Learning any new language is difficult. You must overcome the complexities and intricacies of an entirely new grammatical system, while at the same time trying your best to speak like a native, where correct grammar forms often get left behind. It is an extremely difficult task to undertake – even more so as an adult.
As a native English speaker, I was ignorant enough to believe I would never need another language in my life and so didn’t really bother to excel in my French GCSE. To be fair to my teenage self, I’m also still waiting to find out exactly when I will need to make use of Pythagoras and his theorems, or the skill of dissecting a frog’s eye. You really do learn a lot of useless s*** in school.
My ignorance meant that when the unexpected task of having to learn a language was thrust upon me, I really did struggle. Over the course of the last year, and particularly in the last six months, I have found ways to subconsciously advance my learning.
Language schools are fantastic and I totally endorse taking a course led by a professional tutor if it’s available to you. They allow you to gain a larger understanding of grammar and sentence structures. However, they can be expensive and often take up a large chunk of your day.
Whether a hobby picked up during lockdown or an active learning process, I hope this list of 5 easy ‘At Home’ (or wherever you choose to do your learning) methods to learn a language will help you!
- Sports fan? Watch them in your target language. The F1 has been particularly interesting to watch while learning German because the feed is fed directly from F1/Sky Sports. This means that most communication (on-screen messages, driver interviews, radio comms) are conducted in English and then translated live into German.
- Netflix – one of the best things about the huge success of streaming services is that it has provided them with the budget to produce or buy up foreign language shows and movies and then distribute them to a global audience. I am a huge fan of watching something in its original language, even if it’s a language I have absolutely zero knowledge of. For me, overdubbing often takes away from the nuances and the feel of a character. The good news is that the global success of these services provides us with (almost always) accurate subtitles. So you can watch something in its original language and have English subtitles up. I have also started to watch English shows/films with German subtitles. It all eventually ends up in your subconscious and all contribute to your language learning. Watching Netflix is probably the easiest way to learn a language.
Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.Bong Joon Ho, Director of Award Winning Picture ‘Parasite’
- There are countless YouTube channels out there who produce fun and informative videos on learning a variety of different languages. My favourites for learning German are Learn German With Anja, EasyGerman and lingoni GERMAN.
- Aside from specific language learning videos, I would also recommend subscribing to German YouTubers, or looking for expat YouTubers living in Germany, as they often produce content containing the language.
- Another thing I discovered was super helpful is using German language exercise videos. I do a lot of yoga from YouTube and, granted, I am a hardcore Yoga With Adriene fan. But I’ve discovered a couple of German Yoga instructors and I occasionally stick one of these on to help with my language.
3. Cooking Websites
Everybody cooks. A quick Google will help you discover the best cookery websites in your target language. They are great for learning the words of various ingredients/foods, measurements and will help you build more vocabulary when reading the method. They can also easily be translated into English when you’re really struggling.
I spend a lot of time on my own, so I find listening to Podcasts like having a friend in my ear. Admittedly, 90% of the podcasts I listen to are in English, but over the past few months, I have incorporated more German language podcasts into my daily listening.
- News Podcasts are great because they are often quite short and clearly spoken.
- Coffee Break Languages from the Radio Lingua network are a great set of language learning podcasts, especially if you’re looking to get better at speaking a language.
- If you’re living in the country of your target language, Spotify will show you the most popular podcasts in your language, I simply took a look through the Podcast charts for Germany and picked out a couple I really liked.
“What?!” I hear you yell. I, too, was sceptical of using TikTok as a language learning tool. But there are some fantastic comedy videos about different languages, which can subconsciously help you learn. Plus there are also some language teachers who have taken to TikTok to create short, concise and informative learning content. It’s well worth a look and takes no time at all!
If you have any different ways you learn a language at home, let me know!
Check out my other Language blog posts HERE.
Bis zum nächsten Mal / until next time