Is there anyone who finds learning a foreign language in conventional ways fun? Well, there are extremely committed learners who can sit for hours over a book mastering grammar rules, but even they don’t find the process fun. Languages are dynamic. They have multiple layers that allow you to discover the culture beneath it. Thus, learners can always find fun ways to get in the learning groove.
I was 32 when I started learning French. At first, I thought I was too old. Then I thought: “This is the perfect age for learning. I can set my own rules and I don’t have to follow any conventional methods”. Amy Roberts, a writer from EssayOnTime, agrees by saying, “I have a philosophy: learning has no purpose if you don’t find the fun in it. A new language should awaken your focus, curiosity, and creativity. It’s a beautiful process, so let’s not suck the fun out of it.”
How exactly can we make language learning fun? That’s what this article is all about. Below you’ll discover eight amusing learning methods that will make you appreciate the journey, and not just the goal itself, of mastering a language.
1. YouTube Step-by-Step Culinary Videos
Bear with me on this one. Recipe videos have been created for people to follow with great attention. They are usually slow-paced and quite detailed. You’ll hear a person speaking very clearly, and you’ll see a visual presentation of each ingredient, so you’ll hardly need a dictionary. That’s just perfect for a language learner.
The best part is that you can recreate the recipes, so you’ll get a huge advantage in addition to learning new words and listening to proper pronunciation. Search for traditional recipes from the country of your interest, so you’ll discover the culinary culture of the natives. Perfect!
2. Find a Friend Who Speaks Your Target Language
Aren’t you always in the mood for more socializing? Even if you’re a classic introvert and you love spending time on your own, social connections will only do you well when you’re learning a language. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and other social media give you great opportunities to connect with the right people. Talking to natives via social media is convenient, and the chances of being embarrassed are minimal.
Here’s what you can do to spark conversations with others:
- Join language learning groups on Facebook, but don’t stop there. Target groups that are attractive to the native speakers of the language you’re learning. For example, you can find groups for literature in that language.
- Become an active member and join the discussion.
- Over time, you’ll connect with the other members and they will start sending you friend requests.
This method is great from two aspects: you’ll speak and write without feeling like you’re being graded, but you’ll also have people who are willing to tell you what you’re doing wrong.
3. Read Children Books in the Foreign Language
I’ll be honest with you here: I started learning French because I really wanted to read Victor Hugo in his native language. With each translation, the book has lost part of its value, so I wanted to appreciate my favorite author as he deserved. I didn’t start the language learning process with Hugo, though. I realized I needed to downgrade, so I started reading children books (there are some great ones in French).
Here’s the trick: you start with the simplest books and you progress towards more complex literature. Find colorful, interesting books in your target language and you’ll be surprised to see how smart and witty literature for children can be.
4. Listen to Podcasts
Reading is great, but it doesn’t help much with your pronunciation. If you don’t have a teacher and you’re trying to learn a language on your own, then you have to listen to natives speak. Podcasts are an awesome tool for that purpose. You can find amusing podcasts on different themes: lifestyle, music, philosophy, movies, health, and anything else you can think of.
Find some podcasts in your target language and start listening to them on a daily basis. You can play them in your car, or you can listen to them while taking a walk. This practice won’t waste your time, and it will help you develop a sense for the natural sound of the language.
Needless to say, you shouldn’t limit your learning methods to listening. You need to speak up, too. Instead of having imaginary conversations with the podcast hosts, you can use italki to talk to native language speakers.
5. Try Performance Poetry
If you’ve never performed in front of an audience, performance poetry may be an embarrassing thought. It means performing poetry in a very dramatic way, without prior preparation or practice. Hold on; don’t abandon this method so quickly. You don’t need an audience to perform. Get a collection of poems in your target language, stand in front of the mirror, and perform! Remember: don’t read the poem before performing it. Just go with the flow!
This is a great way to improve your confidence and pronunciation -- and it also serves as an evaluation method. You’ll see how well you can read and speak when you’re not prepared for a situation. As you continue with this practice, you’ll be proud to witness your own progress.
6. Try Vlogging
A vlog is basically a video blog, which you’ll maintain as frequently as possible. Daily vlogs don’t need much planning; you just pick a random theme of the day and you start sharing your thoughts on it. Needless to say, you’ll be speaking the language you’re currently learning.
Vlogging is great from two aspects:
- It makes you a more confident speaker over time, and
- You’ll get feedback from YouTube users.
*Remember: vlogging is all about showing your unique character. You’re cool and fun; you just need to show that to your audience.
7. Join Reddit
Reddit is not only about leaked images, celebrity gossip, and useless conversations, you know. It’s a great community with very bright members who can help you get any information you need. If, for example, you’re learning Spanish, you can get tons of tips through the Learn Spanish category.
Don’t worry; Spanish is not the only language Reddit users appreciate. Explore the Language Learning category and you’ll be surprised by its value, versatility, and awesomeness. You can find various subreddits for the language of your choice, so don’t hold back and join the fun.
This is the ultimate method for learning a language. When you get immersed into the society of native speakers, you’ll understand the language at its core. You’ll discover different dialects, and those layers will make the learning process more fun than ever. You’ll have no other choice but to speak, so you’ll get feedback on your skills and corrections when necessary.
Let’s not forget the fact that travelling broadens your horizons and makes you a better, more accomplished person. Start saving money today and place “visiting a country of native speakers” at the top of your list of goals.
We have so many cool opportunities for learning languages that it would be a shame for us to stick to the conventional methods. The eight suggestions above are only a small part of the approaches you can experiment with. You have a chance to adjust the learning process to your own needs and interests, so there’s absolutely no way for it to get boring.
Are you ready to discover the fun in language learning? Start today!
Joan Selby is a ESL teacher. She is a Creative Writing graduate and fancy shoelover. A writer by day and reader by night, giving creative touch to everything. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.