A general rule for life: Don’t believe everything that you read on the internet. Life hacks are everywhere online, you name it, someone’s probably made a YouTube video about it. However, when it comes to language learning, there’s no magic shortcut to learning a language properly. With that said, there are a few tricks you can employ to make things a bit easier.
Let’s get real: You’re not going to wake up fluent in Spanish one day, but there’s more you can do than reading a textbook to make that process a little easier.
We’ve put together a few of our favourite tips to help you to get speaking as quickly as possible.
#1 Get fit and fluent: Ever heard of fighting two birds with one stone? Studies show that you can boost your comprehension by learning a language whilst you exercise. As well as this, you’ll improve your brain’s ability to retain knowledge. Research found that people who studied a language whilst exercising scored higher on a test and remembered more than those that didn’t learn while exercising. Just so you don’t overdo it, we’ve also created this handy guide on how to exercise safely whilst language learning.
#2 Time is of the essence: Research shows that spaced repetition is the most effective technique for learning, as the brain retains more information from memories it has seen a number of times. So, instead of cramming, try using Babbel’s courses that use six memory stages, reintroducing words across the course in order to turn short-term knowledge into long term knowledge.
#3 An immersive experience: It’s not very likely that you’ll be able to uproot your life to another country in order to learn the language. However, by making simple changes to your everyday life you can find effective ways to immerse yourself in a new lingo. Techniques such as changing the display language on your phone or watching a TV series in a different language can help immensely. You could also try listening to podcasts from that country or using sticky notes to label things around your home. To learn more about passive and active learning, check out this list.
#4 Personalise it: To get yourself off to the best start, focus on the words that you tend to use most frequently in everyday conversation. Words such as, ‘water’, ‘say’, ‘the’ and ‘but’ are mainstays in most languages. As well as this, don’t waste time learning key words or phrases from topics that aren’t of interest to you. If you don’t enjoy sports, then don’t study football terminology. You’re more inclined to remember words that you can use all the time, such as translating your favourite songs into French.
#5 Context, context, context: Expert language learner Luca Lampariello’s hot tip for studying is, instead of focusing on memorising keywords, try developing sentences yourself using several words. Studying in this way will help you to understand how the words interact with each other.
#6 Debunk It: Life hacker expert, Tim Ferriss reckons that the below six simple phrases are the key to language learning. This is because they reveal how verbs are conjugated based on the speaker, they show the interaction of direct and indirect objects, and are examples of fundamental sentence structures, noun cases and more:
a. The apple is red
b. It is John’s apple
c. I give John the apple
d. We give him the apple
e. He gives it to John
f. She gives it to John
What Not To Do
#1 Senseless phrases: Just because a sentence is fun to say, doesn’t mean it will have any relevance to you. Instead, use Tim Ferriss’ technique which will help you to properly understand words and phrases in a real-life context. Apps, like Babbel, teach languages in a way that will equip you to have real conversations not just copying sentences with no meaning.
#2 Don’t sleep on it: Research has shown that the idea that you can learn a language through osmosis whilst you sleep is actually a myth. Don’t ruin your quality of sleep by trying to learn a language, because it will only aid your ability to recall the vocabulary, without being able to associate any real meaning or semantics.
#3 Slow and steady: Contrary to popular belief, cramming is not the best way to learn a language. It’s much more beneficial for you to learn a language by repeating over time than trying to fit it all in at once. This will benefit you both in the short term, and in developing your long-term memory.
Steph Koyfman is a bilingual blogger and astrologer who writes for Babbel Magazine.