Learning a language is no mean feat, it requires dedication, effort and time but it’s so worth it in the end. I find any language completely fascinating and I marvel at those that can speak multiple with such ease! However, it goes without saying that tackling a completely different language is not easy and it takes a lot of practice to perfect. There are so many different things to consider with a language like the syntax, colloquialisms, idioms, verb forms, grammar and so much more but it is so rewarding when you finally begin to grasp some of the key parts of a language! Although I’m not fluent in Spanish I would say I can speak and understand the language fairly proficiently after studying it during A-levels and there are definitely some hints and tips that helped along the way that I thought I’d share.
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Language Tip 1: Watch TV and Film in the Language
Whether you choose to do this with English subtitles and the language in the background or vice-versa watching something in the language you’re trying to learn is infinitely helpful in terms of building up vocab and learning new phrases. I found that it also helps you build up a sense of the rhythm of the language, the speed and colloquialisms too to help you feel more natural when you try and speak in the language. Some Spanish TV and films I’d recommend are; La Casa de Papel (Money Heist), Off Course and Elite.
Language Tip 2: Listen to Music
Much like watching TV and films, listening to music is a great way to engage with the language in a fun way. It’s a lot of fun to try and learn the lyrics to songs in another language (and highly impressive if you manage to do it!) but it’s also another good way of learning new words and phrases. I would often have Spanish music playing on car journeys, on walks and during revision in an attempt to try and engage with the culture and the language in a way that didn’t feel dull and boring. It’s important to remember that learning a language should be fun and although it’s hard work, it’s so rewarding when you manage to understand more and more! Throughout my A-levels, I managed to convince myself that learning all of the words to Despacito was a highly effective revision method and to this day I can still sing the majority of the words which is a fairly impressive skill in my opinion! Some recommendations for Spanish music would be Ricky Martin and Shakira!
Language Tip 3: Label Your House
What can be useful, particularly if you’re more of a visual learner, is to label items of your house with post-it notes. This means that every time you go into a specific room or see a certain item of furniture you can associate that with a specific word and, in theory, make the link between the two in your head. I used to do this sometimes when trying to remember those bits of vocab that it doesn’t matter how many times you practice you seem to forget! People around your house may find it mildly annoying but it’s a small price to pay for learning a language and you might even find that they start to pick up a few words too so it’s a win-win for all!
Language Tip 4: Grammar
Grammar was actually my favourite part of learning a language and I used to love formulating new verbs as sad as it sounds – the subjunctive was a particular highlight! Grammar is absolutely fundamental to learning any language and although it can be infuriating at first when you struggle to conjugate verbs or forget some irregular endings, practice really does make perfect! Grammar is something that you cannot afford to skip as every sentence you learn will most definitely feature some sort of grammar or verb conjugation and is fundamental to progress in a language! Never underestimate the power of grammar!
Language Tip 5: Little and Often
Sitting and staring at something for hours, regardless of the task, is never a good way to learn anything. In particular, for languages, it can be much better to do short, sharp bursts of learning often rather than spending hours on end trying to grasp something. Duolingo is such a useful app for this. Language learning doesn’t need to take huge chunks out of your day in order to see progress. Little bits of grammar or vocab often is the way to go in order to increase fluency. Duolingo is an app that allows you to do as much or as little as you want with a language and its daily reminders definitely help to keep the momentum alive whilst you’re learning – and it’s free!
My next challenge is to learn German as I have always wanted to since such a young age. Also, my boyfriend speaks German and despite me asking him to teach me, so far I can say nothing so it looks like I need to take my own advice and get cracking on the German (or if he’s reading this, then he needs to get a move on with the German lessons!) – any tips are welcome! Let me know if you speak any languages or any hints and tips that could be helpful!
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