (Listening) (speaking)

(if learning Korean, use Naver. If learning Chinese or Japanese use Fluent U to search for videos, commercials, music videos, and episodes of shows containing your vocab word. For everything else just search Youtube)

  • Write out each word ten times (writing)

4. Re-watch video/audio (Listening)

5. Repeat after video/audio (Speaking)

6. Study vocab again at end of the week


 Textbook method

Tip: If you buy a textbook for self study, definitely get one with audio


1. Read textbook lesson with audio if included (reading)

2. Read lesson without audio

2. Study vocabulary (reading)

  • Make and write a joke or saying or story to help you remember each word (Exam

4. Look for examples of uses for words using videos
or songs or something (listening) (speaking)

5. Write character out ten times each (writing)

6. Repeat after audio if included (speaking)


Vocab lists (example: Tumblr, Pinterest, etc)

Say you find a list of interesting vocabulary on Tumblr or Pinterest. You can plan to use this during the week!

1. Read vocab list (reading)

2. Find corresponding audio and repeat. You can use a dictionary audio (listening) (speaking)

3. Study vocab words (reading)

  • Make jokes or some story to help you remember

5. Look for examples of uses for words using videos
or songs or something (reading) (speaking)

6. Repeat after audio (speaking)


Shows, Movies, Youtube Videos

1. Watch video 10 minutes at a time (listening) (DO NOT watch the whole thing unless it is short)

2. Study vocab and grammar (reading) (writing)

3. Make inside jokes or story to help remember vocabulary

4. Look for examples of uses for words using videos
or songs or something (listening) (speaking)

5. Write vocab out 10 times (writing)

6. Make  any relevant notes about culture and usage

7. Repeat after video sentences (speaking)

This method takes a long time over a course of weeks to finish a movie.


Music and Songs

1. Listen to entire song without looking at lyrics (listening)

2.  Go find lyrics and study vocabulary line by line (reading)

3. Make jokes or a story to remember vocabulary

4. No need to look for examples of word usage if you don’t want to

5. Write out vocabulary 10 times

6. Stop studying after one paragraph or verse

7. Read the lyrics

8. Listen to the song and try to follow along

9. Do this until you learn the whole song

8. Make any cultural notes


Okay, so let me explain some details in the post. In every method, one of the steps is to make a joke or some kind of phrase to help you memorize a new vocabulary word. Let me explain. Sometimes it is very hard to remember vocabulary words unless there is a story behind them! Say your words is 苹果 (apple) so you write the English translation and then below it you write, “Sarah refuses to eat her

and has now tossed it onto the floor. Sarah is 24.” Now you’ve written a short and memorable story about apples and are more likely to remember the word

. Got it? They teach this stuff in kindergarten and now you’re going to do it for you!

Note: If you are learning Chinese, you can use the radicals to make a story if you’d like. But that would require learning the radicals for every single word, which I encourage you to do anyway, but you don’t have to.

So how do you plan these into your weekly schedule? Easy! Pick a method and do that for one week and then change it to something else the next week. Or you can change it everyday or every few days. I will talk about it more in another post!

Thank you for reading! I hope this was helpful!


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