5 Tips, Tricks, & Tools for Language-Learning
Updated: Jan 23
Whether you're just getting started, getting back at it, or looking to freshen up, here are my favorite tips for practicing with languages.
No surprise here, but apps are perfect for (re)learning languages! I could write a whole article on these guys alone, but for now, I'll just recommend one: Busuu. From Duolingo to Babbel, nothing beats Busuu's lessons, tests, and community of supportive, native speakers.
Check out the app and get a free trial of Busuu's premium version here!
Both Apple and Spotify have countless foreign language podcasts, covering a huge variety of topics - from sports to beer-making. But their best feature? The ability to slow down the listening speed! With that trick, you can make sure you're catching everything being said.
Right now, I'm listening to one from Deutsche Welle, where they slow-read German news!
For you language-pros, check out this rad bilingual podcast between a Berliner and a Brit!
A bit old-school, but I love listening to the radio not just in my foreign language, but from foreign places. With the free mobile /desktop TuneIn app, you can listen to every radio station in the world! Simply filter by language, location, or subject.
This is an awesome way to see what music is popular in your foreign language locale, discover regional variances in dialect and content, or catch up on local news and gossip.
Shows and Movies
Is your food getting cold while you try to find something, anything, to watch? Increase your options with some sweet foreign media. Immersion is the key to language-learning, so why not immerse yourself in show for awhile? Like we need an excuse to binge-watch a new series...
NB: Studies show, our brains will not focus on spoken words if written text is available to us. This means that watching stuff with subtitles on doesn't technically help us learn.* But fear not! Some rad fellow language-nerds created Language Learning with Netflix, a browser extension that lets you slow down dialogue and read a transcription of the script!
*When beginning with a language, you should totally still check out shows and movies in your language, even with subtitles, it's still a great way to get a feel for the sounds and flow of a language.
It can seem silly, but playing games like 20-Questions, I-Spy, or Guess Who in your foreign language can be super fun and super helpful. Playing games is also really inspiring as you quickly see just how many words you actually do know in your foreign language.
When under the pressure of figuring out a riddle (what/who someone is thinking of), your brain will rely secondarily on the language you’re using, which means your brain is tricked into actually thinking in your secondary language (...or is your brain tricking you🤯). In a game of I-Spy, e.g., your brain won’t be thinking, “how do I say yellow in Spanish again?!” It’ll be thinking, “she said it isn’t azul, so maybe it’s amarillo…maybe its queso!”. How cool!
TIP: I love to play games like these in the car. Even if it's just a half-hour ride, they're fun and make the time pass!