It's that time of year when so many of us are getting ready to go back to school. If you are going to be studying a language this year, either as a new subject or as part of a continuing series, there are many things you can do outside the classroom that can seriously improve your grades.
You can take responsibility for your own learning and take charge of the direction your language study is going in. Start doing a little extra work outside the classroom, but be sure it is something different from what you do in class. Look for complementary resources to learn from and new ways to use what you are learning.
Get a language course. It can be a little tricky to get one that meshes well with the course you are taking in class, but if you can get the right kind of course for yourself, you can really complement your classroom learning and get ahead in class.
Join a language community. There are dozens of language communities on the internet that can help you learn a language in a lot of ways. You can study vocabulary, grammar, practice dialogues, read articles and listen to unique content. You can even participate in email exchanges, text chats and voice chats, all in the language you are studying. The best part is that you can find most, if not all, of these features for free on the internet.
Read websites and blogs. There are tons of free resources and content on the internet to learn a new language. Some in the language you are learning is simple enough that even a beginner can get a lot of use out of it. But, there are also lots of other resources just for learners.
Listen to podcasts. Just like websites and blogs, you can find lots of podcasts to listen to, both in the language you're learning and some really great ones specifically for learning that language.
Listen to music, watch movies and play games. Don't limit yourself to just 'learning materials.' Try doing things just for fun. Even if this is the only extra study you do outside the classroom, this can take you a long way toward really learning and absorbing the language.
By using a few of these simple ideas, you can vastly improve your ability to read and understand your target language. And if you go a little further and put in just a little extra effort, your ability to write and speak the language will improve by leaps and bounds. You will get more than just a 'leg up' on your competition and improve your grades, you will blow away your fellow students and your teacher!