Thinking about language learning as a game is a great way to go about it. Sure, you’ll need to put some hard work too but to succeed it really helps to have fun. When you think about learning a new language in that way, you start to see opportunities in many different place. Here are some things that’s been working for me:
1. Social Media in Your Target Language
Did you know that an average user spends almost 2 and a half hours on social media in 2020? Even if you’re not a heavy social media user, setting your social media in your target language will give you everyday exposure.
It’s also pretty easy to learn vocabulary that way because you’re dealing with an interface you already know. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can set your phone to your target language too.
I’ve been mostly successful with this technique apart from one dreadful episode when I was having a go at Arabic (you can read about lessons from my language learning failures here). I was unable to do anything on my phone because I was so confused. It took me a few hours to set my phone back to a language I could actually understand!
You can also use social media to learn languages by following certain accounts. I’ve written about it in my post “How to Use Instagram to Help You Learn a Language“.
2. Sticky Notes
Whenever my student struggles with a particular word or expression for a long time I ask them to write it down and stick it to their fridge. They laugh but they do it and it helps. If you’re dealing with a number of words you’re trying to remember, you may spread them around the house too.
Looking at a given expression a few times a day, will help you remember it. Stubborn expressions are, well, stubborn so you need to defeat the enemy with their own weapons.
Sticky notes are also super useful for learning household vocabulary, when you stick names of items in your house in your target language on these items. Are you worried about the environment? Most sticky notes are recyclable (have a look at the FAQ section of Post-It, for instance).
A fair warning: this method has its limits. The more sticky notes around, the more likely you are to stop paying attention to them. You should also change them regularly because feeling that you “know” a word will make you overlook it.
This is a trick that I discovered on a toilet once when I had nothing to read so I started to study labels on the toilet paper packaging. Labels for cosmetics, cleaning products, medication, packed food and similar are usually translated to a number of languages. It’s easy to understand what it says in your target language as you can compare it to the language you know.
Labels are a cool tool because they give you naturally sounding words and expressions and not just a translation without the context, which is often the case with dictionaries. You can also squeeze this trick in quite easily, when doing your household chores or waiting for a cup of tea to brew.
Language learning podcasts such as coffee break languages or news in slow… are great for beginners and intermediate students, while more advanced students can benefit from actual podcasts in their target language.
You can listen to podcasts when shopping, commuting or cleaning the house. You can also add them to you runs or dog walks. In other words, whenever your hands are free you can squeeze a bit of listening comprehension in.
Just a note to working with language learning podcasts: make sure there’s not too much banter in a language different to your target language. Some podcasts can be very entertaining to listen to and teach you a lot about the culture of a given country, but if there’s not enough of the target language you’ll unlikely to see any progress.
5. Daily News and Content
If you follow the news, you can switch to listening to it or reading it in your target language. I’d recommend reading at lower levels, unless there’s an “easy news” option you’ve found.
You don’t read the news? Try reading about things you’re interested in, in your target language.
In the beginning shorter articles work better, you can even just have a look at the headlines daily. The point of building habits like this is that they will be more and more helpful as your understanding increases.
A good way to work with news and content is also reading about the same topic in two languages which significantly increases your understanding. Spend 10 minutes a day doing that and you’ll see for yourself what I mean.
I hope this list of language learning opportunities will be helpful to you. If you don’t know how to use a method for your level, let me know in the comments section and I’ll gladly help. Do you have your own tricks? Do share!
Adiós por ahora, queridos amigos! Hablamos pronto!