How have you integrated your non-native language(s) into your daily life to provide natural exposure to it?

For example, I've added a couple dozen Spanish language news sites to my flipboard so that instead of having to actively seek out content in Spanish I get a large chunk of it interspersed with content in English. Along these same lines, I've tried to simply substitute English sources for Spanish sources wherever I feel like I don't lose much in the process.


I also try to use the Spanish version of Wikipedia where possible. Quite frankly though, often times the English pages for the same topics are significantly richer in content and I have to fall back on them. I can usually guess ahead of time if there will be a big difference fortunately. Similarly, I have the default language to sites like Facebook and Italki set to Spanish and when searching for something online I generally use one of the Spanish versions of Google.


Even when driving I have a couple of my preprogrammed radio stations set to Spanish stations (although Houston has somehow mastered the art of having really shitty radio stations, especially for being the fourth biggest city in the country).


On my phone, in addition to basic apps such as a dictionary and thesauraus I have anki. I don't, however, use any of the premade decks, but I instead add words, phrases or sentences that stood out to me for some reason from things I read or conversations I had (oftentimes because something about the grammar seems unusual or because it seems like a phrase that I'll probably use a derivation of a lot in the future). I try to keep them at least somewhat in context and in my opinion it's important to avoid putting anything on the back of the card in one's native language if at all possible. When I'm bored I then review some of the cards. Ultimately, it's supplemental; not something to use as a primary means of learning.


Sometimes I want to get a sense of how common a phrase is and how consistently it translates a certain way. To do that I often use linguee.


One idea that I'll probably implement soon, is to use post-it notes for various things around my apartment, but unlike the way that most people do it (and in fairness, that I've done it before), I plan to also emphasize synonyms and include any relevant notes or examples that I think might be helpful.


So what are some tricks or language learning hacks that you've picked up over the years? I'm a big believer that formal ways of learning languages are hugely overrated and ineffective when used beyond the occasional reference guide or means of assistance. Also, in order for a language to both maintain and build on itself after you stop "learning" a language, you need to have both good habits and natural means of exposure to the language. This is easier said than done.

Dec 4, 2015 7:35 AM
Comments · 9

I find instant messaging a great way to improve reading for lower levels. I did this with Chinese - a notoriously difficult language to learn to read. One of the hardest things about learning Chinese is that like any language you NEED to read to build vocabulary and grammar, but until you get to upper-intermediate authentic texts are almost impenetrable. But I discovered chatting in Chinese on QQ to be a great way to bridge that gap. Not only is it more fun, each message is a mini-reading exercise, much shorter and usually simpler than reading a newspaper.


Great post - I think authenticity is often neglected in language learning. A lot of people use learner materials so much they forget language exists in the real world!

December 10, 2015

The biggest issue that I have with Italki is that they emphasize professional teachers so much that they've largely neglected the chat interface. Since it's a business I can understand this approach, but I mostly use another website for chatting with people nowadays.


Most of the ideas that yall mentioned seemed pretty standard, but I liked a couple that I hadn't really thought about. In particular I hadn't changed the navigation language that I use on my devices and when I make To Do lists I still generally do them in English, but from now on I'll do them in Spanish. :)

I'm sure that'll help me identify gaps in my vocab.


That's essentially what I'm looking for; ways to seamlessly integrate the language into my daily life so that it takes very little effort to maintain and even improve my level. I'm sort of already at that point, but I can always do more.

December 5, 2015

Well, these are probably the most primitive ways of integrating a non-native language in one's life but, firstly, I set English instead of Russian in language settings on my phone.


Also I started watching movies without Russian dubbing (at the begging with subtitles but now I'm good without it). In my free time I might read some BBC article in English, they are quite interesting and give a lot of new words to increase my vocabulary.


I listen to English music A LOT and try to make out and understand every word, sometimes have to look up lyrics. Songs usually contain many slang and common phrases, idioms, help to memorize sentence structures and pronunciation of particular words. For me it's like mixing business with pleasure.


I write words or phrases I want to remember on my hand so I see and repeat them many times during the day. If I need to write a note for myself, I do it in English.

December 4, 2015

Nothing earth shattering, but here's an article with a few interesting ideas about customizing the computer interface to one's target language.


December 17, 2015

I don't do it, and don't find it necessary. But if this is your thing, you might want to check out:


December 10, 2015
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