Keeping up foreign languages in your spare time

Monday, 7 August 2017

Keeping Up Foreign Languages In Your Spare Time
Keeping Up Foreign Languages In Your Spare Time
If there's one thing I've learnt from studying languages at school and university, it's that finding the time and the motivation to practise regularly is tough. Learning a language is a continuous process, you never reach a point where you know it all! This often disencourages people - it can feel exhausting and sometimes a chore to force yourself to practise the language in some way everyday.

However, it's so important to find ways to use the language that feel like a joy to you. If it feels like you have to practise you'll never want to, especially if you're busy with work or other commitments. After all, you should be learning a language for the enjoyment of it! Granted, you won't like every aspect of the process - I can't stand translation for example!

With this in mind, I'm going to chat about how I've made time to use French and Spanish in my daily life. I've just started my job in London and I commute for roughly an hour each way, so this has been a perfect way to weave language practise into my routine.

1. TED Talks 
TED is a wonderful platform where experts in every field imaginable give talks in a way which is simple, direct and engaging. This is a perfect way to practise bitesize listening each day in other languages. I love listening to them on the train in the morning, as TED has plenty of talks produced in Spanish. It even has a ready-made playlist on their app saving you even more time! 

I've listened to topics that I wouldn't have thought to learn about, even better that it's in a foreign language. Of course, if you've not been learning the language for long, you can pop on subtitles so that you're becoming exposed to new vocbaulary and phrases! You can also download talks for offline listening, which is handy for not killing your data or relying on dodgy signal.

 2. Books
This has got to be the most obvious suggestion for keeping up the language, but it's important. I struggled for a while to find books that I enjoyed reading in other languages, until I thought about the genres I enjoy in English. It's super important to read about subjects you enjoy, because reading in another language takes a lot more energy to understand what's happening.

Therefore, if you find it boring, you'll really struggle to follow it. It's difficult to find language books that aren't old literature if you look in normal book shops, so I recommend checking out charity shops or Amazon to find interesting reads.

3. TV and film
Netflix is a great resource for finding exciting series and films to watch in foreign languages. I really love French and Spanish films, I find their approach to crime thrillers is slightly more sinister and the plots often less predictable. I love that like with TED Talks you have the option to leave subtitles on or off, allowing all levels of language learners to take something away from the programme. And of course, if you accidentally binge watch 8 episodes of Narcos or have a movie day, you'll still feel productive!

Walter Presents on All 4 is also great for foreign language series from all over the world. A must for crime and action addicts, I absolutely love Deutchland 83 and Spin! (can you tell I love a good crime thriller?)

4. Language exchanges
Without a doubt, having a Spanish buddy was the key to keeping up my conversational Spanish in my spare time. Anyone who's learning to speak fluently will understand that one of the hardest things is speaking in a language like you would in your mother tongue with your friends. So it's important to meet native speakers where you are and get practising!

Once you get to know each other well enough, it doesn't feel like a chore and it's a joy to get to know people from other cultures and different walks of life. I recommend looking on Facebook for groups especially for natives and see who's up for a language exchange and get stuck in!

I hope these tips are useful for people wanting to keep up their languages in their spare time or to squeeze into their busy lives! What advice would you recommend to other language learners?

Thanks for reading!

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Keeping Up Foreign Languages In Your Spare Time

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