When you hear the phrase “language learning”, how many of you think about your past language classes? Have you ever judged your own ability to speak or learn another language based on your grades in those classes?
I ask you those questions because I can relate to it. In college, I dropped out of a low intermediate class due a high likelihood that I’d fail the course. Nonetheless, I moved to Spain with beginner Spanish and that's when I started to learn to love how I learned Spanish. I listened to fun music in the language, used language learning applications and also searched for information surrounding my interests to enforce grammar and vocabulary learned in class abroad.
If you’re taking a short trip, or if you’re going to study abroad, you’ll enjoy preparing and practicing your language learning skills ahead of time in a way that's fun for you.
These are our four tips to embrace your own language learning journey:
1. Listening is Crucial!
The first part of your language-learning journey starts with taking some time to embrace the sounds and the new language. At first, you might feel like the words and phrases are bouncing off you and that’s normal when you start listening to another language!
If you’ve taken language classes in the past, fantastic! You already have some tools in the toolbox, but the biggest part of the journey involves listening because it’s the majority of what we do as human beings.
We actually spend more time during our lives listening than writing, reading, or speaking. According to the University of Missouri, we spend 45% of our lives listening as opposed to 30% speaking, 9% writing and 16% reading. Isn’t that amazing?
2. Find Your Music In Your New Language
To take your listening to the next level, you have to find some good music in your new language. Everyone has their favorite genre of music, and chances are that your music exists in another language! You’ll love the process of language learning if you find songs and artists that grab your attention.
If you search the genre and the name of the language then you’ll be surprised what you find, and don’t be discouraged if the music or song is fast! As you listen to the song more, you’ll go from hearing mainly noise and catching a word or two to understanding phrases and eventually understanding the entire song.
There’s a website called LyricsTraining that allows you to listen to a beginner, intermediate or advanced song that allows you to type the lyrics as you hear them. It was one of my favorite tools when I started learning Spanish!
3. Focus On Your Interests
Beyond only music, you’ll widen your vocabulary in your new language if search for your interests in another language. One of the easiest ways to start embracing a new language is consume content in the target language. If you like sports, you can watch games in the language (if possible), search for news articles or social media posts in the language.
You can find this information easier than you think! For example, on social media, if you search hashtags in the other language then you’ll find a lot of content in the language.
4. Incorporate Language-Learning Apps Into Your Routine
Free language applications like Duolingo provide a fun, interactive way to track and build your foundation in the target language. They help you start to focus on making the correct sounds and mastering your pronunciation during your free time. Although they start with some basic phrases and vocabulary, they help you master the fundamentals of the language that you can start to use and incorporate.
In the end, we have to integrate our interests and our learning style into our language learning journey. Luckily, we have the internet which has given us more tools than ever to have access to materials in other languages.
We also have more access than ever to hear more about experiences surrounding language learning. Check out EdOdyssey’s Epic Six Day Finale For Fall ‘18 Study Abroad to see how our students put their language skills to good use!