6 tips for learning a new language

I really love learning new languages. My mother-tongue Is Dutch, but I speak English almost fluently, my French is okay, I understand some German and Indonesian and at this moment I’m learning Spanish. Those six years of Latin classes in high school pay off now haha. During my trip through South and Central America I’ve learnt the basics of Spanish, but now I’m back in the Netherlands for a couple of months and I want to keep practicing. How? I give you 6 tips for learning a (new) language!

1. App for language courses: Babbel

Another traveler told me about the Babbel application when I was in Panama. There are multiple apps for learning a language, but I really enjoy using Babbel. You learn words and grammar step by step. The information and words you learn will be used in the next lessons, so that’s pretty great I think. You also have a speaking-exercise, so you can also practice speaking a new language. Quite useful! I try to complete a lesson or a review every day. It only takes 15 minutes, but it really helps. But of course you can choose how much you want to practice.

The first lessons of Babbel are free. After that you pay 10 euros per month. You can learn multiple languages with this app, including Spanish, French, Indonesian and Russian. I don’t have experiences with other apps like Duolingo (except for some sentences like “monkey eats bread”), so I can’t give a personal opinion about those apps. But with a little research you will find a (free) app that is a match made in heaven with you!


2. App for language courses 2: Drops

Another great app to practics is Drops. You can use Drops for more than 30 languages! Like Spanish, French and Dutch, but also Japanese and Hebrew. With images and listening to the words you will easily learn a new language.

I enjoy learning this way, because it only takes 5 – 10 minutes every day and it will allow you to learn a couple of new words and practise every day. The words are categorized – for example sports and food – so it’s easy to learn a bunch of words in the same category. You can use Drops for free for 5 minutes. After that you have to wait a couple of hours to ‘recharge’ and practise again. If you take a premium account you have unlimited access to the course. The premium account is a couple of euros per month, so it’s a great deal if you wanna practise a new language a lot.


3. Movies with subtitles

Watching a movie is a passive way to learn a new language. I try, if possible, to set the subtitles of a movie or show in Spanish. Or even better: watch a movie where they use another language. You will pick up at least ten new words per movie! For example, with Netflix you can sometimes set another audio. Though it’s sometimes a bit awkward to hear American actors with Spanish voice-overs…

4. Talking to friends/people with another mother-tongue

Now I have some Spanish speaking friends and I asked them to only speak/write Spanish to me. It helps me practice, it’s sometimes also easier for them and furthermore they can say if I’m using the wrong words or grammar. If you don’t have any friends who speak the language you want to learn? The solution is the app HelloTalk! This app connects people who want to learn and people who want to teach a language. There is a translation button, so if you don’t understand something you can always have it translated. You can also send audio messages to each other, to listen to the pronunciation. It’s quite helpful, in my opinion. And fun, because you can talk about other countries and cultures.

5. Record your own sound for some reflection

I was really curious to my sound when I’m speaking Spanish. So I tried to record it with my phone! It really helped me with my pronunciation. It feels a bit uncomfortable in the beginning, but it’s a great way to reflect on your language level.

6. Language classes with Skype or YouTube

Some people don’t want to go back to the lecture room for learning a new language. I totally get that. You can use the online language courses whenever you want, wherever you want. On a Sunday morning, in your pajamas on the couch for instance. Or on a Wednesday evening, after work or an hour of sports. You have no travel costs and no travel time. Perfect, right? With most online language classes you have on-on-one contact with your teacher, so you can focus on YOUR level of a language.

I hope you think these tips are useful. Do you have some other tips for learning a new language? Please share them with me!

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