Tips For Learning a Foreign Language

Bonjour.  Hola.  Hallo.  Privet.  Namaste.  Salaam.  Learning a new language is exciting.  It connects us to other cultures, teaches us to learn from our mistakes, and inspires us to travel to different countries.  Personally, I have been learning French since eighth grade and je l’aime.  During my studies, I discovered a few useful resources to help me learn.  These tools accommodate everyone from absolute beginners to more advanced learners.

Coffee Break

Coffee Break offers courses and free podcasts to users.  Their podcasts are divided into seasons based on skill level in French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Chinese.


Listening to radio stations in different countries is an obscure method to learning.  The hosts will speak quickly, but this is a great way to submerge yourself in fluent dialogue.  I frequently listen to the station RFI.  *Warning: you may have to change your VPN to connect in a different country.*

Commonly Used Words

Incorporate common foreign words into your native language when writing.  This may sound silly, though it helps.  Writing “et” or “y” instead of “and” allows you to cross think between languages, and it may save space.  Some common words include: and, as, if, more, less, to, is, there, here, when, why, for, and any possessive nouns and pronouns.

Children’s Songs and Books

Watch, listen to, or read kid’s books and songs.  The slower paced dialogue is perfectly tailored to new learners.  Good songs include “Days of The Week,” the alphabet, “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.”  If you are looking for a more personal approach, the Carnegie Library, along with most other public libraries, has a great collection of print, audio, and electronic books in multiple languages.


The flashcards and writing game on Quizlet are great ways to practice.  You can use accent marks and pictures, which will help in recognition of new words.

Word Reference

Forget Google Translate, Word Reference yields accurate translations in a multitude of languages.  They also offer dictionaries, conjugators, and forums.  The forums are interesting and often overlooked.  People from around the world can post and answer questions in both their native and foreign language.  The answers are usually accurate and appropriate.

Watch a Movie

The last tool in your new tool box are movies.  Watching a movie or documentary in a different language with subtitles is fun and informative.  Using subtitles in your native language helps strengthen auditory skills, while subtitles in the foreign language helps with word assimilation.

Wherever you are, I hope these resources will strengthen and enrich your learning process.

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