The keywords for language learning are “meaningful communication”. Let’s face it, we are all fed up of reading boring texts, having to learn vocabulary and trying to get our heads around grammar. When you learn a language, you tend to forget that the goal of learning is to use language in your everyday life.
Instead, you need to practice what you actually want to achieve: proficiency in the kinds of activities and language tasks that you do anyway in your mother tongue or other languages you speak.
Here are a few simple ‘hacks’ that will help you increase fluency and build your confidence when learning a new language:
Any excuse to speak is a good one. You need to talk as much as you can! be talkative and friendly to whoever wants to listen to you and have a chat. This also implies making mistakes but this is something that you need to embrace! If you think about from the right perspective it can even be fun. Never forget that most people are willing to help and happy to talk to you because people simply love to talk for the sake of talking.
Look proactively for friends in the target language. It can be a tandem partner or someone who is also learning the language. However, you do need to enjoy a conversation with that person. Meeting someone just to go over grammar can make you hate speaking the language. Your goal is to have fun and have memorable moments when speaking. These moments are more easily memorized than boring repetitive exercises.
Watch films you have already seen in the target language (cartoon films from your childhood or that film where you know all the dialogue). While dubbed films can feel a bit artificial, they use a very simple and standard way of speaking that makes it easier to understand. Also, since you already know what happens in the story, you can concentrate on the language.
Look for internet forums or chats about on the subject of topics you like. People are normally not very strict about proper spelling, punctuation and grammar in these situations, which makes them a wonderful space for you to practice your writing, and you may get to know people with your same interests.
Look for commitment. Take part in any language-related events, contests or, so called, language sprints. This commitment helps to create a good language learning habit – just like brushing your teeth twice a day. Once learning is ‘implanted’ in your daily life, it won’t feel “foreign” or “uncomfortable”.
Watch a TV series in the target language. TV series are great for language learners because you are exposed to the same characters’ way of speaking over a long period of time, which makes you associate language use with personality in a natural way.
All of these life hacks should be fun and make you even more excited and committed to learning a language. Indeed, a properly implemented “life-hacks system” could become a strategy for starting new, positive habits that will work even when you are tired or unsure of yourself. Perfect for the tricky business of learning a language.
This article was produced by one of the in-house Lingoda writers.