Language learning

Tips on Learning a Foreign Language

“I wish I spoke a foreign language..”  It would be really interesting if everyone spoke a foreign language in fewer than 10 days, like you would see in those pop up ads on your screen.

Nothing comes easy, but the fact that foreign languages are an important element in our global village, is something we should consider. The more we connect with each other the stronger our curiosity grows in exploring each other’s culture and understanding what is said.

No matter what your major is, a foreign language will absolutely add more chances to your career.

I’ve heard many individuals complain “It’s too late for me to learn a foreign language”  or  “It’s hard , I just can’t do it”, “My major doesn’t require a foreign language, I don’t need to do it.” We all become less interested in learning any new language especially if people we are interested in speak ours, so why to bother?! We basically lie to ourselves by coming up with such excuses. We don’t need to be pushed to learn a language.  No matter what your major is, a foreign language will absolutely add more chances to your career.

  • Mass Communication
  • Political Science
  • Anthropology
  • History
  • Criminology
  • Education
  • Global and International Business
  •  Marketing
  • Management



You don’t have to do much, Search “The Importance of Foreign Languages in…( Major) ” and you will get hundreds of results. You will be astonished by your discoveries, like that most of the US presidents were multilingual,  Thomas Jefferson claimed to read and write six languages.

In learning a foreign language you will go through many stages to reach a decent level of acquisition. Throughout your learning experience, there will be times when you would feel frustrated because you don’t understand what your language instructor is saying, and other times when you would feel you are progressing, all you have to do is accept the challenge and work your way through it, by planning things right.


Learning Styles

  • Choose the language you feel more motivated to learn, if you have no interest in the language you are learning, it will slower the pace of your learning, and you might end up giving up.
  • Know what kind of a learning style you have. Are you more visual, auditory, linguistic…
  • Be open to the culture of the language, meaning the more you get closer to the culture of the language the more you learn about its usage. Language and culture always go together.
  • Enroll in a language class. This will help you connect with other individuals who share the same interest in a more organized learning environment.

After your organize your choices, decide what language you want to learn, then you can start building a Study Plan, which will help you organize what to learn first and what to avoid in order to not overwhelm yourself. Remember that if you build a strong foundation, everything will start flowing smoothly.

An Arabic student practicing new vocabulary through using them in sentences.

An Arabic student practicing new vocabulary through using them in sentences.

  • Start by learning how to say your name and write it, especially if the language you are learning doesn’t have Latin letters, then you will definitely want to see how your name looks like in a different language.
  • Start learning the Alphabet, just be comfortable in writing the letters, we all doodle on our notebooks sometimes, well writing foreign letters at first will look like doodling lines. Watch YouTube videos and Google some texts to look at the letters, it’s like training your visual skills to be able to recognize what you write.
  • Before you master writing the entire alphabet, it will be helpful to learn new words as you go. You don’t have to learn how they are written, but at least get familiar with the foreign sounds of the language and sharpen your auditory skills.
  • Learn new words every day, two, three or five. They say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, well with languages “A Word a Day keeps the Teacher Away”
  • Technology is fascinating, especially with foreign languages, there are many free applications that you can download to your device. Pick one that you like and use it. We spend more time on checking our Facebook, or read others’ statuses; it will be more beneficial if we nourish our brains with new vocabulary and expressions.

Most Spoken Languages in the World

The list of tips could go on, because the fun of learning a foreign language makes you linguistically creative, at a certain stage of your learning, you will look back at all those challenges and say to yourself that it was worth it, you will build your own learning style, you will be more motivated and proud of yourself when you are put in situations where speaking a foreign language would save your life.

Give yourself the change to speak a foreign language and the joy you will feel is priceless.  Don’t deprive yourself from being linguistically competent in a foreign language, it will pay off.

I Had No Idea What I Was Doing In College

While applying at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and colleges in general, I thought a lot about that saying, “college isn’t for everyone.” People say things like you have to go to college and college will be the best four years of your life. No one says anything about what I could do if it turns out college wasn’t for me.

When I started school at USFSP I had the option of living on campus in a dorm room. Recruiters and orientation speakers told me dorms are where you’ll make life long friends, that’s where you can create memories, and living on campus is part of the college experience. Still, I had no interest in living on campus and being that close to students that like dubstep and ping pong tournaments.
After I ditched the dorm idea, I went through my first few weeks of classes constantly being asked to join some club or given a flyer to come to some event.
Sailing Club? No.
Movie night on campus? Nope.
Student Government? Nah.
Multicultural Affairs? No, thanks.

If this is what college is, I’m definitely not a “college person.” But, really what was I going to do? I couldn’t just quit school. After a year or so I realized I had to stop hating everything and let college work for me.

Spanish dancers performing during a USFSP guided tour.  Photo by: Dana Parkinson.

Spanish dancers performing during a USFSP guided tour. Photo by: Dana Parkinson.

That saying, “college isn’t for everyone” should really be “college is different for everyone.” Thanks to USF St. Petersburg’s and Tampa’s study abroad programs I became a “college person.” In the last year, I’ve participated in two study abroad programs. The first was in Salamanca, Spain and the second was in Oxford, England. The programs helped me find my place at USFSP. I returned each time with a new found appreciation for my campus. During my first two years at USFSP I took for granted its convenient location, small classroom sizes, and its accessibility. These are features not all schools around the world have. I am now a member of the TRIO Student Support Services Program. There, I help other students learn more not just about study abroad, but how to pay for it too.

I recently finished my minor in Spanish and Latino studies at USFSP. I’ve been taking Spanish language courses for eight years and even have Rosetta Stone… Surprisingly, I still wasn’t fluent in Spanish. Last Summer I spent a month in Salamanca, Spain as part of USFSP’s study abroad program. I received three credit hours, finished my minor, and was even having dreams in Spanish. I never would have accomplished this or became a fluent Spanish speaker if I didn’t find this program at USFSP.

Study abroad is a wonderful experience USF offers because it essentially takes the “college” out of studying. In Salamanca, I lived with a crazy single Spanish woman. She fed me, washed my clothes, commented on how late I stayed out at night, and forced me to take naps after lunch. She was like a mom. She only spoke Spanish, I went to an intensive Spanish language university, and met locals that only spoke Spanish. It’s safe to say, the only language I could speak for a month was Spanish. If you have absolutely any interest in learning another language, do a study abroad program in a country where you are forced to speak it. School was still school, but the nightlife and my free time drastically altered my speaking efficiency. Studying Spanish was embedded into my everyday life in a much more fun and relaxed way than just taking a few Spanish courses. My roommate, also from USFSP, and I went out almost every night. This experience was the only time in my life where I felt like going out wasn’t a method of procrastination. It was a genuine opportunity to take what I have learned in school for years and finally use it in real life.

Locals celebrating in Plaza Mayor after Spain won the Euro 2012.

Locals celebrating in Plaza Mayor when Spain won the Euro 2012.

USFSP also provided us with guided tours through other cities in Spain and put together cultural events like watching traditional flamenco dancing. I was in Spain when it won the UEFA Euro 2012 and I’ve eaten almost every traditional meal the country has to offer. I didn’t just get to learn the language, I was a part of Spanish culture too.

Fish and potatoes are common Spanish dishes.

A common fish and potato dinner my host mother made me. Photo by Alicia Gangi.

USFSP’s study abroad made it easy and affordable to have this one of a kind experience. I loved the experience so much I did study abroad again for three months the following semester. Although you won’t find me cooking in a dorm room or tailgating before a USF football game, I did figure out what I was doing in college. Still, maybe college isn’t for everyone, but USFSP definitely worked for me.

Fulbright Program Brings Moroccan Scholar to Teach and Learn at USFSP

Raja Benchekroun honed her professional language teaching skills in her native Morocco, teaching English to local and European students and Arabic to American students that were studying in Morocco. And now, as a Fulbright foreign language teacher at USFSP for the 2011-2012 academic year, Benchekroun is developing her understanding of education in the United States, something she formed an interest in after teaching many American students and visiting the U.S. as a tourist.

“It is surely fascinating to be standing in a bridge between two cultures,” Benchekroun said. “My experience as an educator in the United States is definitely teaching me a lot about the American educational system.”

Through Fulbright’s Foreign Language Teaching Program, foreign educators receive a grant to teach at an American university and take two courses per semester to better understand American students and their educational environment.

Fluent in English, Arabic and French, Benchekroun earned her bachelor’s degree in English studies and a master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Caddi Ayyad. She earned language teaching certificates from the British council in Morocco.

She wants to offer her students insight into another culture and introduce them to a subject they may have more interest in then they realize, she said.

“I want to leave an imprint on my students,” Benchekroun said. “I desire to be that remarkable teacher that they remember.”