What’s the best method to learn a new language?

Like many people, I have promised myself time and time again that I will brush up on my foreign language of choice. However, the GCSE French textbooks I stashed away many years ago, confident I’d definitely use them again, have remained in a bag in the back of a cupboard somewhere ever since I put my pen down in my final exam. Now I’m out of education and I have a little more free time, I would like to make a proper attempt at re-learning everything I’ve forgotten. But what’s the best way to go about it?

Textbooks

Textbooks are great for giving you a consistent source of information. You will learn the correct grammatical structures and spellings, and the same terminology will be used throughout. Textbooks are also great if you want to keep revisiting the same material. However, it will be tricky to learn the accent with a textbook alone, so a textbook and CD-ROM combination might be more valuable.

Audio

Lots of language courses are delivered solely via mp3 audio files or audio CDs. These are good as they help you pick up the nuances of the pronunciation and the rhythm and intonation patterns, which can help you become a more natural, fluent speaker. However, you may receive less exposure to spellings, which you will need to learn alongside the audio course to reinforce your understanding.

Face-to-face courses

Evening classes are a fantastic way to hone your skills with other like-minded friends. You can test your skills in conversation classes and learn from experts and other amateurs and benefit from your new support network. Many language courses now take place overseas in countries with native speakers, giving you a more immersive experience and allowing you to familiarise yourself with the language with natives in their own environment for the ultimate challenge.

Apps

Apps are the biggest trend in language learning right now. Apps like Duolingo can be downloaded onto your phone or tablet, meaning you can learn languages on the move. They are designed to be used in short bursts, perhaps when you’re on the bus or waiting for a meeting to begin, meaning you can cram your learning into your busy schedule. ‘Being too busy’ is no longer an excuse, as your lessons come with you!

Get your Language Advantage with our range of language courses>>

Top tips for learning languages easily

If your New Year’s resolution was to learn a new language but you haven’t quite got round to it yet, what are you waiting for?! We’re halfway through February, it’s still bleak outside and it’s the perfect time to put these long winter nights to good use with some language learning. And of course, if you start now, your conversation skills should be in pretty good shape for your summer holiday…

1)      Be a social butterfly

If you use Facebook every day, one simple way to ease yourself into a new language is to change the language of your account. You can ‘aime’ your friends’ posts in no time, and you’ll be surprised by how quickly you adapt. Brushing up on your language skills while you socialise online? Yes, really…

2)      Little and often

Many people find the time commitment associated with learning a new language intimidating. However, you really don’t have to spend an hour every single day poring over books and dictionaries. Apps like Duolingo are perfect for dipping into a language in quick ten minute bursts when you’re running a bath or waiting for a bus, helping you fit language learning into your busy schedule. Alternatively, Language Advantage offers the Earworms Rapid Languages range for speedy, song-based teaching.

3)      Eat your words

When you go on holiday, many of your interactions with locals will be around food when you stop for a bite to eat. This is the perfect excuse for you to try that new French restaurant in town or the traditional Italian deli round the corner. See how much of the menu you understand, and you can even practise your accents with your lucky companion.

4)      Watch your language

When the weather is wild outside, batten down the hatches and curl up with a foreign language film. Keep the subtitles on for support or turn them off if you really want to push yourself. In the early stages of language learning, try to watch a children’s film in your language of choice without subtitles so you can familiarise yourself with more common words before you grapple with that gritty art-house drama.

5)      Come fly with me

It is widely known that immersing yourself in a language rapidly improves language skills. This is why exchange programmes are so popular at school. The great news is that Language Advantage offers a range of brilliant overseas language courses, meaning you can enjoy the sunshine, polish up your language and make new friends in the process.

What’s your best tip for making language learning easy?

Browse our collection of language courses>>

Want to Learn a Language and Do Good at the Same Time?

Many people would love to learn a language from native speakers but it is not always feasible to travel abroad to do this.  Now a new non-profit organisation is making this a reality, and promoting intercultural dialogue at the same time.

Glovico.org, which calls itself a “fair-trade” language learning website, was founded in 2010 and empowers people in the developing world to offer language learning to students in developed countries.  It enables you to learn a language from the comfort of your own home via Skype, while your teacher is based in their home country.

The organisation currently offers English, French and Spanish language learning with native speakers from Latin America and Africa.  You receive affordable, convenient language lessons and provide much needed additional income to the teachers in return.

Read more about ‘fair trade’ language learning>>

Find out how to learn to speak French and get the French language advantage>>

Find out how to learn to speak Spanish and get the Spanish language advantage>>