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Five Ways to Stay on Top of Language Practicing Without Taking Classes

Learning a new language is one of the most beneficial things you can do. For me, it’s allowed me to make new friends, prepare to teach abroad, and get better opportunities from different job scouts, but learning in a classroom does not always fit into everyone’s schedule, so here are a few ways I keep up on the six languages I’m learning without being in a classroom.  


Duolingo is like a gift from the language Gods. If you need a refresher in your target language, or you are trying to learn new things, Duolingo has got you covered. You can test into a new language, do a placement test for an old language, or see which assignments you have to work on. The only downside is that they don’t combine all the languages you work on, so if you work on Spanish one day and Mandarin another day, then the owl will say you haven’t been practicing the other language even though you have a schedule. 

Language Journal 

For anyone who is advanced in a specific language, a language journal is the way to go. You can write your daily activities, about your love life, or whatever it is you would write in your paper journal in your second language. For any words you needed to look up, you can highlight and add the definition of it. Then, you can keep up with all the grammar and vocabulary you have learned, and as you learn new grammar and vocabulary you can test it out in your writing. 

Language Exchange Apps

I know this one seems sort of crazy because talking to strangers is a huge “no-no” when you’re a kid. For me, it was super nerve-wracking until I realized that everyone was just there to learn. If you can find a good partner that speaks your target language, then the two of you can really hit it off and expand not only your knowledge of the language but also of the culture and history as well. 

Study Group

Finding a good study group can also be key to developing your language skills outside of class. You can mix native speakers and non-native speakers in one group or just stick to your non-native speaking friends that are very interested in getting better at their target language. Find a good book, I found the Yonsei University Korean books for my group, and meet up once a week to work on it together or bring up questions. It’s always a good idea to ask a native speaker if any of you are confused, but if you cannot, the answers will also probably be in the book. 

Grammar or Vocabulary Books

I stated this in the previous category as well, but finding a grammar book or vocabulary book that is at your level and at the upper levels will really help you out. If you have studied abroad or know a school that has its own set of books for language learning, buy it or download the digital version. Those books are made for people like you and a lot of time they provide extra insight on what sounds natural, different variations of vocabulary, and some of them provide listening so you can hear how native speakers sound. 

There are a lot of things you can do to practice languages outside of the classroom, but these are some of the ones that I use all the time to keep up to date, practice, or start the languages I find interesting. Whether your goal is to become a high-level speaker or just refresh yourself on what you learned in high school, the things on this list should help you reach your goal. 

I am an MSU senior studying Linguistics and Media/Information. I am minoring in TESOL and Korean in hopes of going abroad to teach and visit my friends that all live internationally.
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