5 Easy Ways to Help you Learn a Language

Here are five easy ways that have helped me learn new languages.

Talk-to-kids1. Talk to kids. It’s one of the best ways to practice as you won’t feel self-conscious with them. If you don’t make sense, they won’t get bored or frustrated with you. In fact, it won’t matter to them at all because half the time they don’t make much sense either. You’ll fit right in.

2. Listen to music you like in your target language. As you start learning the songs and the new words that come along with it, you will augment your vocabulary. Plus it’s such an easy way to learn new words—a lot less painful than memorization—especially if you love a particular song. I have Shakira’s Dónde Están los Ladrones? to thank for helping my Spanish along.

3. Have pretend conversations with yourself in your target language. I know this sounds kind of nutty but I actually do this a lot when learning a language (really, I’m not insane). I pick something I want to explain and then I describe it in my head or out loud (if I am alone that is) in the language I am learning. If a particular phrase or word is giving me a lot of trouble, I practice using it in a variety of different contexts, as if I am having a conversation.

4. If you’re single, you need a boyfriend or girlfriend that is a native speaker of your target language. It’s how I revived my high school French!

5. Watch TV, especially the popular shows (start with sub-titled movies if you are only a beginner and can’t understand anything yet). At first you may register a word every third sentence, which can be frustrating. But before you know it, you’ll see you can understand a sentence and then two. Also, don’t be too picky about what you watch. I ordinarily don’t watch soap operas but got into the popular Brazilian soaps when I lived briefly in Brazil.

None of these ideas alone will bring total mastery of a new language, but taken together, they can all be helpful tools to bolster language learning.

Stephanie Meade is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of InCultureParent, an online magazine for parents raising little global citizens. After living in four countries and working in many others as an economist in international development, she can speak four languages, including Spanish, French, Portuguese and English. She is passionate about all things related to language, especially raising bilingual children, as well as bringing up children with a global perspective. She is raising her own Moroccan-American daughters bilingual in Arabic and English at home while recently introducing Spanish. She always assumed she would speak Arabic by the time her oldest child was able to talk (which was four years ago now!) and she is finally making the time and effort to learn this year.

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