Learning a new language is never easy. To master another language, you have to be dedicated and motivated as it takes a lot of time and energy.
I’ve been learning French for 10 years and I am still trying to nail complex verb conjugations, common phrases and more. As I anticipate to spend the next year abroad, I’m diving into the language more than ever so I can be as prepared as possible.
Aside from language classes and visiting Francophone countries, there are many other methods I’ve applied to learn the French language.
That being said, I hope you find the following tips and tricks helpful!
- Change your language settings on social media
About a year ago, I changed the language on my TikTok app to French. While at first I was annoyed with the constant confusion, I grew accustomed my the new “boîte de réception” (inbox).
If you are trying to learn a new language, I highly suggest switching the language on your most used social media app. This way, you will be forced to learn terms outside of a classroom. Try responding to other people’s comments as well.
Bonus tip: Follow influencers or comedians who are fluent in your target language. A few Francophone accounts that I follow include Alice Moitié, French Teacher Carlito and Hanae Violay. I love watching their videos and deciphering what they’re talking about.
- MAKE YOURSELF THINK IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE
In my opinion, this is the most successful method to learn a new language. Surprisingly, no one has ever recommended this to me and I just started doing it on my own.
When I first began learning French in middle school, I would repeat back English songs but translated into my own version of French lyrics. It sounds a little nerdy, but it was actually a really fun method to stimulate my brain.
- WATCH movies AND LISTEN TO MUSIC IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE
This is one of the most common tips that you will hear. Even if you’re laying in bed watching Netflix, you can still stimulate your brain by changing the language of your movie or show. I prefer to change the audio and then use English subtitles.
- CHOOSE A DAILY WORD
This tip came from one of my professors this past semester. He told me that when he was learning French in college, he would choose a word every day to use in class.
As part of some homework or in-class responses, I try to integrate new vocabulary words or verbs. For an extra challenge, you can memorize the verb conjugations. This may be difficult if you are not taking language classes.
If you aren’t inside of a classroom, you can add these words to a collective list inside of a journal or a Quizlet list.
- STAY CONSISTENT
As with any subject you try to learn, consistency truly is key. Last summer I noticed a moderate decline in my French level since I wasn’t in the classroom. Even over short breaks I struggle with my language learning.
To combat this, it’s important to integrate language learning as much as you can into your life. If you see strangers speaking your target language, introduce yourself to them. Have your friends and family ask you to translate sentences.
While it takes a bit of courage to approach native speakers, they are often appreciative of your cultural awareness!
Learning a new language is awkward and takes a ton of work. However, it is through this awkwardness that you truly master a language.
Remember — if you want to learn a language, you must focus on the words you don’t know more than the ones you already do know.
I hope these tips make it easier for you to become confident in your target language! “Bonne chance!”