Learning a new language has something in common with just about any other learned skill: it takes a lot of practice to get good at. And with all the language-learning resources available on the internet these days, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with options and not know how best to begin learning the language you want.
Those wishing to pick up a second (or third, or fourth or…) language can choose between various great, free services that offer tons of bite-sized courses to ease you into your new language. Then there are other, paid services, which promise comprehensive lessons that take you from beginner to advanced without a hitch. Read on to discover some effective, self-provided language learning methods you can easily add to your daily learning routine.
Many people who’ve mastered a second language like German will be quick to tell you how consistency is the key thing to making sure what you learn sticks. This advice holds true no matter what method you use to learn the language you want to pick up. Arguably the easiest method to ensure consistent practice, however, is by holding conversations in the language you’re learning.
Talking with others in a new language is definitely a daunting prospect, and admittedly difficult to dive into when you’re just starting out with a new language. If you think about language classes you might have taken while you were in school, though, you might remember how much your teacher stressed the importance of keeping English out of your talking exercises.
Even if you only know a limited amount of words in the language you’re learning so far, conversing with others at a level you’re comfortable with is likely the best way to both reinforce and expand upon your new language skills.
If you’re not able to hold regular conversations with others speaking in the language you’re learning, you can always listen to others talk in that language instead. There are likely tons of videos readily available online that feature people conversing in the language you want to learn. Just like conversing in a new language, watching others speak is a handy way to immerse yourself in a new language, and to get comfortable with how it sounds.
When you begin to start watching videos of people talking in order to learn a new language, you may find that you’re not quite able to catch all the words being said on the first, second, third, or who even knows how many playthroughs — this is totally normal and should be expected when you first start learning a new language. The goal to have in mind when watching videos in an effort to pick up a new language doesn’t have to be about capturing every word or phrase that’s said. Instead, your aim should be to ease yourself into the language you’re learning, rather than force yourself into it through too much trial and error without much payoff.
If you don’t feel ready to completely guide yourself through building your new fundamental language skills, it is easier than ever to take advantage of language learning courses, be they at a school or online. The merits of having a trained professional guide you through forming a good structure off which to learn a new language should not be overlooked, even if you may still want to take the lead in your learning. What is especially great about online language learning courses is the fact that you can combine them with your own learning style and at your own pace.
Reinforcing what you’ve already taught yourself about your new language with the structure of a course is a great way to take advantage of resources that are online, and helps keep stress levels at a minimum. In fact, many courses you can subscribe to online incorporate exercises that encourage you to either speak aloud or watch videos with people talking, which can go a long way in permanently adding to your confidence if you decide to structure your learning yourself.
Similar to enrolling in or subscribing to language learning courses, picking up a book written in the language you’re trying to learn and diving is helpful if you’d like a bit of direction. A book in your new language might range from firmly academic to fictional literature, and the same goes for its level of difficulty — whatever you think will help you most enjoy your time learning.
Total beginners to a new language might want to consider starting with a book that is relatively easy to stick with, such as a children’s book, while those with a bit more experience can try guiding themselves through denser works, such as books intended for a particular course. Whatever book it is that you decide to work with, you’ll be exposed to lots of words that are likely regularly used by people speaking your new language, and might get some inspiration for how best to guide yourself in your language learning adventure moving forward.
Writing out passages using words you’ve learning in your new language is another effective method to lock down what you’ve learned. You can think of writing in your new language kind of like you would about taking notes in class. The great thing about writing in your new language is that it doesn’t matter what exactly it is you write, only that you continuously pen down what’s in your head at the time of writing.
This can be as simple as writing down a single word that you’ve just picked up and might not want to forget too soon. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can write out scenarios that include people talking to each other in the language you’re learning. Writing in your new language is an easy way to get really creative with how you remember new words, grammatical rules, phrases, and more. And who knows, you might even feel inspired to write more in general. If you decide you do want to go the writing route, consider keeping a journal of pages dedicated to what you want to talk about in your new language, and make sure you add to it regularly so you don’t forget too much of what you’ve learned too.
You may find that blending a few of the methods works best for your language learning journey. What is most important to how well you learn your new language is sticking with a method you can enjoy in the long-term.
Once you discover what method is most fun for your language learning, you’ll be amazed at how easily you are able to stick with your new education.