Language learning can be challenging. You may feel that language learning isn’t for you, or it just isn’t enjoyable.
In this article we’ll explore a few methods with which you can boost productivity and find enjoyment in your language learning sessions.
- Find people who speak the language
- Read the news in a foreign language
- Watch shows and read books made for younger audiences
- Create coloured notes to reference when you need to jog your memory
- Try reading comics in the language. Less intense compared to full novels
Find people who speak the language
Finding like-minded people is a great way to make language learning enjoyable. Apps like Speaky, Babbel, italki, and Busuu are incredibly popular platforms for language learners. All four offer similar features focusing on helping you make connections with native speakers. Busuu focuses on 10-minute sessions that are easy to fit into a busy daily schedule. Whereas italki focuses on connecting you with certified language teachers. Babbel is the most popular of the four and offers lessons, online classes, podcasts, and even a magazine.
Apps like Speaky, Babbel, italki, and Busuu are incredibly popular platforms for language learners. All four offer similar features focusing on helping you make connections with native speakers. Busuu focuses on 10-minute sessions that are easy to fit into a busy daily schedule. Whereas italki focuses on connecting you with certified language teachers. Babbel is the most popular of the four and offers lessons, online classes, podcasts, and even a magazine.
Read the news in a foreign language
Reading news may not even seem fun for people who read it in their native language, but it’s not just politics and foreign affairs. You can, and should, read about a diverse range of subjects (including your hobbies). Diving into foreign language articles on history, entertainment, and technology will boost your knowledge of these subjects as well as the terms and phrases used exclusively in certain contexts.
It is a short task that can be completed daily. Even if you read one short article a day, or every few days, you’ll slowly build up your vocabulary and understanding of sentence structure in the written and spoken form.
Watch shows and read books made for younger audiences
Many studies have suggested that children find it easier to absorb new information and learn languages when compared to adults. However, the difference in learning ability has less to do with age and more to do with content. Adults tend to move onto more structured material which has been purposefully crafted for learning the language in bite-sized and efficient slots.
Incorporating materials aimed towards younger audiences into your learning allows you to learn the basics of a language creatively. Information, as it is presented in children’s shows and picture books, is usually presented in vivid, clear and short bursts. Since the content is easier to repeat, the images and phrases are easily retained. These methods do wonders in strengthening your basic knowledge and understanding of sentence structure and vocabulary.
One method is to access English language shows on Netflix (or any other streaming service) and change the setting to have English subtitles on for your target language. The more common method is to go directly to foreign content and watch the shows in their original language.
Create coloured notes to reference when you need to jog your memory
Note-taking is a common method of learning and revising new material. Colour coding notes and separating them into topics, languages, and types of content is a great way to make your learning efficient and enjoyable.
Small creative and artistic activities can help break the workload into manageable chunks as well as make the activities more fun and memorable. One example is personalising your notes using images, drawings or stickers that easily relate to the content you want to learn. There are no wrong answers, as long as it works for you there are no wrong answers!
Try reading comics in the language. Less intense compared to full novels.
After going through material for children, another idea you could incorporate into your learning is graphic novels. Specifically graphic novels that are written in your chosen language. Graphic novels can be a great way to learn more complex words with the context of images to help you learn phrases quicker. Therefore, allowing you to focus on enjoyment while reading and learning.
Here are a few examples of popular foreign language graphic novels to get you started:
- Asterix (French).
- Yotsuba& (Japanese).
- Lupo Alberta (Italian).
- Mafalda (Spanish).
- The Incal (French).
- Kinderland (German).
- Irmina (German).
- El Eternauta (Spanish).
Many of these foreign language graphic novels are available in English as well as in their original language. We’d suggest either reading it in its original language version first, or English first followed by the foreign language edition to get an understanding of the story.
The importance of enjoying your language learning experience is often missed in formal education. The quicker you lose interest and focus, the sooner you’ll feel like quitting. There are many simple ways, as stated above, that allow you to improve your overall experience. The most effective way is to find things you already have an interest in and explore how you can build your learning strategies around them.