Everything you need to start learning a new language!
Hello everyone! I’m really excited to bring you all the tips I have on learning a new language from home! I’ve been learning French fluently for the past few months, and although I’m not quite there yet I am making great progress!
Learning a new language can be very daunting, it takes time and dedication – as well as lots and lots of practice. I do have an advantage learning French as I studied it in school, however by the time I got round to studying it again this year, I had very little of what I had learned left!
Anyone can learn a new language with a few base steps! There are so many simple methods to increasing your knowledge of any given language, especially with the internet at your fingertips!
For the purposes of this guide, I will use French as an example – but you can do this with any language you want to learn.
So, why should you learn a new language?
For your Brain!
An article by FluentU indicates that learning a new language actually makes your brain bigger! Yep, you can increase your brain mass within three months of learning a language, which is crazy if you ask me! This can lead to a much healthier brain in the long run. It is also said that it can improve your memory and decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
For your Studies/Work
Learning a new language can not only make your brain healthier, it can also open up a whole world of possibilities! If you are studying in college, learning a new language (even outside your course) can really benefit you, especially if you are planning on an Erasmus year. You will find it much easier to settle in if you can communicate well with native speakers.
Similarly, if you decide you want to take your career abroad, learning a new language is essential! Even if it’s just a pipe dream, why not just learn French on the off chance you decide to go and live there one day! It’s a lot easier to learn a new language when it’s not rushed!
To impress yourself! (and others maybe!)
The most important reason, I consider, for learning a new language is yourself. Do it to challenge yourself, do it to accomplish something massive and make yourself proud in the process. Just knowing you went from knowing barely anything about the language to forming coherent sentences is seriously impressive!
Do it for yourself, to show yourself what you’re capable of – and in some cases, to show others. Show off your new talent! (In a non gloating way, of course!)
So, now that we’ve established the whys, let’s get on to the hows! How can you actually learn a language at home and with little or no cost?
It’s actually a lot more simple than you’d think! As it happens, a lot of people claim to have great success with self taught languages – If my progress continues I can definitely see myself falling into that category.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t attend a course – heck if I could afford it and make the time I would totally do it that way. But honestly, as much as I love learning French, I don’t have a couple of hundred euros to invest in it. I also find it much more rewarding to organise my own notes and I love stumbling across new platforms to learn with.
Here’s some great ways to learn a new language!
Analyse your ability to learn languages.
An important step, in my opinion, before you begin to learn a new language is to measure your flare for them. An easy way to do this is to think back to school! Most people have to learn a different language during their schooling life, in my case I had both Irish and French to learn!
Before I took up French properly I thought back to my time in school. Here’s some questions to consider before learning a language:
– Did you have a natural flare for languages during your studies? If yes, learning a language will be a lot easier! If no, fear not, the only difference is the pace at which you are learning. If you found languages particularly difficult you will more than likely need to spend more time learning the basics, which may slow you down but will be very rewarding in the long run.
– Did you hate grammar… like a lot? It’s no secret, grammar just sucks. You can dress it up any way you like but grammar is both difficult and tedious and can really throw off your learning. Think about how much you hated learning grammar. Grammar is even more important when you are learning a language to become fluent, you cannot put it on the back burner. If grammar is a total no – go for you, maybe learning a new language just isn’t for you! And that’s okay!
– Did you hate the language you were learning? Some people assume they will not be able to learn a language based on the fact that they hated learning one particular language. A lot of the time, a person will struggle with a subject simply because they hate it! If you struggled learning a language, maybe that one just wasn’t for you! Do some research and see if you can find another language you would enjoy more!
Get/Try Duolingo! (not affiliated, I just love this app!)
Okay, so a friend told me about Duolingo a few months back and ever since I have been addicted! What I love so so much about this app is, it basically covers the whole language for you! It encourages everyday use and gives you a number of lessons to choose from.
Every few days it will also try and get you to re-do a lesson to strengthen your knowledge which I absolutely love. It gives you an estimation of your fluency in the language too, how cool is that!
I don’t recommend using Duolingo alone though, I think the app needs to be paired with outside learning from other sources, so you get more rounded lessons. Plus, the app makes writing notes hard to do as it is so addictive you’ll just want to keep playing! Research the lessons you cover in Duolingo from other sources too, you will learn a lot more that way!
A lot of popular languages are covered in Duolingo, even Irish is available!
Learn a song in the language you want to learn.
Okay so maybe some of my ideas are odd, but bare with me on this! When I was learning French in school we were made to listen to a song by Mika – ‘Elle m’a dit’. This song was infectiously enthusiastic and extremely catchy. The thing kept getting stuck in my head, but I had no idea what the actual words were! I eventually learned the song off by heart as well as the translation and it’s helped tremendously with my learning as the language and grammar used in it tends to come up in everyday French conversation. It really really helps!
It seems like a silly idea, but trust me nothing is more impressive than belting out a song in another language while you are in the shower!
Dedicate a whole notebook to your language!
A book with nothing other than your language work will help you to stay focused. Don’t just jot down words and sentences, be really creative! Try some simple mind maps, use bright colours and maybe add some little illustrations to really make your notebook memorable! Keeping a neat record of all your learning will help you to remember it clearer!
Use YouTube to your advantage!
With a whole multitude of videos to choose from, learning a language on YouTube can be really rewarding and fun! Using your lesson plan from Duolingo, look for a video based on this topic. It may just be someone sitting down and teaching you, or a slideshow! It is vital to take notes during these lessons. What makes it easier is being able to pause and reply any at any point! Try pausing the video and repeating what a speaker says out loud, it really helps to strengthen your spoken French. Be super careful of pronunciations, you may end up saying something you didn’t mean by saying a word wrong!
Watch TV shows and movies in that language.
I love this idea, I’ve started getting into it more recently. I remember always hearing about people who learned the majority of what they know of a language by watching shows and movies with subtitles. Watching shows in the language you’re learning almost helps you to put the language into perspective. You really get to see how it is used and you are exposing yourself to it for long periods of time without getting bored! (If you choose the right thing to watch!)
You also learn a lot about the mannerisms and slang of native speakers. A lot of the time we never really get to learn how to speak to another language speaker in the same way we would speak to someone in English. This is because we learn a lot about formal language and not so much about slang.
In French, there are two versions of the world you, for example. Tu – means you, but only to people you know and are comfortable enough to be informal around. Vous is used to describe anyone older than you or for Doctors, Teachers etc, as well as being the plural you. Most of the learning we experience focuses on the basics, not the advanced ‘between friends’ conversation. That is really where movies and shows step in. And of course you will pick up on expletives and swear words through movies and television, something not many lesson plans cover!
It also helps to note that many cartoons such as Family Guy and The Simpsons are available to watch in multiple languages, if you can get past a different cast of voice actors!
Using these techniques, you are likely to thrive in learning a new language. You will need time and patience to really perfect your new found skills. Remember, there are many different tricks to learning, what works for you may not work for your neighbour! Experiment and have fun with it, you will be amazed at the outcome!
If you have any tips on learning a new language, let me know below I would love to hear them!