Learning a new language takes time, discipline, and effort, but that doesn’t mean you’re only effectively learning when spending hours pouring over a grammar or vocab textbook. In language learning the small study opportunities are just as important as big ones, and little things can lead to big results. So how about putting your textbook back on the shelf and doing some out-of-the-box learning? Here are 5 little ways you can incorporate language study into your daily life, and have fun doing it!
1. Use technology
One small, but very effective way to make a new language a part of your everyday life is to change all your electronics to your target tongue! Americans on average devote more than 10 hours a day to screen time, whether it be computers, phones, or TV, and if you change your settings to whatever language you’re learning you’ll be exposed to it a lot more throughout your day without even realizing it. Take it to a whole different level by browsing your most-visited websites in your target language, or by changing the language of your favorite games too!
2. Build associations
Instead of looking at your environment through the lens of your first language, why not trick your brain into thinking in a foreign tongue instead? Try labelling the objects around you with post-it notes, and every time you spot one attempt to use the word in a sentence. Build stronger associations by jotting down things associated with the vocab term. So, for example, if you write the Spanish word for ‘blender’ on a post-it, also include the words for ‘on’, ‘off’, ‘smoothie’, and so on. You’ll find your vocab will increase exponentially and you’ll also be able to communicate more fluently about everyday activities!
3. Find moments
Have you ever heard of the one minute rule? If you’re faced with an activity or chore that you guess will take less than a minute to do (like rinsing off your dishes), then you should do it instead of putting it off. This serves the purpose of making you more efficient and organized, but also can help you realize how many spare minutes you really have here and there throughout the day. Why not use some of these minutes for language learning? Read a page from a foreign language newspaper while waiting for the bus, review 4-5 vocabulary words while standing in line at the coffee shop, or listen to a language podcast while out for your daily jog. You’ll be surprised at how these minutes will accumulate into some serious language acquisition!
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4. Talk aloud
Finding someone to practice your target tongue with is an absolute must if you want to progress at a decent pace, but most of us would probably find it difficult to chat with someone every single day. On the days when you don’t have a native speaker to try out your language skills on, give talking out loud to yourself a go. In fact, why not chat aloud to yourself a little every day? This is the perfect way to build your self-confidence, and will also give you the opportunity to practice new words and phrases so they sound more natural when you use them on someone else. You might feel like a lunatic at first, but once you see the results, you’ll be keen to do it every chance you get!
5. Adjust hobbies
One of the best ways to learn a language more effectively is to make it fun, and when it comes to incorporating it into your daily life, hobbies are definitely the way to go. If you enjoy cooking (we’ve all got to eat sometime, right?), look up recipes in your target language and try putting a meal together. If you’re into yoga, seek out local classes in the language you’re learning, or go online to find video lessons. There’s pretty much an online resource for anything you can dream up, and YouTube is a great resource for finding videos that cater to your hobbies and also teach you a new language. If you make picking up language skills a part of the activities you enjoy most, learning will be effortless and fun!
What are some of the little ways you like to make language learning a part of your daily life? Share your tips and tricks with us below in the comments section!