Introduction To Learning Languages
As all language learners know, there are many basic language learning methods. You can read a text. You can retell a story. You can write a dictation. I can’t help but agree that they are useful. The challenge is that you can lose motivation and get bored. You can get yourself stressed out and give up on your goal. What if there’s a better way. Have you ever thought that you can study a language and skip the boring parts? Here are some “magic methods” that will be valuable to any language student. Apply these to your studying and you will surprise yourself.
Smart Ways To Study A Language
So, you’ve decided that you want to learn a language? Try these six practical tips to make it easy on you.
Use your goal language when researching a topic.
How many times a day do you try to search for an answer in Google? If you are like most people, you use their native language. Flip it around. I say, change your normal ways and start searching in your goal language! This way you would be able to get much more advantages than just an answer to your question. Vocabulary, new grammar structures and more benefits are just around the corner. This won’t be boring, because you are curious about what you are reading!
- Different countries have different Google websites. Here’s a list of them.
- If you are studying Chinese, you can use Baidu https://www.baidu.com search engine. It has a separate application for your phone so you can have an easy access for it. It is very similar to Google, so you won’t find it difficult.
- If you are studying Russian, you can use Yandex. https://yandex.com which is the most popular search engine in Russia. There you can find more articles by Russian writers.
Read the books you are interested in your goal language.
I have always had a certain fear of Chinese books. I remember language textbooks from my university days. They brought nothing but confusion and despair. I thought that all Chinese books were like that. I would never be able to read it until one day, when my friend posted online about a Chinese book about “intuitive eating”. I thought, that sounds interesting, so I picked up the Chinese book and loved it. This worked because I have been interested in Nutrition for a couple of years. Combining my love of Nutrition with learning Chinese was the key to learning Chinese. So, if you are keen on some topic, you’ll be motivated to read and understand a book on it. I tell my students to find an book according to their interests and level.
Watch funny video clips in the language you are trying to learn
Entertaining social media can be addictive and sometimes can even waste your time. That is unless you watch videos and read memes in your goal language!
Let’s face it – we all love to relax and scroll through short videos. There is nothing bad in it but why not use that time to watch educational videos? There are some educational and funny TikTok videos in the language you want to learn. You may say that there is no useful vocabulary, but I want to assure that you that there are. You can learn dozens of modern, basic, or even more advanced words! I had a student who surprised me with his cooking word list. He told me that he learned it from watching funny TikTok videos of a cooking cat. At this point I became a believer that this method actually works! Do not hesitate to try!
Tip: If you are learning Chinese, try these websites:
小红书 （https://www.xiaohongshu.com）， 抖音 （https://www.douyin.com/discover）， 快手 （https://www.kuaishou.com）
Listen to your favourite songs with subtitles on.
These days, there are lyrics available for almost all the songs on YouTube. You can listen to the songs you love and boost your vocabulary at the same time. It should feel like you are singing karaoke in another language. You feel like you are entertaining yourself, but you are studying a language. Also, grammar structures and useful contractions are in almost every piece of music. You will memorize it the melody of your favourite song.
Here’s a short instruction of how to search for caption-enabled videos on YouTube:
Change your cell phone’s language to your goal one!
This method will force you to learn some key words to operate your phone. There are a lot of important words you will not find in basic textbooks. This works well because you probably use your phone many times throughout the day. Putting your phone in different language will expose you to the same words. You will memorize a whole bunch of words without realizing it.
Use education podcasts instead of radio in the car or background music.
There are a great variety of Podcasts out there. There are news, discussions, interviews, overviews, summaries and more. You can search podcasts by levels and subjects. You can definitely find something that you would love to hear. According to research, listening to podcasts improves language speaking and listening. It helped in other language skills like grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. Don’t ignore this this method if you don’t already listen to podcasts. It’s a free and assessable way to improve in a language. The most important is to search for a host you would like and enjoy!
Remember, learning a language is not only the result – it is about the process, that should be exciting! Your way to fluency is a way full of curious findings, investigations meeting new friends and great teachers. I hope my pieces of advice would help to get along with your goal language!
Polina Biriukova is a language teacher and a polyglot with 5 years’ teaching experience in 3 countries, like Colombia, China and Russia. Polina is also an active advisor and a leader for hundreds of students who seek for motivation. Her main teaching method is being a friend, not just a tutor. If you are interested in languages - there are no borders!