Many would argue that the best way to learn a language is to travel to a country where the language is spoken, immersing yourself in the culture for an extended period of time. But if you can’t do that, what is the next best thing?
French writer Alfred Mercier once said, “what we learn with pleasure, we never forget”. Integrating fun into the language learning process is far from being a distraction. On the contrary, it makes for a powerful learning strategy. Fun activities also boost learning because they motivate you to interact with the language. And motivation is possibly the most important factor in language learning.
Here are nine tips to help you add more fun into your language learning process as well as develop your speaking, writing, reading and listening skills, so you can communicate better in the foreign language you’re trying to master.
Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? Who hasn’t?! If you love music, why not try and find music (with lyrics) in your target language.
Listen to the song without reading the lyrics a few times. Once you’ve done that, look up the lyrics, then keep listening while reading along until the words begin to sink in. You’ll be singing along in no time! And if you fancy taking your lyrics’ knowledge to the next level, check out Lyrics training, a website designed as a game where you’ll fill in the lyrics of popular songs.
Video content in all languages has never been so readily accessible as it is today. So, plop down on the sofa and put on a film or TV show with subtitles in the language you’re trying to learn. It’s wonderful to mix in some entertainment into your learning approach as well as it is to get a glimpse into another culture.
Watching soap operas or other tv series is also a great way to learn the more colloquial expressions used in your target language. If there is a film or TV show that you love to re-watch, why not do it with subtitles in your target language? Or with the audio in your new language and subtitles in English?
You likely already read or watch the news, right? So why not do it in your new language? Reading or watching the news in your target language is another opportunity to practice your reading and listening skills. It’s also fascinating to view the world through the eyes of another culture.
We all cook from time to time. As a next step, try following a recipe in the language you’re learning. Cooking blogs are particularly useful, as you can translate words by clicking on them with the Google Translate extension. Food bloggers also frequently record videos of themselves cooking or baking, so how about checking out their video to see the finished product while working on your listening skills?
Do you have a specific hobby or interest? If you already spend time scouting the Internet for the best videos on pottery or woodworking, why not do it in your target language? This may even help you come up with new design ideas! Whether you’re a fashionista, a makeup addict, an avid gamer or just curious about anything and everything, you’ll no doubt find plenty of videos that’ll help you practice your listening skills in an engaging way.
If you’re still a beginner, children’s books are a wonderful way to start diving into a foreign language, as they are designed to be both easy and enjoyable. The images are eye-catching, the language is simple and most of the messages conveyed are universal. As you make progress, this is a habit you’ll want to keep, by moving onto more “serious” books. Who knows? Victor Hugo, Leon Tolstoy, Isabel Allende or J. K. Rowling may soon be on your bedside table in the original language.
Setting the interface of your phone, tablet or TV in your target language forces you to use that language every time you turn on these very addictive devices. Eventually, you will learn all the words and set phrases that allow you to get to your favorite apps and functions, and you’ll find that you’re navigating your device or app as quickly and easily as in your native language.
For a more hands-on approach, sign up on Meetup.com, a great place to find like-minded people who are also learning your target language or who are native speakers of your target language and would like to learn your mother tongue. Not only will you practice your listening and speaking skills, but you may make a friend or two.
As it says on the Drops website: “Drops is the new and fun way to learn a language that combines engaging word games with beautiful design. It has developed a cult following and become the fastest-growing language learning app in the world.” Specifically designed to keep you engaged with your learning, it is currently available in over 33 languages. Pick the language that you want to learn and have fun!
About the Author: Nathalie Serieys is a qualified English and Spanish to French translator. She offers French language services to a wide range of organisations and industries and helps them develop successful communications strategies intended to reach a French-speaking audience. Find out more about Nathalie and her services on her website or LinkedIn profile.
Drops: the new way to easily learn a language that combines engaging and fun word games with beautiful design. Learn more than 41 languages with fun, visual games. Try the fastest-growing language app in the world for free on iOS or Android.