Learning a new language can be fun, yet frustrating, at the same time. It is really easy to expect too much from yourself at the very beginning and want to give up way too soon. Or to even move on to a new language before you even have the other one down — I’m guilty of that.
If you’re interested in learning a new language, whether it be to be for work, for a trip, or even just for pleasure, then you’re one step closer to getting it down!
When going on a trip, learning a country’s lingo is super important and can make the difference. Not only does it make it a bit easier on you when finding your way around, but it also makes the locals feel like you’re actually trying. It could also be a good ice breaker!
Below are five FUN ways that I learn languages — because learning should be fun! I hope these help you out and boa sorte (good luck) 🙂
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Ok, this is the app I use THE MOST. They offer SO many different languages, that I have started learning around ten. Duolingo is a free website and mobile app that helps you learn languages quick and easily. They make it like a game with awards, levels, competitions, points, and cool sounds and colors.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m learning a language in a course or in school, it’s not fun anymore. It makes me pay less attention and learn less. But when I learn by using a game, I want to continue playing.
The cool thing about Duolingo is that it changes up the way it teaches you. Sometimes you are writing sentences in English, sometimes in the other language. Sometimes you’re picking pictures that match the word, saying the word out loud (you can turn this feature off if it’s not your thing), and even matching words with their translation.
It’s a cool way to learn how words sound, how words look and are spelled, as well as the structure of sentences in your desired language. I wouldn’t really recommend it for grammar (although they do provide grammar explanations). It’s more of a learn-by-doing approach, instead of a rules-based approach.
Even using it for a few minutes a day can help. Make goals to make a badge gold and you will keep yourself going without realizing you’re learning. I would definitely recommend the website version over the mobile version though. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
2. Movies, Shows, Youtubers, Podcasts, etc.
Learning languages doesn’t have to be a chore. Watching movies or shows that you already know can help. There are two ways:
- Watch in the original language with subtitles in the language you are learning, or
- Watch in the language you are learning with subtitles in English
You can find the way that works best for you, because both have their pros and cons. For example, when you are watching the movie in English with foreign subtitles, it is easy to forget what you’re doing. It’s also easy to space out when you don’t understand the language.
This is why it is best to do this with shows and movies you already know pretty well — so you are not completely lost. While watching, try to repeat what the characters are saying and see the breakdown of the words and sentences.
It is also possible to do this with shows or movies you have never seen before. For example, when I was learning Portuguese, I found this show on Netflix called Três Por Cento (3%). I binge-watched that show so quick, and learn SO much Portuguese. I also follow this Brazilian girl on Youtube called Kéfera at 5inco minutos (she’s super funny but speaks EXTREMELY fast). It always feels good to know that I understand the gist of her video though.
I also LOVE Damon and Jo‘s YouTube videos. They have awesome videos where they speak in English, French, Portuguese, and a little bit of everything else. I WISH I could be as cool as them!
Now, this of course is probably the most time consuming way of learning but it’s definitely entertaining and enjoyable.
Who doesn’t love music?? (Well I’ve actually met a couple people who don’t, can you believe that?) Anyway, songs are a GREAT way to learn random words and phrases. They are short, catchy, poetic, and can help you learn pronunciation quickly.
If you don’t think so… just think about the famous “Despacito.” Chances are you learned at least one word from that song and maybe some sounds after that. It really gives you a feel of the types of words you can find in Spanish — how they sound, how they end, and how your mouth forms the sounds.
Some songs I have used to learn bits and pieces of a language are:
- Oublie-moi – Cœur de Pirate
- Je ne veux pas travailler – Sole Gimenez/Pink Martini
- Je l’aime a Mourir – Francis Cabrel
- Glamourosa – MC Marcinho
- La Lambada – Kaoma
- Trem-Bala – Ana Vilela (one of the most beautiful songs ever!)
- Taboo (Spanish remix of La Lambada) – Don Omar
- Me Voy – Julieta Venegas
- Dueles – Jessy & Joe
- Me Gustas Tu – Manu Chao
- Tú sí Sabes Quererme – Natalia Lafourcade
The best part is that you can probably find translated versions of songs you already know — think Disney. Disney movies have been translated into SO many languages, and that includes their songs. If you have any favorites, just look up the translated version and the lyrics and sing along!
I don’t know if you have Spotify or not, but it is the best music app EVER. You can find TONS of songs in other languages, full-on playlists with songs from different countries, the Top 50 songs from most countries around the world, AND language podcasts. If you don’t have the app yet, get on it!
I’ve been using Spotify for about six years now and they’re amazing! They do charge a $10 monthly fee, but if you’re a student you can get 50% off. They even have a family plan — six accounts for $15, so grab a few friends or family members and split the price. You’ll wonder what you were doing without them this whole time and will learn so much more.
4. Read and Write
Usually when I am learning a language, I tend to keep a journal. I write down words or phrases that I learn along with their translations. Or I try to write sentences with the new words I learned, and even sometimes write down word associations.
It is a great place to also keep track of songs, movies and shows that you have watched or listened to it that language.
Keep it updated and you can always look back on it to refresh your memory. Talking about your memory, did you know writing things down can help you remember things SO much better than just saying it out loud? Try it out!
5. Language exchange tandems
Of course the best way to learn is by speaking with others. If you don’t know anyone that speaks the language you want to learn, you can always buddy up. There are many sites that can help you meet people and learn a language, such as Italki and Babbel.
You can also participate in language tandems around your city. A language tandem is basically an event where people from all nationalities and backgrounds meet, maybe drink, and chit chat in various languages.
Some are free, some cost a few bucks, but the point is that you’re meeting new people, learning and practicing a language, and having fun. A really cool app I use to find out about these events (and SO many other types of events) is called Meet Up.
I love this app SO much because it helps you find people that are interested in the same things as you and a lot of the events are free and FUN. So download the app and see if there are any language exchange events near you.
There’s so many other ways!
I absolutely love languages and find it so interesting how people have created a way to communicate with each other across the globe. Speaking English and Spanish makes it a bit easy to communicate in Portuguese (the most beautiful language ever!). That’s another point — the more languages you know, the easier it is to make connections between them and learn more.
I know basic French, can read Russian and Greek alphabets, and know super random words in German, Dutch and Japanese. I love languages SO much that I obviously can’t stick to learning one completely (I actually mention this in my Liebster Award).
Maybe you do or don’t enjoy learning languages as much as me, but I encourage you to, at the very least, learn the basics whenever you go to a new country. Just keep in mind that there are many ways to learn languages and you have to find the way that you enjoy and learn best.
What’s your favorite way to learn a language?