Learning a language in a classroom setting is great! In fact, studies have shown that learning a foreign language as an adult is not only within reach, but very beneficial to the brain! However, studying in the classroom is only part of the equation when it comes to becoming proficient. Learning a language takes practice, practice, practice and lots of effort on the learner’s part. Therefore, it’s up to you to keep yourself engaged in continued learning outside of the classroom. Not sure how to do that? Don’t worry— we’re confident you’ll see measurable improvements if you follow these 7 pieces of advice to keep learning when class is dismissed:
1. Read, read, read.
Read books, your favorite magazines, newspapers, blogs, online news, or anything else that you can get your hands on in the foreign language you’re studying! When you find words you don’t know, try to determine the meaning from context, then look them up in the dictionary and write them down. Try using those new words in sentences when writing and speaking.
2. Listen to music.
This is one of the most fun, and therefore easiest, ways to learn more vocabulary and slang and to get a better understanding of how words should be pronounced. Try radio stations (local or streamed online), or use iTunes or Spotify. Once you find foreign artists and songs you like, go online to print out the lyrics to learn the words and the meaning of the songs. Sing along with the songs to improve your pronunciation.
3. Watch movies or TV shows in the language you’re learning.
Watching TV is helpful in similar ways to listening to music, but with shows you have the additional benefit of reading body language and other visual cues. You can even read the words as they’re spoken if you start out with subtitles or captions turned on. As your language skills improve, you can turn off subtitles and just watch and listen.
4. Make friends with foreigners
Find foreign friends when traveling, in Meetup.com groups, on social media, etc. and see if you can find ways to meet online and have conversations. Language exchange benefits both parties and is a great and fun way to learn – plus you gain a new friend! You can even try writing emails back and forth and having your friend correct any errors. It’s practically like having free lessons!
5. Use a free language app
Wondering how you can learn a foreign language when your schedule is nuts? There are plenty of free and useful language apps, like Duolingo or Mindsnacks that you can access anytime from your phone. Use these apps to practice the language when you have a few minutes to kill for convenient way to learn on the go!
6. Change the language setting on your phone
By changing the language settings on your phone, you expose yourself to practical learning on a daily basis and have the opportunity to become familiarized with words and spelling at a quicker pace.
Travel can be the payoff to all your hard work in language class, and it’s one of the best ways to take your learning to the next level. Go abroad and immerse yourself in the language and the culture. Don’t be afraid to take risks— strike up a conversation with people around you, attend local events, or sign up for conversation classes! Your new language skills will open doors to experiences in foreign countries that you never had before.