5 Tips to Make Language Learning a Hobby
Learning a language can be a chore. We won’t deny it. Whilst the rewards are certainly great, there are times when everything gets a little too much. There never seems to be an end to the words you don’t recognise, and the pluperfect tense can really mess with your head. You begin to wish for an easier way of learning, something more relaxing, more natural, than endlessly staring at vocab lists.
The truth is, learning a language can be easier than you think. Here are some tips to get you incorporating your language into your everyday life, turning it into something that is part of your hobbies and interests, rather than a menial task to be endured.
Listening to the music of your chosen language can be an easy, relaxing way of learning. It comes with many advantages, training your ear being one of the first. Of course, listening to singing is not quite the same as listening to a spoken language, but it does help you familiarise yourself with the sounds. If you can pick out distinct words through the clash of guitar riffs and ringing harmonies, then you’ll have no problem listening out for fast speaking natives.
If you’re a singer, learning to sing in a foreign language can get you accustomed to its pronunciation. By focusing on imitating the music, you will find it much easier to repeat sounds and words you might otherwise find difficult to get your tongue around.
As a bonus, you also get to discover some new artists and genres you might never encounter otherwise, bringing you closer to the culture of your chosen language and taking you a little further along your linguistic journey.
Playing video games is another relaxing, simple way of incorporating languages into your hobbies. All you have to do is go to the settings and change the language you’re playing in!
This does, however, depend on the type of games you enjoy and your own linguistic level. If you’re a beginner, then changing your very text-heavy, plot driven game into Russian or Spanish might make the gaming experience a lot less enjoyable. Instead, choose a game which isn’t reliant upon large amounts of text to be enjoyable. Simple games which offer repetitive instructions and prompts, such as Sonic or Pokemon, can help you remember key words and commands which you may not come across in reading books or magazines.
Who says video games can’t be educational too?
Watching films is another good way of getting yourself accustomed to a language. Films offer a greater flexibility with learning. An authentic film based in your target language will offer a more immersive medium, allowing you better understanding of the culture you’re aiming to study as well as letting you familiarise yourself with a foreign language spoken at native fluency.
To add an extra level of difficulty, you could choose to watch with subtitles in your chosen language, rather than in English. This allows you to match the speech you hear with the words in writing, which can further enhance your comprehension of the language.
But there are a variety of other options you can try with films. You could look for films in your native language with subtitles in the language you want to study to test your reading skills instead. Or, for those of you who are at a more advanced level, you might want to try watching a dubbed version of a film you are already familiar with. This way, you’ll be able to focus exclusively on listening to and understanding the language, without worrying about missing crucial elements of the plot.
The end goal is, of course, to be able to watch a film in your foreign language without the assistance of subtitles. So what are you waiting for? Get your popcorn ready!
Books are a bit of a no-brainer. They provide an excellent break from the distractions of today’s digital devices. Reading regularly builds a healthy habit from day one, and this time can also be used for practicing your language.
However, if you’ve never been a big fan of reading, it doesn’t have to be a chore. You don’t have to be stuck reading newspaper articles or stale textbook extracts to solidify your language skills. There’s nothing stopping you from reading the books and magazines you’re interested in!
Look online for blogs in topics you’re passionate about, and find a blogger who writes in your target language. If you’re a fan of a particular genre, such as Romance, then why not find yourself a good ol’ romantic novel in French, or German? Much like with films, if you’re worried about missing out elements in the plot, then translations of an old favourite are also a good option, particularly if you have an English copy side by side.
Bear in mind that you should choose your books in accordance with your language level. In some languages, such as French, literature is written using a different tense reserved for storytelling, but which will not be used in everyday writing or speech.
Ever thought about keeping a diary? Diaries are a wonderful way of keeping a record of your life, and now you can give your entries an extra layer of encryption by writing them in a different language!
This is one of the easiest ways to practice writing, without the pressure of being assessed or worrying too much about grammatical mistakes. The whole point of the exercise is to familiarise yourself with everyday vocabulary and objects. Making a habit of writing a diary entry will allow you to adjust to a new way of thinking as you use your target language. As is the case with any other tools, the best way to get used to a language is to practice with it.
Learning a language doesn’t have to be tiring, and we hope these tips can make your linguistic journey just a little bit easier. How have you incorporated language learning into your life? Let us know some of your personal top tips to success in the comments below, or which tips have worked the best for you!