When people speak about learning languages as an adult vs. learning as a child, it’s very common to hear that children are like sponges who absorb everything you toss their way. While it’s true that adults have to work harder in order to acquire new skills, we have two big advantages over children that people rarely mention: (1) unlike children, who are usually forced to learn a language by their school or their families, we have our own motivations to learn a language; (2) at our age, we know what kind of activities, topics, and materials work for us, and which don’t.
Today, we are going to help you make the most of these advantages. Whether you are into cooking, art, poetry, or sports, we are going to tell you how to stay motivated during your learning process by combining your studies with your favorite hobbits. After all, the best way to learn languages is by immersing yourself as much as you can in the target language!
Cook & Learn
If you ever tried to follow a complicated recipe, you know how important it is to know the meaning of every word. Of course, when you do it in your own language, you don’t have to think about the meaning of every verb — you know very well what the difference is between tarnishing, grating, marinating, and seasoning. If you were to do it in another language, however, you would probably have to look most of these words up. At least, you would have to do it the first few times. By your 10th recipe, you won’t need Word Reference to remind you that ternir is tarnishing in French or that sazonar is seasoning in Spanish.
If you think cooking (and eating!) is the best way to learn languages, check out the following channels:
Hervé Cuisine, a French cuisine and pâtisserie chain that offers you easy and quick recipes, as well as original ideas on how you can combine your favorite ingredients to create something new.
Die Küchenschlacht, an award-winning cooking show in German that will teach you how to prepare elaborate, delicious dishes.
Paula cocina, one of the most popular cooking channels in Latin America. In this channel, you’ll find lots of simple recipes for the whole family, and lots and lots of laughs.
If cooking is not for you, don’t worry. You’ll find more options below. Remember: the best way to learn languages is by doing what you love.
Learn languages through art
When you do a traditional language course, you are often asked to write essays and fictitious emails about things that are neither real nor interesting. Wouldn’t it be better to approach writing as a way to express your feelings, try new aesthetic effects, and create something beautiful?
Instead of practicing time sequencers and connectors by filling in gaps, you can write a short story or a personal essay that’s bound to make the new language much more memorable both for you and your prospective readers.
Are you just beginning your learning process? Don’t worry, there are many creative activities you can do as a starter. Why don’t you start by looking up songs in the target language and combining words and verses from different songs to create a poem?
When people ask me how I learned English, I always start with my love for films and actors. When I was a child, I would memorize my favorite lines from movies like E.T. and Back to the Future and imitate the actors’ accents. If you love both acting and learning new things, I know what the best way to learn languages is for you.
Instead of just being a fan, choose a monologue from a well-known film or play in the target language, practice it until your delivery is fluent and natural, record yourself and upload it on Youtube. Who knows? A few years from now, a producer may find your video and cast you in an international production!
In a world where people have to work harder than ever to be successful, the best way to learn languages is one that allows you to relieve stress and have a bit of fun while you learn.
And, what could be more fun than singing at the top of your lungs with your friends?
When you learn a song by heart in a new language, you are incorporating dozens of words into your internal vocabulary bank without even thinking about it. I remember being a teenager and writing to a penfriend from San Diego, USA, and most of the words and expressions I used were from REM and Radiohead songs. This goes to show that, when you find a song that speaks to you at an emotional level, its music and words stay with you and become available to you whenever you need them.
So, next time you make a Spotify playlist, instead of going for your usual favorites, why not sing along to our list of Spanish or French covers of English language hits?
Sweat and learn: how to learn a language while doing sport
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of people started to work out at home. But, while people like me did very little progress on our old treadmills, others discovered the fantastic world of workout apps.
Platforms like Fitbit Coach, Runtastic, and Freeletics Bodyweight provide personalized exercise routines based on your age, weight, and objectives. What’s more, many of these apps come with an online personal trainer that motivates you throughout the session and monitors your performance in detail.
By setting these apps in the language that you want to learn, you get to familiarize yourself with action verbs and vocabulary related to body parts in a language while you improve your shape. Isn’t this one of the best ways to learn a language you’ve ever heard about!?
As you can see, learning a language can be much more than doing grammar exercises and fill-in-the-gap activities. At least, that’s what we believe at Listen & Learn. If you want to take a course that allows you to explore your interests, express your ideas, and do lots of speaking, contact us now and we’ll match you with a native speaker for a personalized, one-to-one language course.