8 techniques for learning a new language at homeSimona Pralovska 06.10.2020 Meet the World with Lexika Reading time: 4 min.
Without any doubt, your qualifications and value in the labour market increase if you can communicate in a foreign language. Intensive courses led by excellent teachers will certainly bolster your language education. But there are many support tools and strategies that you can utilize to learn a new language quickly and effectively even from the comfort of your own home.
Here we have assembled a few tips for making your language learning easier. We must be honest, though, without putting in some effort, these tips won’t work. As the saying goes: no pain, no gain. However, if you implement language learning into your daily routine, the results will show!
1. Immerse yourself in reading
Whether you’re a bookworm or not, reading is the most effective method for becoming familiar with a new language. Language coursebooks should be your first step, and we don’t recommend skipping it. After mastering the basics, you can begin watching foreign news, reading lifestyle articles from sources other than domestic portals and even reading your favourite translated book in its original form. Phrases and words will stick in your head even better if you engage more senses by reading aloud.
2. Keep a pocket notebook handy
Look up every word you don’t know and write it down. These will become your own customized vocabulary notebook to accompany you on the go. Also, folding the pages in the middle (original–translation) can make navigating your notebook easier. Lastly, make sure to write by hand, just like at school, you’ll learn the words much easier that way.
3. Change all of your settings to the foreign language
(yes, that means your phone, computer and social media accounts)
Deceptively simple, this solution helps more than you may think. You use your phone and computer daily and work with them intuitively. Switching the language will automatically expose you to new vocabulary. This isn’t a massive shift, but it’s enough to get you started. And, more importantly—you will be working in a foreign language environment throughout your day.
4. Try language-learning mobile apps
Mobile apps for language-learning are now more popular than ever. And there are plenty to choose from with a wide range of criteria: your language level, learning approach or specific topics (business, travel etc.). We will discuss language-learning apps in more detail in a separate post on our blog.
5. Relax with music
Everyone has favourite songs that they love to sing along to. This can be a great way to learn proper pronunciation. But be careful you don’t end up with “eso son Reebok o son Nike”. If you’re a beginner, we recommend reading the original lyrics along with their translation. And, if it’s available, try looking for the phonetic transcript.
6. Watch a good film
Combine work with pleasure by watching a film, TV episode or a video in a foreign language. If you’re just starting out, turn on the subtitles in the same language, too. You’ll be able to listen to the language and follow the transcript and grammar simultaneously.
If you have yet to communicate in the language, you might feel like you understand nothing being said. Start with something simple instead, such as cartoons or films you know well. Before anything else, you need to develop an ear for the language. The visuals will help you keep pace.
More importantly, this method lets you absorb not only the language, but also the specifics of the culture, which is often just as important for understanding how to communicate. For example, watching the film “Il Mostro” by Italian director Roberto Benigni makes learning Italian well-worth the struggle! Your laughter muscles are in for a treat no matter your language level.
7. Talk to foreigners
If you have opportunities to talk to foreigners, do so as often as you can. While much can be learned just by listening, you will surely engage in your first conversation soon. If nobody is available to talk to, then written communication is an excellent alternative. Internet chat forums offer an easy method of discovering many virtual friends.
8. Think in a foreign language
Our brains never really stop, our minds are always buzzing with ideas: be it a shopping list, your weekend plans or even the funny thing that happened this morning. Here’s the trick: think about them in a foreign language. This is an easy way to practice “speaking” about everyday topics. If a specific expression doesn’t come to mind, try describing it.
Effectively learning a foreign language
Regardless of your methods, these basic rules will help you study effectively:
- Regular practice – study every day, for at least a few minutes.
- Set small goals – step by step you’ll stay motivated to keep learning. For example, you can look up, write down, and learn 7 new words every day. You only need 2,000 words to communicate in a foreign language. At this pace, you’ll learn 2,555 words in only one year.
- Have fun – learn with methods that you know you’ll enjoy. That way your brain won’t view language learning as a chore, and it won’t become an “annoyance”.
- Learn one language at a time – otherwise you could start mixing them up. Stick with one language for at least a year before taking on another.
- Combine methods – all of these methods develop different language skills. Mobile apps often build vocabulary, while reading improves both grammar and vocabulary. Films and songs familiarize you with the language’s specific sounds and teach you the correct pronunciations. Most difficult of all is finding the courage to communicate, but you won’t get far without it.
- Last, but not least: START – now. Not “tomorrow”, not “on Monday”, not “after the first midsummer full moon”.
It is never too late to learn a foreign language. Try different methods, find the system for you and reward yourself for your achievements. What do you say? Let’s start today!