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Learning a Foreign Language from Home

Jessica Esa

Contributor

Whether you’re finding yourself with more time on your hands right now or you want to take up a hobby that’s going to pay off in the future, there’s no better time than now to pick up a language. It can be done from home so it can slot easily into your daily or weekly routine without much effort. Just learning a basic level in another language can open up doors when you’re travelling or in business, so here’s how to get started from home right now in three easy steps.

Pick your language

This is harder than you might imagine but could very well be the secret to you pursuing your language to a higher level. It’s very difficult to carry on with a language that you don’t have some sort of passion for or a specific goal in mind.

Have you always wanted to visit Spain or travel in South America? Well, keep that trip in mind and you’ll have a lot more incentive to get going with Spanish. Perhaps you’ve always had an interest in Korean pop culture or films and learning some Korean would help you enjoy that media on a deeper level.

Is there a specific country’s literature you love - wouldn’t it be great to read a book in their native language one day? Perhaps you want to market your business in another country and being able to use hashtags and engage with an audience in another language would be beneficial. Having some sort of interest in the language will help you get started and also give you realistic goals.

Decide how you want to learn

  • Apps: This is often the way people get started and get a feel for the language. Some of the best apps to get started with that offer most language courses are Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and Babbel. There are also flashcard based apps like Anki and Tinycards which are perfect for people who love to memorise and can be a great support for the first apps. There are also apps for certain languages, for example, Lingodeer and ChineseSkill are great options for those wanting to learn East Asian languages. Finally, there are social apps where you can practice your language in real-time with a bot or a real person like Bilingua and Tandem - language exchange has never been easier and you might even make a friend!

  • Textbooks: People often go this route once they’re finding the apps aren’t enough anymore and they want grammar support. Making your way through your book and moving on to the next one is satisfying and you’re often learning in a more structured way than many apps. Another option is bilingual texts. Just like how you learned to read with easy picture books when you were younger, you can also use this approach with language learning. When choosing a book, read the reviews before purchase.

  • Online teaching: It’s a big business now and it’s never been easier to find a language teacher online. You don’t have to leave your house and you always have someone to talk to if you have questions. One of the biggest advantages of this route is that you’ll be corrected on pronunciation and grammar issues in a safe space. You can’t get this kind of feedback outside of a teacher or a language exchange. Your teacher will also likely be a native of your country of interest or have spent a lot of time there so they can provide cultural insights and colloquialisms you wouldn’t get elsewhere. Websites like italki, Verbling, and Preply can help you find an online teacher to suit your budget.

  • Immersion: You can’t leave the houses so language immersion seems unlikely but you’d be surprised how much you can pick up and remember simply by listening to music and watching films with subtitles in the language of your choice. While this has to be a support for one of the above methods, this is the quickest and easiest way to pick up pronunciation quirks and local slang outside of spending time in the country itself.

Build language learning into your routine

Typically, with language learning, you start off strong and spend hours every day learning your new language. You’re proud of the new words and phrases you’re picking up but that excitement starts to dwindle which is when the routine is so crucial.

This is easiest to combat if you have an online teacher but if you don’t then set a realistic amount of time you want to dedicate to your language learning each week. Then set out the time you’re planning to learn your language on your schedule for the week.

If something comes up then reschedule that learning time; don’t just let it fall by the wayside. Finally, have confidence in yourself! You’ll make mistakes when you talk to other native speakers and that’s fine.

If you feel like you’re struggling, that’s fine too. Language learning isn’t a race and taking it at your own pace is the key to success.

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