I’ve been interested in languages for years. I studied French, Spanish and German A-Level and I was always looking for new ways to improve my language skills away from books. Now, I’m studying Chinese (simplified). Sometimes text books and worksheets can take away the fun of learning a language because it can become repetitive. Although, they still need to be done. Nevertheless, it can be demotivating doing the same thing over and over again. So here are some techniques I have been using since high school for European languages which kept me motivated and entertained.
- Netflix – Although Netflix has a variety of foreign language films on Netflix, Netflix original TV shows can usually have their audio and subtitles changed to different languages. Thus, it enables you to practice you listening and reading. Great Netflix originals are, The Returned, Marvel’s Daredevil, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Marco Polo, Sense8 and lots more.
- Websites generally – It is very easy to find websites catered to your interests simply by changing the end of the url, for example on Google. If you change the url to ‘google.es/google.de/google.fr’ anything you search will appear in that language. It’s easily done by changing the country code domain. It could be .fr, .hk, .cn, .de and many more.
- YouTube – I spend a lot of time on YouTube getting inspiration and entertainment but I also use it to improve my listening skills too. YouTube is a vast community of people making and uploading videos. Just like with websites if you search on YouTube something in the language you’re learning, you’re bound to find something that will interest you. For me, I usually use YouTube for style, books and cooking.
- Music – Music is great way to improve listening. Moreover, the different varieties of music from different cultures offers various tempos, accents and rhymes which will really test and improve you’re listening skills. Music is on of the best ways to improve your listening skills because of the various tempos, rhythms and accents within music. Listening to music is also something that can be done passively so as you’re doing something else, you can be subconsciously obtaining new vocabulary and sentence structures from music.
- Books – If you’re a bibliophile books/novels offer a wide range of vocabulary and phrases that may not exist in your native language. You can also learn more about the culture of the language you’re learning whether the book is fact of fiction. I would advise to have a copy of whatever book you’re reading in your native language too because reading in another language can be complicated because of literary techniques such as metaphorical and symbolic language which may not translate well into English if at all.
These are all methods I used and still continue to use in order to improve my language skills.