Knowing a foreign language is possibly one of the most useful skills you could ever have. It gives you great opportunities, you can speak with more people and travelling is made way easier. With that being said, it’s not an easy one to acquire. We all at some point have fallen for the ‘learn French in 3 days’ app’ that doesn’t work, and the truth is that it takes a combination of 3 things:
If you’re anything like me, then you have all of these 3 things, but you’re just lazy. Now with all the tools and sources available, being lazy is not an excuse. As a final year language student - and a very lazy one at that - which I think I may have already mentioned (winky face), I have compiled (and am willing to reveal) my 5 easy ways to master the language you're learning, without leaving the house.
1. Vocabulary games
One of the most tedious parts of language learning is, without a shadow of a doubt, vocabulary. It’s the most relevant memory game of all time, that few can master well... I mean face it, we can’t all have photographic memories. So, instead of flooding yourself with lots of pieces of paper filled with words and their translations and definitions, why not save the trees and put yourself to the test?
My way of doing it?
Memrise lets you create your own courses and add your own words, then play games and wait for them to enter your long term memory. Not only will you be saving the planet but you’ll be a speaking a hell of a lot more sophisticatedly.
Too lazy to create your own? Memrise already has its own courses and many members also let you use theirs... so there is really no excuse.
Now, no one can deny that native speakers are the golden ticket. They have intuitions that go beyond any grammar book you’ll find on the library shelves. And, believe it or not, many of them are just as keen to practice your language with you as you are with them.
So why not make a trade? There are plenty of websites available for you to chat with native speakers and for them to chat with you. My personal favourite is: Conversation Exchange where you can set up your own personal pen-pal without even leaving your room.
However, if you are feeling brave enough to leave the house, there are other options. Sites like Conservation Exchange do offer the chance to arrange meet-ups, but if you prefer to stay close to home, keep an eye on events in your local area via social media. Local universities, cultural centres and even bars host events for language exchanges. Here, you’re in a safe, socialable environment where you can make new friends and practise.
Change the language on your device
If you’ve ever studied a language past GCSE/ high school level, you’ll know that this is a key tip. It may seem simple, but it keeps you up to date with some relevant vocabulary that you will come to be quite useful.
Change everything from your phone to your social media accounts. You’ll also find that following celebrities on social media that come from the countries that speak your target language can be very helpful. Not only do they have a large fan-base in their home countries, but they normally offer their captions in both their native tongue and English (which if you’re reading this you assumedly speak).
So you won’t just be ahead with the latest celebrity goss x 2, but if you’re a tech-head, it’ll be the first thing you see in the morning and the last at night. So, you will be in contact with your foreign language every day.
It’ll also keep your pesky friends and family away from your phone... provided they can’t understand.
Along the lines of cultural engagement, listen to more music. Obviously YouTube has a great array of music videos with lyrics, so it’s a great place to start to figure out what you like.
However, personally I prefer something a bit more stimulating, so I would recommend Lyrics Training. Just chose your language and test your knowledge of the hits in your target language and fill in the gaps. Not only will it test your aural skills, but it will also teach you the lyrics to some of the most current chart toppers. This tool is perfect for everyone, from beginners or pros with a selection of multiple levels... so, there’s really no excuse not to play.
So, when you hit the club with your friends and the DJ throws a little Latin flare, you got this!
Netflix and Amazon Prime offer some great foreign dramas where you can sit and put your knowledge to the test, in the comfort of your own home.
Yet, if you aren’t a massive fan of the television and film selection in your target language then why not opt for dubbing? This can work really, really well on TV shows that you are re-watching, given that you are already familiar with the plot lines and you’ll be understanding a lot more of the language than you’d expect.
However, this doesn’t work for everyone, which I can definitely vouch for. I HATE DUBBING, especially when I can see the actors’ mouths moving at the rhythm of my native language, it turns into a game of lip reading/listening and no-one is skilled enough for that in 2 different languages at once. At this point, I opt for subtitles. Reading subtitles in your target language alongside listening in your native language can also really boost your vocab, grammar and communicative competence.
Cheeky little hack:
For Netflix users, you can really optimise the languages available by changing the profile language on your user. If you change it to your target language, not only will you get more subtitle options but also the episode descriptions.
Share your account? Don’t worry if you have separate user, it’ll only change the language for you. Practically fool proof.
What are your tips for learning a new langauge? Let us know in the comments below!
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Header photo by energepic.com from Pexels.