You’ve made a resolution to learn a language Great! But where to start? There’s everything from apps to in-person classes out there to try. Unfortunately, the rest of your life doesn’t stop just because you’ve decided to learn to speak French, German, Spanish or English better. Erin breaks down some of the key aspects of learning a language and the best ways to learn one.
- Language learning from native-level speakers
- Be consistent when language learning
- Improve your listening skills
- Making up conversation
- Watch TV and shows in your target language
Learn languages at your pace
1. Language learning from native-level speakers
In Canada, all children take French language classes, if they aren’t native-level speakers, from an early age. However, there aren’t enough French teachers across the country for this, so sometimes you end up with someone with limited language skills and they definitely aren’t excellent in the pronunciation department. Not only is it hard to learn from someone who isn’t 100% comfortable in the language, you’re learning their quirks of incorrect pronunciation. If you want to know how people regularly ask for another beer, or say something isn’t going to work over WhatsApp, non-native speakers won’t know these things. Save time and painful corrections later, and make sure you’re learning from a native-level speaker. I promise this is one of the best ways to learn a language!
2. Be consistent when language learning
When I taught music, I would tell my students that 15 minutes of practice everyday was better than a 90-minute cram session once a week. The same is true of language learning. The more often you can do it, the better your skills will get. I love the Lingoda Sprint programs for this. By rewarding you for taking a lesson nearly every day, it gets you into the habit of language learning consistently, and you’ll find your comfort with the language will grow exponentially. I increased my lesson frequency from once or twice a week, to three or four times a week for about a month, and I couldn’t believe how far I progressed. Not just in my level, but in everyday life. I had tea with my neighbor for two hours, and spoke almost only German. That was impossible for me a few months ago.
3. Improve your listening skills
In a small class of four or five people, like the Lingoda classes, you get a break from being under the spotlight, but you also hear how other students work through the language. Sometimes they will ask questions that clarify things you didn’t know were confusing you, and sometimes they make the mistake you were about to as well. Hearing four or five other people try to pronounce something is educational, but also lets you know you’re not alone in trying to get their mouths around these new sounds. It’s the best feeling to know you’re not the only one.
4. Making up conversation
It feels like a great idea, to practice a language with an app with no human interaction. You can lie in bed and answer questions, do it on the train, wherever. And while you may learn some vocabulary, what an app will never do is ask you how your weekend was and expect an answer. A live teacher making conversation with you forces you to pull together your knowledge. While there is often a moment of panic, while you try and remember what you did last weekend as well as formulate the past tense, it’s much more useful than practicing vocabulary lists.
5. Watch TV and shows in your target language
What can be more fun than watching your favorite Netflix show or movie and at the same time learning new words in your target language? Put on the subtitles to make the process a bit easier and listen carefully to what the characters say. They might even have a regional accent so you’ll learn about the culture of the country, too!
My personal experience of the best way to learn a language
Take it from me: I have taken language class in school, at evening university courses, through apps, with tandem partners in person, in private classes, and with Lingoda online. When you’re busy with everything else in your life, Lingoda hits all the most important points – native-level teachers, consistency (this is on you though!), small class sizes, flexible class times, and spontaneous conversation. With their Sprint programmes, you will really feel the benefit of concentrating on your language learning for a set amount of time. Then you get to have tea and amazing cake with your neighbor.
Learn languages at your pace
Erin McGann is a Canadian freelance writer focusing on travel, living abroad, parenting, history, and culture. After nearly a decade living in the UK, Erin settled in Heidelberg, Germany with her husband and son. Dragging her family to every castle and open-air museum is a favourite activity, along with sewing, archery, and historical reenactment. You can check out her travel blog, and follow her obsession with half-timbered houses on her Instagram account.