5 Best Ways to Learn a Language
Updated: Mar 30, 2019
Speaking different languages is probably everybody’s dream, but learning always seems to be too much efforts for the majority of us. However, learning a language is like any other skill we all have ; it takes will, commitment and practice. And especially if you want to travel, it is more helpful when you speak at least two languages, even if you’re an english native speaker. Don’t limit yourself ! You will feel more excited and confident when you get to your next trip overseas.
Let me tell you how I personnaly learn how to speak almost fluently my second language. Screw school ! I made it easy and fun for myself.
1. Use fun apps.
Instead of scrolling Facebook or Instagram in your bed after you just woke up, spend 20 minutes to half an hour practicing. Download a free app on your phone to work on your language skill : Memrise and Busuu are very good and interactive, but my personal favourite is Duolingo. It lets you naturally progress on your own pace, starting with the basics. You can challenge yourself with a whole range of activities like writing, reading and pronunciation and you get praised for your efforts.
I recommend doing this on the morning because it is usually the time of the day when our brain is the most productive, or whenever you get bored, you know what to do. If you do it once a day, you will be amazed by yourself within the first two months.
2. Translate your favourite songs.
When I was young, I was always a bit better in English than most of my classmates. The French education system is not as good as the rest of the european countries when it comes to foreign languages. One day, my dad gave me an old French/English dictionary he used to have at school so I could improve my vocabulary.
I decided to translate my favourite english songs to understand their meanings. No need to say it helped me a lot more than boring English classes.
So get a small dictionary and try to translate everything that comes to your mind, songs, stories, etc. Learning starts with a bit of curiosity.
3. Watch Netflix movies and shows in original version.
The most relaxing way to learn ! Since I have been doing it, there is no way I could watch a movie in french version. Not only the original version makes the movie more genuine but you can improve your language skill without even realising it !
As a start, activate the subtitles of your language and after a few months, try out the original subtitles.
The Education Minister of Spain Angel Gabilondo said « This is a determining factor in the knowledge of languages : in countries where films are not dubbed, people speak English better. »
That is probably why French people are so struggle to speak another language. Absolutely everything is dubbed. In fact, France is a great performer at revoicing films and TV shows, making the french voice match with the original actor’s personality. But the inconvenience is no one actually feels the need to speak another language !
So next time you watch your favourite Netflix show, even if you are an English native speaker, put some subtitles of the language you want to learn, and chill while you’re getting smarter.
4. Stick with the locals.
If you want to be successful at something, you need to get with the right people. You want to learn French ? Stick with French people ! (I know I said that on purpose, please stick with meeeeee !) LOL.
More importantly when you go visit a new country, make friends with the locals. Ask for help, grab a drink and have a chat ! If you feel a bit stuck, Google Translate is your best mate. Don’t stress, people can be very patient and understanding.
I started speaking English relatively well after 6 months in Australia when I made friend with a Swedish girl who spoke english perfectly. Not only she was very easy to understand, I also learned so much that I could have smooth and long conversations. On top of that she taught me loads of insults so I could easily integrate into the Australian mentality. That was so much fun. As a result I couldn’t really explain to you my toughts about the israelo-palestinian conflict but I could proudly tell you to go f*ck yourself in English. Yay.
Anyway I’m going a bit too far right now, sorry !
So my advice is, get around people. This is the best way to practice, you’ll make new friends and you’ll probably explore the country more. Staying in an Airbnb or a guesthouse is, in my opinion, better than staying at a hotel as you actually get to experience the local lifestyle. After all, travelling is all about getting out of our comfort zone, right ?
5. Don’t take yourself seriously.
By all means, take risks. It’s okay if you make mistakes, it’s okay if people laugh a bit at you. They’re not being judgemental, they just think you’re cute and interesting. Remember that mistakes are part of the process, and people will always help you out to fix them. Don’t be scared to force on the pronunciation and the tone in order to mimic a particular accent. Just go with the flow, try new words, new phrases, new expressions and people will really appreciate it. They probably already admire you for being able to speak two languages.
Also, don't be too hard on yourself. Keep learning, keep practicing, and without even noticing it, you're already bilingual.
Eileen - Pretty Little Mantras.