Children pick up a new language in no time. Unfortunately, as an adult it is not that easy anymore. Taking language classes is not only expensive but also time consuming. Therefore, a lot of people quit learning a language after some time because it’s just too much to handle in addition to work and family responsibilities or they don’t even begin learning it in the first place. But after reading this article, the oft-used excuse “I don’t have time” won’t count anymore because here are five easy ways to learn a new language which you can include in your daily life without much trouble!
One of the easiest and probably most fun ways to learn a language is a language tandem. The method is based on a mutual language exchange. Ideally, you are both native speakers of the language the other person wants to learn. There is no set rule on how you organize your meetings: you can talk over coffee about everything under the sun or do different language exercises — it’s completely up to you. Language tandems are not only fun, they also have several advantages: you get to practice your oral communication skills, you get to know a different culture, and you might even meet locals and make some new friends!
What is better than having a coffee, reading the paper, and enjoying the calm before a long day at work? Not much. That’s why you should definitely stick to this morning ritual with only one little modification: replace your home country’s newspaper with the one from your current home. Reading the local newspaper is not only a great way to get more comfortable with the language’s sentence structure, seeing new words and concepts visually also helps to reinforce the memory of them. And you can choose the pace of learning yourself. Last but not least, it also gives you an idea of what is going on in your local community.
It is as simple as it sounds: watching television is an easy way to learn a language and pick up new vocabulary and phrases. Be it the daily news, a cooking show, or even a kids program, hearing the sound of a language and getting the feel for pronunciation is the key to successfully learning a language. And the best thing is you can watch whatever it is you’re interested in and improve your skills at the same time.
If it goes too fast and you have trouble understanding what is being said, try watching it with subtitles (in the local language, of course). Nowadays, you can add subtitles to many television programs and they might help you pick up on what is going on. And this method is not only limited to television; it also applies for going to the cinema. Instead of watching your favorite movie for the hundredth time online, enjoy a night out at the movies with a film in the local language.
Another great way to pick up new vocabulary is by listening to the radio. And by combining it with your commute to work, you don’t even have to make extra time for it. As pointed out before, knowing how to properly pronounce a language will help you feel more confident speaking it. You’ll get an ear for the different local dialects if you switch between regional radio stations.
And don’t worry if you’re only getting the occasional word; you’re still getting something. While listening to the radio, you are exposed to the intonation and rhythm of the local language and this will help you improve your accent and fluency when you speak. Even better, you’ll start picking up very colloquial expressions that’ll have you sounding like a local. Try it the next time you go to work and get fluent in no time!
Last but not least: practice by speaking as much as you can and whenever you can. You won’t be a confident and fluent speaker if you don’t practice speaking. And most importantly: don’t be afraid of making mistakes — this is how you learn. Talk to the lady from your bakery about the weather or ask random people on the street for the time. The more you speak and actually practice, the quicker you are going to see improvements. It’s all about getting used to speaking the language. And most of the times you will get immediate feedback and ideally, also a friendly correction from the native speaker.
Alina Anto is from a small town in the north of Switzerland and studies Applied Languages at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. After living in Spain and the French-speaking part of Switzerland, she now lives in Munich, enjoying the “big city life”. She’s currently an intern in the Content & Communications Department at InterNations.