Learning Centre tutor offers simple tips for mastering new languages

Undergraduate student Liz Carvalho shares why she volunteered to tutor at the FHIS Learning Centre and two simple tips for learning new languages. 

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Tutoring at the Learning Centre

“I wanted to help people who were too shy to ask the prof a question or didn’t think their question was important enough to ask during class. Honestly, no question is too small; trust me.”
Learning Centre Tutor & Undergraduate Student

I discovered the FHIS Learning Centre when I started learning French at the Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies (FHIS). My prof was always telling us to go there, so one day I went and met a really nice French tutor who not only helped answer my questions, but also encouraged me to become a tutor, myself!

I’m an international student (my family speaks Portuguese), so I decided to become a Portuguese language tutor. I wanted to help people who were too shy to ask the prof a question or didn’t think their question was important enough to ask during class. (But honestly, no question is too small; trust me.)

Tutoring at the FHIS Learning Centre taught me a lot, introduced me to some amazing students and professors, and has been super fun! I got to meet other people who spoke Portuguese on campus (and got tips on where the best food is), I got to work on my interpersonal skills, and I got to make other people excited about learning a new language.

As tutors, we always have a great time talking about different cultures and other fun things. The only problem is that you’re going to want to learn all of the languages after that!

Tips for learning a new language

#1) Consume media in your language of interest

I definitely recommend watching shows and movies in the language you are trying to master (there are so many options on streaming services!), because they help you become familiar with how the language sounds and what people talk like in an informal or formal setting.

You might also discover some music you enjoy or try reading books in your language of interest. I learned a bunch of new words just by reading them! You might find it motivating to start with comic books and then work your way towards a translation of your favourite novel.

#2) Ask for help as soon as possible

If there’s anything you don’t understand in your language classes, ask for help right away. You might not think your question is important enough to ask, but it could snowball into other aspects of your learning (for instance, having a hard time with words derived from the other words that you learned before that). Always remember that we at the FHIS Learning Centre are always happy to help; we won’t bite—I promise!

About the FHIS Learning Centre

The FHIS Learning Centre is a free service available for students of all levels and languages of the FHIS curriculum (French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish). The Centre offers student-centered conversation practice, tutoring (i.e. grammar and vocabulary questions), and help with the continued development of core skills (i.e. speaking, listening, reading, and writing) in order to become proficient in the languages that are taught.

Services are currently offered online.