How do you go about learning languages? Which methods have worked best for you? Do you prefer an input-based method or an output based method? A mixture of both? For the longest time, I thought the best way for me personally was to use an input based method. I used to use websites like LingQ, All Japanese All The Time (No longer updated), and apps like Memrise and Anki. While they worked for quite sometime, I felt like something was missing. What could that be? Output! I needed to keep a good routine that would allow for both input (reading and listening) as well as output (speaking and writing). But what could balance this out? The italki Language Challenge was certainly the motivation boost and kick I needed to keep myself accountable for learning language for the last two years (during the times I actually participated in them anyway). As I reflect on my language learning progress so far this year, I must say I am quite disappointed in myself. Why? For starters, I am being too spontaneous and learning at irregular intervals causing my language progress to suffer as a result. I would randomly use the iLingQ App, Memrise, and one a week immerse myself in videos in my target languages. Which I have kept them limited to just Japanese, German and Catalan. If you have been following me on Instagram, you will have noticed that I have only been using those three languages. The reasoning behind this is to prevent language learning wanderlust and the inability to stick to just a few languages.
You have probably heard me mention this many times on my blog but it was quite the wake up call for me when I realised that I had 122 language learning resources for 30 or so languages and not being able to improve my abilities in ANY of those languages.
It was then that I realise that I needed to ground myself and stick to the ones that actually meant the most to me and keep those the main priority to myself. Although I may add another language this year but we’ll see what happens. 😉 This year, I am going to be more authentic with how I am going to approach learning languages. This means keeping myself accountable for when I am feeling unmotivated to stick to my routine.
If you have signed up for my newsletter, you may have noticed that I began finally using my list for more than just my blog posts. That’s right! I will be actually be sending you exclusive goodies this year! I have already sent out one and I am going to sending out subscribers to my list a product I will be releasing next month for sell here for FREE. Which means that if you haven’t subscribed to my list yet, YOU MISSED OUT THIS TIME. Get on that list!
Keep Your Language Learning Consistent
Something that I need to focus on more is being about to keep my learning consistent. This means that you cannot skip one day and then spend all day the next day immersing yourself in the target language the next day. I am very much guilty of this! This can be remedied by keeping a consistent routine. This can be writing it done in a Filofax, Excel Spreadsheet or even a To Do List you have written down. I tend to be a fan of the latter. Check off what you need to work on in the target language and focusing on learning what you need to be able to express in your new language. Write down what you want to say in your target language. Go for something that you express everyday in your native language. Think about it! What do you like to talk about? Then create a routine based around learning those words and phrases. Then use a site like italki to get your writing corrected by a native speaker. Sounds like a plan!
Look Up Keywords and Phrases Related To What You Want/Need To Learn
How you do this? This where you will need to use a dictionary/online translation website to get the desired results you want. Sometimes that is not always enough. If you search for a word or phrase and it isn’t in a dictionary or there isn’t a specific word for it. It might be a good idea to use a website like italki or Lang 8 to describe what you want to say and get corrections from a native speaker. Sometimes it’s much more difficult to describe if it doesn’t exist in your target language. You also have keep in mind of idioms or slang that won’t be able to translate. It might come off as weird when translated to another language. So tread carefully or learn your target language’s equivalent to it. Which might present a challenge within itself. But it might give you a good starting point. Need an example of words or phrases to look up? Here’s an example of keywords I would use:
How to write a CV/Résumé (Especially if you’re looking for work in a country that speaks your target language)
How to draw yourself as cartoon.
How to write a book
(Insert name of book here) reviews
Recipes (Ex: How to make Prinsesstårta, Tequeños, Pa amb tomàquet, Sushi, etc.)
How to create a website
How to grow your own fruits and vegetables at home
Lyrics (Veronica Maggio- Låtsas som det regnar, Frida Gold- Warum Sollen Wir Träumen, Laura Pausini- Una storia che vale, etc)
What to do in (insert country that speaks your target language or you can do your home country and see how travellers who speak your target language, think of your country or countries that speak your native language.)
Let’s Play (insert game here)
How to meditate
Popular TV Shows (Comedy, Sports, Drama, Crime, Soap Opera, etc)
Now these are just examples but I hope you are able to get the idea on what you can translate and search for in your target language. As long as you it is something that either interests you or something you absolutely need to know (ex: Information related to a prospective job that is only available in a certain language). Which keywords will you use?
Take Part In Language Challenges
This will give you insight on what it takes to learn a language intensively and what you can do to commit to learning languages. There’s the italki Language Challenge, #Add1Challenge, and 90 Day Challenge by LingQ. These challenges do require you to be members of their websites as well as being encouraged to create YouTube videos to track your progress. I found making a video pledge for the italki Language Challenge incredibly valuable but also motivating me to keep going with my language learning because I put myself out there and thus, need to follow through with it! However, trying to always do a language challenge might be too intense to incorporate into your daily routine but it will definitely help to do it every so often. I noticed that my language skills have rapidly improved from participating in these languages. It’s also an opportunity for you to determine which language tutor/professional teacher is going to meet your specific language goals.
Use Mobile Apps
If you have a smartphone, tablet or other type of mobile device that has apps. Why not download apps that are going to help you improve your language skills? I have reviewed the app Hello Talk and iLingQ (the mobile app for LingQ. You will need to be a member to use it.) Feel free to check out my Recommended Products page for more resources. I also used two Kanji writing apps for my Japanese! There is a wide selection of apps out there for you to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a dictionary, e-Flashcards(or Spaced Repetition System/SRS), or just an app that can supplement your regular language learning. Memrise is great for scheduling in your daily review for learning new words and phrases. Search your app store to see what’s out there!
What do you think? Do you have your own method to learning languages? Do you follow many different methods? Which one is your favourite? I would love to hear from you!