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Learning a Foreign Language

Try some or all of these five things to support your formal lessons and see how much you can progress. I personally do or have done all of these to keep my own language skills up to scratch. As with many things, consistency is everything in making progress with a language. If you commit to spending 10, 20, 30 minutes a day, and doing this consistently, you will make progress.
  1. Read your textbook/vocab book and learn the vocab till it goes in!
  2. Okay, so this sounds obvious but in the massive confusion that can be learning a language, start by regularly reviewing any textbooks you are using in lesson. This is number one, as most textbooks are designed to give you the most essential vocabulary and grammar you will need first. Spend even 10 minutes per day or 1 hour per week, whatever you can. Read the vocab and grammar points, and try to revise the concepts until they go in.

  3. Do a language exchange
  4. When you're learning a language, you NEED to speak it, no matter what your current level. This is one of best things you can do to really advance your skills in both speaking and listening. It works well in addition to formal lessons. A language exchange typically involves meeting for a coffee or drink with a native speaker and speaking half in the target language, then half in English, so you both improve your speaking fluency. You’ll be amazed how much your listening comes on too. If you’re based in Leeds like me, there i group that meets at 7pm every Thursday night at Cuckoo on Call Lane. There are people of all different nationalities that go there, so you’re very likely to meet people to practice common languages with such as French or Spanish. You can also find language exchange partners on Gumtree and other sites.

  5. Learn real life vocab by reading articles that interest you
  6. Reading is one of the best things you can do to learn new vocab in the target language. It’s sooo much better read it in a real context than just learn lists of words. So find a topic you’re interested in. (For me, I love reading about fitness in Russian) Google a few keywords in your chosen language, in my case I would type ‘fitness.’ You’ll soon find online magazines with interesting articles about your topic. To learn new vocab, use a method we used in my Russian language lectures at Leeds Uni. Print the article. Highlight all the words you don’t know, then use an online dictionary or translator to look them all up. Then annotate your article with all the new words. Then read them back in context and revise them to remember. To reinforce the vocab, try to make up your own sentences using the new words you have just read/learnt.

  7. Get on YouTube
  8. Youtube can be great for learning languages. You can find videos about almost any topic within language learning. Just type in ‘French Beginners’ or Russian Intermediate’ for example and see all the results that come up. There are lots of different tutorials on grammar, listening exercises and more to choose from. There will be lots of good channels on there to follow.

  9. Instagram
  10. Search for Instagram accounts in foreign languages. If you’re learning French, you could follow newspapers such as Le Monde. If you’re learning Spanish, you can follow El Pais, and there is BBC Russian Service for Russian learners. You can also follow famous people who speak those languages. I personally follow lots of Russian language accounts about things I’m interested in. By doing this you are constantly reading little snapshots of language when you scroll down your feed, without you having to actively search for things to read in the foreign language.

I hope this was of help :)