Language and I have had a funny old relationship.
The first time language and I met was when I was surrounded by family members who would all speak to each other in Welsh while I would sit there like a spare part having absolutely no idea what was going on. I decided there and then that language was not my friend, nor would language ever be my friend.
The next time we crossed paths, was during a brief fling of French. It was racey, exciting and always left me wanting more. I always thought about that fling and how maybe I’d like it to develop into more, until we tried again, but this time in Spanish. Unfortunately, the teacher who re-introduced the two of us pronounced ‘Hola’ like HOLLA AT YA GUUUURL, and it was all downhill from there.
I barely thought of language again until I ended up in Madrid for the Summer after uni ended, and my god, language came running back into my life. Our previous affair started up again where we left off, and it became more intimate, more urgent. We had found each other again, and we weren’t going to let go. Language led me through picking up conversational Spanish, swearing at people in Italian and even teaching English in different Countries.
Language has become something that makes me giddy, maybe even weak at the knees. It’s made my last few years far better than they would have been without it, so I thought I would write this post full of different ways you can learn a language without signing up to a course that you’re not that interested in.
MOVE TO A COUNTRY THAT SPEAKS IT.
Go, go, go, go, go!
Okay, I realise that not everyone is in a position to pick up and leave, but if you are, then just do it. You don’t have to go forever, why not go for 3-6 months and immerse yourself in a new language and culture? It will be the best experience of your life.
Start with ‘naughty’ words.
If you, like me, also have the mental age of a 5 year old then you will never ever forget how to say something rude in another language.
Download an App.
My favourite, and the one that I use is Duolingo. I could honestly lose hours of my day playing on this as it makes learning a language so fun.
Pretty much everyone has a smart phone these days, so if this includes you then you have no excuse lovely one. Have a wee break from swiping your way through Tinder, and try your hand and brain at Duolingo during your commute to and from work instead.
(There are loads of other language learning Apps too that I haven’t tried yet, so if you prefer a different one then feel free to mention it in the comments!)
Okay, it doesn’t have to be your happily ever after, but if you’re finding your weeks involve a handful of monotonous first dates, then at least mix it up and try dating someone who speaks your language of choice.
Apps such as Tinder come with an option to change who you’re looking for. Why not pop the language you want to learn in there and team language learning with a hunky new kissing buddy?
I was super lucky when I moved to Madrid that I had a Spanish friend who introduced me to his friendship circle and loads of other people who were patient and willing to talk to me slowly while I tried to decipher what sounded like ‘Blah blah blah de blah’ into actual words.
There are a whole host of websites that will help you find people who speak the language that you want to learn. Check out Meetup, which has tons of groups that you could be interested in joining, and Couchsurfing, which may be commonly known as a great place to find a free bed for the night, but it also hosts meetups all over the world too.
No matter where you are in the World, you will always be able to find someone whose mother tongue is the language that you want to learn, and who wants to learn the language you speak.
Arrange a play date with that person once a week (or more if you prefer), and spend half of the time talking in your language and the other half in theirs. It’s a great excuse to have a mid week drink or an indulgent costa coffee, you get to make a new friend and have help learning your new language.
Win, win, win, win, win!!!
Have a few drinks.
When I moved to the North of Spain, I got chatting to a bloke who owned a bar in Santander, where I lived. He wanted to learn English and I wanted to learn Spanish, so we decided to meet up every week for a language exchange.
Although this was the initial plan, we actually never got onto speaking English as he spent so long having a pop at me for my incorrect sentence structure in Spanish! ha.
Every time I would get to the bar ready for my lesson, he would sit me down and immediately pour me 2 glasses of my favourite wine, and only after I had downed them both would he begin to talk, and MY GOD did it help?!
Getting slightly drunk, or very drunk takes the edge off of speaking a second language, and makes you less worried about saying something wrong.
Everyday Activities that you can use to learn a language:
If you like to think of yourself as a dab hand in the Kitchen, and find your afternoons involve perusing the BBC Food website for a recipe to play around with that evening, then why not hunt for the same recipe in the language you want to be fluent in? Even if you don’t speak the languages then you probably know that ‘Pollo’ means chicken in Spanish, and that ‘Escargot’ means Snails in French. But would you know how to say ‘Basil’ in Italian? (Basilico).
Cooking from recipes in different languages is a great way to learn words that you might not typically come across otherwise, but would definitely come in handy when it comes to dining out in another Country.
If you’re a movie buff and there is a movie that you have seen copious amounts of time, then one Sunday when you’re feeling frail and broken after a big night out on the town, why not watch the same movie in the language of your choice?
When you know a movie inside out, it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand every single word uttered throughout the film you’re watching as you already know the dialect of it in your native language, This is one of my laziest, favourite ways to study without actually having to do very much. Keep a notebook handy for when certain words catch your attention that you don’t understand, if you write down how it sounds then you can do a quick google to learn the word later!
When I spent my first Summer in Madrid, a lot of our activities involved alcohol and clubs. When you’re in Spanish clubs you’re going to hear a lot of Spanish songs, and luckily for me people loved translating them for me, meaning that I learnt a load of Spanish words without even meaning to!
Thanks to this song here, I was able to spend most of the Summer excitedly telling anyone that would listen to me that people are very crazy.
Maybe don’t start with a novel as that would be daunting and scary, and you would avoid the task completely. But the internet is filled with bloggers at the moment, full of interesting posts about any subject in any language and complete with pictures.
So whatever your interests, why not follow a blogger who writes about that in their native tongue that you want to learn? Posts will be easy to follow, and easy enough to search what words mean when you’re already on the internet.
Facebook conversations/ Whatsapp/ Texts etc.
If you’re having a back and forth on facebook with someone then you probably have a bit of spare time on your hands. For everything you or the person you’re talking to types, stop for a minute and think to yourself what the translation of that sentence would be in the language that you’re learning.
So there are my language learning tips. My favourite means are getting drunk and saying swear words, what are yours?