Whether you’re planning on moving overseas or simply want to arm yourself with some local lingo for your next holiday, learning a new language is an incredibly rewarding experience. As well as giving your brain a workout, speaking a second language unlocks a whole new perspective on a foreign destination. You’ll get to chat with locals, breeze through menus and most importantly, feel like you’re really living and breathing the culture.
Whether you consider yourself a “language person” or not, these five steps will help you master your new tongue in a matter of months. OK, so you might not be fluent but you’ll definitely be able to hold a conversation.
Immerse yourself in the language
Learning a language is so much more than simply sitting down with a workbook and practicing phrases. You’ve really got to immerse yourself in the experience so try to incorporate the language into your day wherever you can. We love the idea of sticking Post-it notes onto everyday objects to help build your noun vocabulary. You can also start to read children’s books in the language you’re trying to learn, watch your favourite TV shows with foreign subtitles and start to listen to local music. There are so many ways to incorporate a new language into your life, so get creative and have some fun with it.
Get tech savvy
Gone are the days when all you had to help you learn a language was a pencil and paper. Today, apps make it fun and easy to learn a new language. From Spanish to French, Duolingo is the world’s most popular way to navigate your way around a new language. Not only is it 100% free but it’s also science-based which means it really does work. Audio books are also a fantastic way to learn a new language, especially if you spend a lot of time commuting to work, gardening, cooking or doing any other activity that allows you to learn on the go.
Find a partner
Practice makes perfect, and the saying has never been so true when it comes to learning a language. It’s not enough to simply memorise words and phrases. To truly get a grasp on a new language you need to speak it out loud and engage in conversations. Meetup is a fantastic resource that can connect you with fellow learners and fluent speakers in your local area. You can also use classified websites like Gumtree to track down partners. Language exchanges are a popular way to practice, and basically involve you meeting up with someone who speaks the language you’re trying to learn. So, you might chat in Spanish for half an hour, then switch to English and help them practice in return. Not only is it effective but it’s also a great way to make new friends. Plus it’s a great excuse to enjoy a coffee!
Commit to classes
Sad but true, guilt tripping yourself is often one of the best ways to stay motivated. So, in the same way that you force yourself to go to the swimming pool several times a week because you’ve already paid for a yearly membership, why not sign up for language classes? From local universities to private language schools, lessons will help you stay focussed, motivated and making progress.
Plan a trip
Feeling confident? If you’re lucky enough to have the time and financial freedom to travel why not plan a trip for the ultimate cultural immersion experience? While chatting to locals can be intimidating at first, most people are more than happy to slow down their words and help you practice. Remember, a smile and a sense of humour always go a long way. You’ll probably end up asking for a glass of handsome instead of a glass of water, but that’s all part of the learning journey right?
Still need a little inspiration? We’ll leave you with this absolutely beautiful Polish Christmas advert that went viral last year. The grandfather’s efforts to learn English will melt your heart, and are guaranteed to jerk a tear or two.