Learning a Language at Home

Federico Fellini, a great Italian director, said “a different language is a different vision of life.” I certainly believe this phrase to be true, as knowing another language exposes you to a world entirely different from your own. Since middle school, I’ve enjoyed learning new languages and in college I love the courses that I’m taking. However,one downside is that I don’t have enough room in my schedule to take a language course. So, I’ve taken to learning a language on my own and I’ve compiled a few tips and tricks on how you can do it too.

1.     Sign up for free language learning apps and website

I’m sure you have heard of Duolingo, a free language learning software. It is a great resource that offers learning tracks for over 30 languages. What I love about this website is that you earn points for completing a lesson and maintaining streaks. Therefore, there is a strong incentive for you to keep up with your learning. Also, most schools and libraries grant you free access to language learning sites. For example, my local library has access to Transparent Language, which is another language learning program. There are certainly more websites out there, so definitely see what type of access you can get through your school or library card.

2.     Make a journal

Another trick is to create your own language journal. If you search for an introductory language course, you can easily find the syllabus to a college class and use that as a way to organize your journal. I like to make “chapters” that include a vocabulary and grammar section.  You can also personalize your journal, with lots of images and colors.

3.     FLASHCARDS FLASHCARDS FLASHCARDS

Personally, flashcards are my best friend when studying a language. I have two separate piles of flashcards, one for verbs and the other for vocabulary words. I like to draw doodles on them so that I can have some sort of visual clue as a memory aid. I also try to come up with fun ways to remember a specific word. For example, in Spanish the word “preguntar” means “to ask.” The way that I remember this is the fact that preguntar sort of looks like the word pregnant and you would never ask a woman if she’s pregnant, right? So, fun little anecdotes and using word play helps too.

4.     Watch movies, tv shows, YouTubers in the language you want to learn.

If you have a Netflix account, use it to watch movies and tv shows in the language that you want to learn. Not only does watching help improve your language skills, but it may help you learn more about the culture as well. YouTube is an amazing resource for language learning. In addition to watching YouTubers that are native speakers of the language you want to learn, there are YouTubers that teach you the language for free. One of my favorite channels is Damon and Jo because they have videos in different languages and teach you tips and tricks to help master certain languages, like French and Spanish.

5.     Listen to songs and podcasts

This is probably one of my most utilized tips. I don’t know about you, but if I like a song, I will listen to it on repeat and learn the lyrics. By doing this with foreign songs, you can learn so much vocabulary, plus you will definitely find some new, awesome music. If you have Spotify you can look at the top charts by country and just listen.  Another trick is to listen to podcasts. There are so many language learning podcasts out there. Most of them are free in the iTunes store and there are several on Spotify as well.

6.     Be patient, practice, and have fun!

Learning a new language takes time and practice. Give yourself plenty of time to get familiar with the language and culture. If you know a native speaker, reach out and practice with them. What’s the worst that can happen? Lastly, have fun! Learning a new language is challenging, but oh so rewarding too. It has exposed me to new cultures, great movies and music, and gave me a reason to add some new places to visit onto my bucket list.