There’s something greatly rewarding about going abroad and being able to speak the local lingo. People can seem more friendly and welcoming, as well as being able to get yourself out of sticky situations like getting lost.
When it comes to learning a language, there’s no one-size-fits-all method that proves to be a sure-fire way of becoming an expert. However, there are many options which you can try so you can find what works best for you.
Teach yourself with textbooks
One tried and tested method is to pick up a textbook with a good reputation. Taking yourself through the exercises and studying regularly will give you a foundation for your knowledge, as well as providing an explanation for grammatical rules and nuances. Many textbooks will come with a CD for you to use so you can hear the language in action as well.
You can also read books on how to learn a language which can help you to speed up the process and give you some valuable tips for success.
Use language learning apps
A more modern approach to learning a foreign language is to use language apps. These offer a free and easy way to start learning a foreign language, with reading, writing and speaking exercises built in.
With the rise in popularity of Duolingo and Babbel, you can do a quick lesson or two when you have 10 minutes to spare. This can allow you to dip into your learning at a moment’s notice to keep your knowledge fresh. There are also language apps that can partner you with a native speaker so you can practice your written skills.
Enrol in part-time classes
Classroom learning might have been a bore when at school, but choosing lessons for yourself in a language you’re actually interested in can prove incredibly useful.
Many universities offer part-time language courses for virtual learning or in person if you check what’s available at a university or college near you. This can give you access to a teacher who understands the intricacies of the language, provide support and correct bad habits early on so you can avoid making mistakes when speaking abroad.
There are many different ways you can finance language courses, such as paying in installment plans from the university or spreading the cost of language learning to avoid overstretching your finances. Look through the different ways of making language education more affordable for students and choose the one that suits you best.
Watch foreign language content
After you’ve spent some time getting the basics down, you can start to engage with TV shows and films in that language. Streaming services usually have a wealth of foreign language content which you can watch and potentially learn from.
Although some shows can be particularly tricky to learn from, especially if they’re from the fantasy or sci-fi genre using strange terminology, finding lifestyle or slice of life shows can offer the right content to learn from.
You could also watch a show that you’re familiar with that has been dubbed into a foreign language. This gives you the benefit of knowing roughly what is going on, helping you to grasp how that topic translates into another language.
Travel abroad and immerse yourself
Finally, many language learners and teachers believe that immersing yourself in a foreign language is one of the best ways to improve and become a proficient speaker. It surrounds you in the language and forces you to use your skills in order to interact with the world around you.
While this can be particularly intense, it can produce great results provided you have some level of language learning skills to build up from. Obviously, you can’t be taking a trip abroad every week in order to do some language immersion. Focus on learning the basics then potentially book a trip for a few weeks where you can test your skills. The progress you’ll make could surprise you.
If there’s a particular language that you’re interested in but you’re unsure about learning it, you can always start off with free online resources or the free trial from language apps. From there, you can try out some of these methods and see which works best for you while having fun starting out on your bilingual journey.