Posted by: Idioma Extra | November 20, 2014
13 Fun Ways to Make it Easier to Learn a New Language
Whether you’re taking formal classes or just trying to pick up a new language on your own, you’ll pick it up much faster if you enjoy what you’re learning. As an ESL teacher and proud polyglot, I use these tips and tricks for both myself and my students. Trust me when I say they’re fun… and most importantly, they work.
1. Stick labels on everything.
Vocabulary is an incredibly important part of any language, but it can take up to 97 times of seeing, hearing, or using a single word before it’s ingrained
into your mind. To help you start thinking in your target language, label items around the house with your new words. Once you start thinking of that object as a “chaise” rather than a “chair,” it’ll be much easier to stop translating words from your native language into your target language.
2. Listen to music.
Find a few songs (or many!) that you love in your target language, and listen to them frequently. It will help you get accustomed
to the tongue’s accent and grammatical structure. It also gives you the opportunity to hear vocabulary words over and over again. And once you know the lyrics, you can…
Most new languages will contain sounds (like the dreaded
Spanish double-r) and accents that will require you to re-work how your mouth moves. A great way to get that tongue moving the right way is by belting out your favorite songs in your target language. Whether it’s in the car, at karaoke, or in the street, it will do wonders for your pronunciation.
4. Play around on language websites.
The internet is one of your best resources for connecting with people from all over the world, and nowadays, there are lots of websites you can use to learn new languages without paying a dime. Livemocha.com uses immersion techniques and lets your speaking and writing get critiqued
by native speakers (and lets you help others who are learning your native language). Memrise.com is a good one if you need to improve your range of vocabulary. There’s a whole digital world out there just waiting to help you learn!
5. Talk with friends (online or in person).
I wouldn’t recommend taking the “add random people from other countries on Facebook” route, but many language-learning websites enable you to digitally meet people who want to practice your language as much as you want to practice theirs. Chatting with them is a great way to get immersed
in your target language. If you’re more of a face-to-face person, you might have some luck finding a polyglot group in your city. The more you practice with native speakers, the faster you’ll learn.
Any language can be the language of love if you’re willing to give it a shot. If you’re open and willing to date, strike up
chats on dating sites with people who speak your target language, or participate in related cultural activities (salsa class, anyone?). At the very least, you’ll have an excuse to meet new people, and at best, you might find the love of your life.
7. Eat at restaurants.
In addition to being able to stuff
your face with delicious food, going to an ethnic restaurant can help you learn food-related vocabulary and get you more acquainted with the culture where your target language is spoken. And while going to Olive Garden probably won’t help you converse with Italian waiters, many smaller restaurants are owned by families who immigrated from different countries. I have yet to meet a single restaurant worker who wasn’t delighted when I took a genuine stab
at speaking to them in their native language.
8. Make the most of your vacation.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to travel a country where they speak your target language, use it to your full advantage. Speak with the locals using your best efforts. Even if you can only ask where the bathroom is using a barely-understandable accent, it’s still a step in the right direction. Better yet, most of the locals will be thrilled
to hear you trying to speak their language, since many vacationers don’t even bother to try. It’s a great way to get immersed
in your new tongue, and it’ll make for a trip you’ll never forget.
9. Change your social media language settings.
You spend all day on Facebook anyway, so why not get educated while you’re browsing your news feed? Changing the language setting to your target language is a perfect way to learn new words and sentence structure. And as long as you know the website’s general layout, you’re not likely to accidentally comment on someone’s photo when you really just wanted to post a new status.
10. Watch movies (with subtitles, if you need to).
Netflix nights get way more interesting when you’re watching your favorite Disney movie in German. Use the language and subtitle settings to your advantage while you’re having a night in, and adjust them to your language level. Almost fluent? Watch it in your target language without subtitles. Just starting out? Watch it in English with foreign subtitles. Somewhere in the middle? Foreign language, foreign subtitles. It’s a great way to improve listening, reading, and vocabulary while still having fun.
11. Quiz yourself
As you go about your daily routine, ask yourself if you know the vocabulary words for the things you see around you. If you do, say them in your head (or out loud!). If you don’t, write them down and look them up later. If you have the time, create flashcards
with your new words and take a few minutes throughout the day to review your vocab. The less time that passes between practices, the better.
12. Talk to yourself.
Whether out loud or in your head, narrating
your daily life in your target language is wonderful for practicing what you’ve learned. If you’re worried about sounding like a crazy person, just do it occasionally: “I’m going to the store.” “The soup is very hot.” This will encourage you to think in your target language, rather than translating from your native tongue.
Learning a new language is one of the coolest, most valuable things you can do with your life. But you’ll never get there if you’re scared to practice. Find whatever method works for you, and go nuts
with it. Your friends might tease
you for having your Twitter in Arabic, but relaxing and enjoying the journey will put you far ahead of those who stop learning once they leave the classroom.