Have you always wanted to know Spanish? Longed to understand Chinese characters? There’s no quick-fix solution, but regardless of your age, learning another language is within reach.
Even though learning a new language can sound daunting, there are ways to make the learning process effective, fast-moving, and enjoyable. It’s not all textbooks either – there are several ways to learn languages that don’t involve languishing over endless vocab lists and seemingly nonsensical grammar. Whatever your ‘target language’ (the language you want to learn) might be, there’s a better way to learn. Check out a few of them below:
Take advantage of the internet
The Internet has a lot of information to offer you at the touch of a few keys, and it does the same for language learning. All that information comes with a warning, however – remember to be careful about what you look at, because misinformation is as rife on the Internet as anything else is, so only use reputable sites for information. Trusted language learning platforms like Duolingo, Babbel, and Memrise are great for helping you learn in a fun, visual way. They’re also available in app form, so they can be educational additions to your daily commute.
Conversations are your best friend (and with them)
There’s a common opinion floating around the language learning community that the best way to learn a language is to date someone who speaks it. Although it’s not necessary to go that far in your quest to speak French, it stands to reason that frequently speaking with a native speaker is the best way to learn a language and how to speak it naturally. If you don’t have anyone in your life who speaks the language you want to learn, you can hire a personal tutor or search for a language partner online – apps like HelloTalk and websites like italki and Conversation Exchange have scores of people willing to teach and learn languages.
Your homework is… to watch Netflix
If you can’t find anyone in your area to practice with, and you’re apprehensive about starting conversations with people online, then the best way to immerse yourself in the language in the best way you can – by watching TV shows and movies in that language. Netflix has a multitude of offerings in different languages, but searching a bit will find suitable TV shows for almost any language you want to pursue. Watching Youtube might feel like cheating – what high school language class encouraged you to watch online videos? – but there’ll undoubtedly be at least a few Youtubers who make videos speaking your target language.
Have the immersive experience
A step up from having a friend who speaks the language is to surround yourself by people who speak it. While upping and moving to a new country solely to learn a new language may not be feasible, there are plenty of other ways to submerge yourself fully in a language other than your own. Changing your phone language is one way, while restricting yourself to speaking and communicating in your target language for a few days is another.
Be in two places at once
This works better for languages with Latin alphabets, since the grammar will likely be similar to that of English, but depending on your level of expertise, this could be the thing to push you that final mile towards fluency. Finding a book that you’ve read in English, or one you’d like to read in your target language, and then finding the respective translation will allow you to carefully work your way through both the novels and piece together your sense of comprehension as you do so.