Learning a new language can feel daunting. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find a thicker textbook, a faster course, or a more comprehensive set of flashcards. How on earth are you supposed to keep up if you get overwhelmed before you even begin?
But learning a language can be both simple and fun! Let’s look at everyday tips to maximize learning by seamlessly integrating the language into your daily life. These are:
- Post your daily goals where you can see them
- Use Post-It notes for DIY immersion
- Download audio lessons for on-the-go learning
- Get addicted to a TV show
- Discover something surprising in Rocket Survival Kit Lessons
- Join expat Facebook groups
- Track your progress in a notebook
- Ask and answer questions on the forums
- Record yourself speaking
- Write in the language every day
So, let's start with our first language-learning tip for every day:
1. Post your daily goals where you can see them.
Each Sunday, grab a colored marker and flip open your calendar. Plan your study goals for each day of the upcoming week, and record them on the calendar in enormous letters. Directly underneath each goal, write in a reward for yourself. For example, once you finish your next Rocket French module, reward yourself with an hour of your favorite show.
Each morning, review your calendar as soon as you wake up. Seeing your assignment will help you stay focused while previewing the reward will motivate you.
2. Use Post-It notes for DIY immersion.
The fastest way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it. Ideally, you would live in a country where everyone speaks your target language—but when that’s not possible, create your own immersion with a little creativity and a lot of sticky notes.
Each week, write your vocabulary words on Post-It notes and paper them around your house. Put them in places you’re guaranteed to see them all the time—stick irregular verbs on your mirror and smack reflexive pronouns onto your kitchen counter.
Every time you see a word, repeat it aloud to yourself. If you’ve been struggling with the word, challenge yourself to use it in a sentence.
This strategy lets you learn constantly, even when you think you don’t have the time, and makes the language a constant part of your environment.
3. Download audio lessons for on-the-go learning.
If your busy schedule keeps you from sitting down at a desk to review flashcards, then turn to audio learning. Download Rocket Languages handy Interactive Audio Lessons to play in the car or while you’re running errands. At about twenty minutes each, each interactive lesson is perfect for a commute.
4. Get addicted to a TV show.
At the end of a long day, all you want to do is fall into bed, load Netflix and zone out. You don’t necessarily want to open a textbook. So don’t. Instead, binge a TV show in your target language.
If you’re a beginner, turn on English subtitles but read them only when you have to. Note words that characters say often and try to decipher them from context clues. Train your ear to the way the language sounds.
If you’re an intermediate learner, then watch the show with subtitles in the target language. Say the words with the characters in order to make your own speech sound more natural. At first, it may feel odd to talk to your TV screen, but you’ll be surprised how much it helps your own speaking skills.
If you’re advanced, challenge yourself to watch the show with no subtitles. This will radically improve your listening!
5. Discover something surprising in Rocket Languages Survival Kit Lessons.
If you’re tired of slogging through your grammar notes and are ready to cut to the heart of your language, whip out your Rocket Languages Survival Kit.
Each Rocket Languages module comes with survival kits, which highlight the most important phrases and words you need to know. These bite-sized lessons are perfect for jump-starting your brain when you’re feeling a little burnt out. Roleplay scenarios with your language partner to make your learning even more dynamic.
6. Join expat Facebook groups.
You can make native-speaker friends even if you don’t live in a target language country. This is thanks to Facebook.
Look up your city’s expat Facebook pages. For example, if you live in Chicago but you want to learn German, then search for Austrian or German Expats in Chicago.
On each page, explain that you’re learning the language and would love to meet up with other members. In this situation, everyone wins: Expats get to make a new friend (you) who can help them get acclimated to the city. Plus they get to use their first language, which they may have been homesick for. Meanwhile, you get to practice your language with a native speaker.
7. Track your progress in a notebook.
Every language-learner should keep a notebook on hand. You can use the My Notes function on Rocket Languages or you can return to old-fashioned pen and paper.
What goes inside? Anything you like! Record questions that pop into your head, and look up their answers when you get a chance. Jot down interesting phrases you hear or unfamiliar words you come across. Twice a day—once in the morning and once before bed—briefly review your notes from the previous day.
8. Ask and answer questions on the forums.
What if you can’t find the answers to the questions that you wrote in your notebook? Turn to the Rocket Languages forums! Ask your questions and get an answer from one of the thousands of other users who are learning the same language as you.
At the same time, answer other people’s questions in order to turn your target language into a collaborative learning experience.
9. Record yourself speaking.
If you’re self-conscious about your pronunciation, or if you become frustrated when no one understands your accent, then what should you do? If you don’t have a tutor constantly on hand, then use the next best thing: voice recognition software.
Listen to a recording of a native speaker saying your vocabulary words and tape yourself repeating after them. Play it back, then adjust your speaking to match theirs.
The first time you hear your own voice, you may be surprised at the discrepancy; you thought you were pronouncing a word correctly, but one or two key elements have thrown you off.
To do this on Rocket Languages, use the voice recognition software Rocket Record; you can do this with individual vocabulary words or entire conversations.
10. Write in the language every day.
Whether you’ve diligently kept a diary since you were six, or whether you’ve never opened a journal, it’s time to shake things up.
Once a day, write in your target language for at least fifteen minutes. Don’t copy anything from a vocabulary list, and don’t turn to a translator. If you don’t know a word, resist the urge to use a dictionary—pick another word or figure out a way to work around it.
Free write. Scribble about anything that comes to mind: Write a letter to your friend. Write about your day. Write about how frustrated you are with your target language. It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re training yourself to think in the language.
If you’re confident in your writing but struggle with speaking, force yourself to speak aloud for five to ten minutes a day instead, saying anything that comes to mind.
Learning a language doesn’t have to be hard. Use these everyday tips to surround yourself with it, and you’ll be an expert in no time. Our Rocket Languages courses can help you with that. You can sign up to a free trial for all our languages.
Do you want to know more about how to stay motivated when learning a new language? We’ve summarised 9 Ways How To Stay Motivated for you!
Post by guest blogger Jamie McGhee: Jamie McGhee is a novelist, playwright and aspiring polyglot currently making her way through East Africa with a backpack.