Tips for New Students Who Are Living the Language Pledge

February 25, 2014

1. If you’re so adventurous as to pick a language you’ve never learned before (as myself, except I’m more crazy than adventurous), take ten minutes each day for a few weeks before you leave to familiarize yourself with the most basic things to say in the language. I knew NOTHING walking into MMLA. Literally. I couldn’t even say hello. On the first day, your teachers will give you some key phrases, but for the first few days, I was more lost than a polar bear at the South Pole. Don’t walk in blind. Prepare yourself a little. Learn from my mistakes.

2. Listen to those around you. In my last post, I talked about how much I learned from just listening to my friends talk. Be a sponge. Take it all in.

3. When you get to MMLA and you are living in language, ask a lot of questions. It may seem like the most obvious thing in the world, but the more you speak the language, the better you’ll get. Practice makes it all easier, my friend.

4. Pack a lifetime supply of notecards and tape. Make flashcards with vocab words and phrases on there, and give your dorm room new wallpaper. Even if you never take time to go over the words, you’ll still have them up, and you will begin to familiarize yourself with them. (This is what I do at home. It really works.)

5. PERSIST! Don’t give up! It will seem frustrating at first. I honestly can’t imagine how Columbus talked to the natives when he got to America for the first time, but have a strong image of what it was like. But there is nothing more satisfying than beating the voice in your head that tells you to give up. Keep going! You will do it, and you will be proud! I know it sounds impossible to just immerse yourself in another language, but you underestimate yourself, young friend. You adapt so quickly to having to use the language that it’s actually hard to go back to English. Example: I had to fly back home, and I was still saying “hello” and “thank you” in Chinese. I’m pretty sure that the flight attendants were really annoyed with me that I had to take a few extra seconds to switch back to English to respond to them.

Jasmine Hubara is junior in high school from Charleston, South Carolina. She is currently attending MMLA for Chinese, but also takes French and Spanish in school. This is her second year at Green Mountain College. Outside of school, she’s active in her synagogue youth and is busy with her senior thesis project and planning her future trip around the world (a girl can dream, right?).