So, what’s the secret to learning a foreign language? There’s one thing you need to learn a language and as a language graduate, I’ll let you in on the secret.
Immersion, it’s the only way.
Simple? Not exactly, it takes a lot of motivation and commitment to immerse yourself in a new language. Especially if you’re not living in the country where that language is spoken. This post will fill you in on the things you can do to incorporate language learning into your day to day life without spending a fortune on courses.
Download the Duolingo App
A pretty obvious one. This is a good place to start for any language learner and it’s free! There are over 30 languages available. The lessons follow a very logical approach and help you build on your language skills through a combination of listening, reading, writing and speaking. There’s also a competition element if you want to compete against friends and family. You have to use the app on consecutive days to keep your name at the top of the leader board. Game on!
Top Tip: If you find out you are continually running out of lives, click on the heart icon and gain extra lives by putting in some more practice.
Translate Daily Vocabulary and Conversations
You may not have someone within your inner circle to practice daily conversation with but don’t let that stop you! Heading to the fridge? Ask yourself, what’s the word for fridge in my target language? Did you just ask your friend how they are? Think about how you would have asked that question. Ca va? Como estas? Wie Gehts? As you continue to learn new vocabulary you’ll find yourself translating more and more words and sentences in your head. If you are the kind of person who dances like no one is watching, then to hell with it, say it all out loud, you’ll progress even quicker that way.
Return to Reading the Basics
Many people don’t really think about it but you once had to learn your native tongue. You didn’t reach for War and Peace to practice reading did you? Just because you are an adult now, that doesn’t mean you should throw yourself in at the deep end. Take it back to basics. Think of your favourite childhood book. The one book you read over and over again and see if you can find it in your chosen foreign language.
Go Old School with Pen and Paper
We have information at our finger tips and it only takes a matter of seconds to look up a word on an online dictionary or use Google translate to decipher a paragraph. It’s almost too easy and our brains know it. You are more likely to retain information by using a paper dictionary and putting pen to paper. So do it the old fashioned way, look up an unfamiliar word and then write it down. Challenge yourself to retain as much as you can and I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this way of brain training.
Study by Streaming
Can you remember a time without Netflix or Amazon Prime? Today’s language students don’t know how lucky they are. You no longer have to worry about browsing some dodgy looking streaming site to find foreign language content or re-watch the only DVD you own which has an additional language soundtrack. There is an abundance of great foreign language TV and Film available to us. Even if you are a complete beginner, this is a great way to start hearing the language on a regular basis. Don’t be put off by how little you understand, just go with it, read the subtitles and you will start picking up certain words. Before you know you’ll start to understand sentences. Once you find yourself becoming more advanced in the language, try turning off the English subtitles. You might be surprised at how much you take in without them, it’s amazing how context can help you fill in any language gaps.
Top Tip: If foreign TV shows or Films don’t seem like your thing, why not try out dubbed versions of your favourite films or shows.
Learn Subconsciously via Social Media
We all spend far too much time on social media, endless scrolling through our feeds. So why not follow some language learning accounts. Without realising you will be scrolling past foreign language content, whether it be new words or phrases, you’ll continue to add to your vocabulary bank, perhaps without even realising it.
Instagram and Pinterest
Find relevant Instagram accounts or Pinterest boards by searching key words alongside your chosen language for example:
Brush up via Background Music
Spotify lovers, listen up. You’re sitting on a gold mine of the world’s music. Create yourself a banging foreign language playlist and start learning the words to the catchiest tunes. If you’re not sure what’s hot and what’s not check out the top 40 in for the country of your target language.
Revise by Radio
This is definitely one of the trickier methods but once you’ve mastered the radio, you’ll be well on the way to mastering the language. Before you jump in at the deep end take a look at podcasts such as ‘Slow News’ by Linguistica 360. They slow news in Spanish, French, Italian and German.
The key is to use a combination of these methods on a regular basis. This is the Secret to Learning a Foreign Language. Dedicating just 15 minutes a day will soon have you on the path to fluency! Good luck.
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