‘I can’t afford to buy study materials.’ ‘Between work and responsibilities at home, I just don’t have the time to study.’ ‘I can’t find a partner for speaking practice.’ Excuses. Trust us, we’ve heard them all. And they just don’t work with us. The truth is, if you really want to learn a language, you’ll find a way to do it. There’s actually many easy, simple and fun ways to infuse language-learning into your everyday routine — most of which cost little or nothing at all. To prove it, we put together a list of 20 suggestions to get you started.
20 ways to practice learning a new language
1. Read a news article in your target language.
2. Write a status update or tweet in another language.
3. Listen to the live feed of an international radio station online.
4. Sign up for an international pen pal and exchange emails on a regular basis.
5. Cook from a recipe that is written entirely in another language.
6. Rent an international movie and watch it without the subtitles. If that’s too difficult, try turning on the closed captions so that you can see the lines written in the original language, rather than the translated version.
7. Download a trivia app for your smartphone that’s in the language you’d like to learn. Still a beginner? Try looking for a children’s version for simpler phrasing.
8. Next time you go to the store, practice writing your shopping list entirely in the language you are studying.
9. Visit a different cultural restaurant and try ordering in the language.
10. Have a partner to study with? Try playing ‘I Spy,’ ’20 Questions,’ or Scrabble in the language that you’re studying.
11. In a relationship? Come up with some fun pet names for your significant other that are in another language (like schatz in German or chéri in French). Up for a challenge? Practice writing an entire love letter.
12. Check out the international music charts, pick a couple songs, and see if you can understand the lyrics. Too difficult? Look up the lyrics online and you’ve got a great translation challenge!
13. Next time you need directions, look them up in another language by going to an international version of the Google Maps site (for example: the German, French, or Spanish site). It’s a great way to learn vocabulary!
14. Join a foreign language Meetup in your area.
15. Finding different cultural or international clubs or associations in your area is probably easier than you think. Think outside the box when you’re searching: schools, college campuses, and even churches or other religious organizations can be a great place to look for clubs.
16. What’s your favorite TV show? Chances are it either has a counterpart (like American Idol or Survivor) or a dubbed version in a foreign language. Try downloading episodes or look for clips online to watch. Alternatively, you could purchase a DVD set online – just be aware that you may need an international DVD player in order to watch it.
17. ‘Like’ or ‘follow’ an international company on Facebook or Twitter. This will infuse your newsfeed with multilingual content.
18. Looking for a fun way to practice vocabulary? Each day, pick a different topic to focus on (e.g., animals, food & drink, or family members) and see how many words you can list for that topic. Each time you make a list, try to list more words than the day before. If you want to take this challenge to the next level, see if you can come up with a word beginning with each letter of the alphabet.
19. Did you know that official Wikipedias have been created in 285 languages? So if you’re looking for seemingly endless content and articles to browse (on almost any topic), then look no further.
20. Turn your down-time into language-learning time. Practice vocab while getting ready in the morning, have a conversation with yourself in the shower (nobody will know — we promise!), or doodle conjugation charts on your lunch break. Sitting in traffic? Listen to international music and practice singing along. See? Almost any situation can be turned into a language-learning opportunity. There’s simply no excuse not to try.