With winter almost upon us and the long, dark evenings looming ahead, it can be a great time to start up new hobbies – and as language teaching specialists, we always recommend learning a new language! Get started with our five tips to improve your language learning.
Read a variety of materials
Fiction books, self-help guides, news articles, agony aunt columns, blogs, social media posts… the written word comes in many forms! Whether you’re learning French or Finnish, engage in the language by reading it in a variety of formats. This will help introduce you to linguistic nuances for different audiences (e.g. slang if you’re following foreign social media accounts) and by surrounding yourself with different media, you’ll be learning more frequently than you might think.
Watch familiar movies
Ask someone of a different nationality how they learnt English, and chances are Friends, Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings were some of their most-watched TV series/films. Why? Because rewatching something you already know well means that you’re less likely to focus on the plot and you have more headspace to follow the dialogue. Try watching a film or sitcom you know back-to-front and putting foreign subtitles on to test your language reading skills.
Keep a journal
One of the best ways to sustain a writing habit is to write in a diary every day. Considering that a journal/diary is a personal item, there are no rules; you can write about what you did that day, your feelings/thoughts, or even keep a list. This means that you can practise writing in the language you’re learning without any anxiety about mistakes – the point of the exercise is to just get the gist of the language (although it may be useful to ‘check’ the accuracy of your grammar/spelling etc at the end of each week, for progress’ sake!).
Listen to podcasts
Listening can be a hard skill to develop when it comes to learning a foreign language – particularly when it’s a language spoken at speed (e.g. French or Spanish). Podcasts can help you comprehend the language, especially when you slow them down – a useful function not applicable to in-person conversations! Most podcasts are free to listen to, meaning you can enhance your listening skill for no cost at all. Check out this useful, comprehensive list of free foreign language podcasts.
Know your motivation
Skills take time to develop and it takes 66 days on average to build a new habit. With this in mind, it’s all too easy to start learning a new skill and abandon it quickly without any form of routine or end goal in sight. Learning a new language takes time and dedication, so make sure you know what you’re working for right from the start. Are you learning a language to travel or work? Or do you want to read books in other languages? No matter what it is, always keep that final goal in sight to help you motivated on the journey to polyglotism!