Easy Ways to Learn a Foreign Language

You know what they say about learning foreign languages: you have to spend at least 15 minutes a day practicing in them to get fluent. I don't know about you, but as much as I want to be fluent in as many languages as possible, some of those foreign language learning programs are so boring or expensive! Here are some easy and fun ways to incorporate your foreign language of choice into your everyday routine, without Duolingo texting you like a sad ex: 

1. Find music you like in that language. The Internet has the power to bring the world to your fingertips, so why not use it? I love using Spotify because people can share their playlists, and out of all the people who speak your target language, somebody's bound to have the same music taste as you.  I like music better than podcasts for learning languages just because the melody helps me remember rhythms of words better, but if podcasts are more your speed, feel free! 

2. Watch movies and television in that language. As you get more and more comfortable, you can switch from English subtitles to the original subtitles to subtitle-free watching. Even if you're not fluent enough to understand what they're saying, it's important for you to hear the sound of native speakers and be able to match up actions in the show with what they're saying. In classes, you get to hear a very specific version of your target language: it's super clear, often very slow, and there's not that much emotion. Watching TV is a way to get a feel for what "real" people sound like in that language. If you can't find a show that interests you, a lot of Netflix shows have multiple audio options, so you can just watch something you already like and know with your language instead. Plus, this way you can say you're being productive while you're binge-watching Netflix.  

3. Change your settings to your target language. This is what I would call the hard mode. You already know your way around your electronic devices pretty well, so you should in theory be able to navigate, but this is a great way to expand your vocabulary beyond what they teach you in class really quickly. If you're a real glutton for punishment and you have an iPhone, you can also change your Siri to speak in that language. A native speaker is going to be able to understand your accent pretty well, and being understood by Siri in English is hard enough – but getting an AI to understand you in a foreign language forces you to really think about what you're saying and focus on enunciating clearly. It's not for the faint of heart. Speaking from personal experience, French Siri is an unforgiving companion when you're lost.  

Having fun is the best way to learn anything, and hopefully these tips can get you started! Bonne chance! 

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