Tips on how to learn a new language

Hey guys, how are you doing? I’m still cooped up in my home due to the corona virus, and aside from working, I’ve been searching for things to do. The following weeks I will give you some tips for the stuck-at-home traveler. Booksseries and movies and games that fellow wanderlusters might enjoy, because they will transport you to the places you can’t actually visit right now.

When you’re feeling like you’ve read all the books, seen everything there is to see on Netflix and finished playing every game, you might get the feeling: I want to do something productive! Lots of peoples bucketlists are not just endless lists of places they want to visit, but they also include topics such as learning a new skill – or a new language. And what would be a better time to start learning a new language, than when you’re locked up in your own home, bored out of your mind? Time for some tips!

For years I have been saying that I want to learn French. I studied the language in high school but never did much with it later. How lovely would it be to be able to order a croissant in Nice, speaking French? Having converstations with locals in their own language? To be able to say that I speak three languages?

All of that would be kinda cool, if you ask me. Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, where Liz learns to speak Italian just for the fun of it, I decided to make work of my new language.

The trick to learning something new is dedication, time and repetition. You have to be willing to put some time and effort in your studies, otherwise you won’t get far. Lots of people start enthusiastically with a new skill, but they get bored soon and quit after a week or so. If you really want to do this, make an agreement with yourself. Set goals, make a plan and challenge yourself.

But how?

The best way to learn a new language is from your own native tongue. I am native Dutch so for me it’s way easier to learn how to speak French from the Dutch language. So I bought a grammar book and a dictionary Dutch- French, rather than English-French, just because it’s easier. Why make it harder than it already is?

There are three ways you can start. You can set up for an (online) course, you can use an app or you can opt for a selfstudy course. Of course, you can also choose to combine two or three.

I opted for the selfstudy method along with an app, because I like to do this in my own time. I bought a grammar book and a dictionary, and started using the app Duolingo. Then I made a lesson plan that includes fun things to keep myself motivated.

Lesson Plan

I wrote down a plan in which I go through my grammar book in about 20 lessons, dividing the book into little pieces. For instance, I read a chapter on verbs and then use the dictionary to learn 5 new verbs and use them in a sentence. I bought a cute notebook that reminds me of the south of France to write down everything and every 5th lesson I will go over these new words again. Because repetition is key if you’ll want the new words to stick in your brain.

I also included some fun things, like watching the aristocats in French, or read a chapter of my favourite book in French. You could also choose to play a game in the language you want to learn, listen to podcasts or watch television.

Apps to learn a new language

There are a lot of apps out there that will try to teach you a new language. Some are expensive, some are cheap. The app I like best is Duolingo. It’s free, there are not too many annoying commercials (to keep it free) and it’s fun and easy to navigate. I like it because you practice all aspects of a new language: reading, writing, listening and speaking.

My tips is to try some apps, see which one works best for you. Besides duolingo, there’s Babbel, Italki, Busuu and countless others.

Tips and tricks

  • Start from your own native language
  • Set goals, like I want to do two lessons a week, or I want to practice with Duolingo every day for ten minutes
  • Make this fun for yourself, be dedicated, but don’t ask too much of yourself. Be realistic in making planss
  • Emerge yourself in your new language. Watch tv, read books, try writing letters to yourself. Play animal crossing, read your favourite book or watch a simple movie in your new language
  • Repetition is key, so make sure not to go too fast. Go back to what you’ve learned once in a while and see how much of it you remember.

Good luck, have fun, stay safe and stay home ♥

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