Tips | Learning a Language at Home

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Learning a foreign language can be intimidating but one thing is certain – it is fully worth it. Not only do you broaden your horizon by acquiring new language skills you also discover a whole new world and you simultaneously grow as a person. But the list of arguments for learning a new language is endless. It ranges from being able to watch movies in their original language to connecting to people and exploring a new culture as language, culture and identity are interconnected. There is something really exciting about going on holidays abroad and being able to speak the local language – you suddenly feel less like a tourist and more like an actual part of society and chances are that you’ll get a better insight into local culture. Having the ability to communicate with locals in their language feels immensely rewarding and definitely boosts your confidence. The funny thing is that when you learn a new language, you never just learn just one – there are always similarities between different languages and certain languages have an incredibly lot in common. In the end learning a new language leads to acquiring a new way of thinking, it leads to tolerance and understanding and once you catch the ‘language bug’ there certainly is no going back.

As a lot of you may know I recently came back home after travelling France for 3.5 months. Apart from the fact that I love exploring new places my main reason for going to France was my interest in the French culture and the French language. This language wasn’t completely new to me as I had already studied it school for some years but still, my French skills weren’t anywhere near perfect (to put it nicely). I remember sitting at home a few days before my departure watching French YouTube videos (and literally thinking ‘merde‘.) Right there I realised that I had a long road ahead and that improving my French skills would take a lot of hard work and dedication. Learning French was certainly one of the biggest challenges I had faced in a while and I sat there wondering if my vocabulary would ever exceed ‘croissant’, ‘chocolat’ and ‘rendezvous’. On my first day in France it definitely didn’t and telling someone to move his luggage turned out to be the biggest challenge of the day. But from that point things only got easier and looking back, I am incredibly happy about my decision to go to France. Language-whise it was the best thing I could have done and when I left France I actually felt sad about switching to my native language again and my sadness intensified at the thought of leaving behind French pastry. And lovely Nice of course. The funny thing was that I went to Italy afterwards and despite not speaking a word of Italian I was able to understand quite a lot – until then I had never realised how close French and Italian were. Anyway, going abroad is definitely the most effective way of learning a new language as you’re practically forcing yourself to speak it (in a good way of course). But even if you don’t go abroad, there are still plenty of methods to learn a new language at home and I decided to list my favourite ones.

Apps. There are many great apps for learning new languages and I can’t think of a more practical and convenient way of improving your language skills. You can use these apps on the go, during your morning commute or during your lunch break. My favourite language app is Duolingo as it’s very effective and a lot of fun at the same time.
Lingolia. Learning the grammar of a new language can be daunting but with Lingolia it is as easy as it can be. This platform is definitely my favourite for learning grammar as it is very well structured and easy to use. Each grammatical chapter comes with exercises and all the chapters summarise the most important grammatical rules without leaving out anything important. I can also recommend creating your own ‘grammar book’ as writing down all the rules will help you memorise them.
Netflix. That sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Watching movies can be incredibly helpful with learning a new language and the best thing about Netflix is that you can turn on subtitles, too. If you don’t have a Netflix subscription, YouTubes videos will be just as good – especially vlogs are great for learning useful vocabularies and for learning e.g. spoken French.
Reading. This is an obvious one. Reading books in a foreign language obviously helps you to acquire new words and in contrast to Netflix, novels are great for learning not only the spoken version of a language but the written one too. If you are struggling to read in the language you are learning, I can recommend starting with YA books as these usually contain easier language.
12 words a day. When I first started to learn French my French teacher told me that it was best to learn 12 words a day and that rule has stuck with me. So I keep a little book where I jot down 12 new vocabularies a day and this method has proven to be very effective as 12 words are very easy to keep in mind and as it’s always fun to randomly pick words you want to learn.
Diaries. If you are keeping a diary just switch to writing in a foreign language occasionally or if you are really ambitious you could even start a diary in that language. You could also buy a ‘1 line a day book’ or any other kind of book you can write into regularly. When learning a foreign language, it really helps to practise writing along with speaking.

I hope these tips are helpful and if you need a bit of extra motivation why not plan a holiday abroad to use your newly learned skills? I can promise you it will be incredibly rewarding.

Do you speak any foreign languages? Is there a foreign language you would like to learn? x