Where is the best place to learn a language?
Is there really a best place to learn a language? Instantly you are thinking classroom, no.. visiting or staying in the country which speaks your chosen language must be the best place to learn…
Well, yes, most people do pick up a language quicker if they are fully immersed in the culture which speaks that language. But, even if you are living abroad in the country where the language you want to learn is widely spoken some effort is still required in order to learn effectively. Staying in your hotel room or rented apartment will not improve your language skills.
So, not including a classroom and being in the actual country and thinking about everyday life, where is the best place to learn a language??
1. At the Cinema. Foreign language films are frequently shown at cinemas. Find your local arthouse cinema or check out the foreign language/ independent genres on some online film services. It’s cheap, it’s fun. To begin with you may understand very little. I recommend ignoring, turning off or covering up the subtitles ( difficult at the actual Cinema!). It’s a great way to absorb a “feel” for the language, the way people talk, gesture and express themselves – each culture IS different. And simply hearing so much of the language will do wonders for your pronunciation…
2. In the car. All that time wasted watching other cars go by or sitting in traffic.. turn the mindless radio off and do some language practice. There’s the obvious listening to a pre-recorded set lesson but why not practice pronunciation – LOUDLY. No one can hear you whilst you try to roll your r’s – “Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” in Italian or hit that top “u” note in French “pull”.. eventually – with practice you will get it right! Be flamboyant and exaggerate.. this is all assuming you are travelling without passengers!
3. Walking en route to a meeting or rendez-vous. Start muttering to yourself about where you are, what you are doing, where you going, what you can see.. Je suis en train d’aller voir ma copine Caroline. Elle m’attend dans le magasin. Il est midi moins dix. Je dois arriver avant midi. Il y a beaucoup de monde. Il pleut etc etc
4. Waiting for the dentist or anything else that makes you go eek. Set yourself a language challenge i.e practice the imperfect tense in as many verbs as you can think of, go all the way through . String the sentences together with some interesting vocab until you come up with a story. Hey presto, you forgot to be anxious; you relaxed AND practised some language.
5. In bed. Either with a little help from your bed partner…Or, perhaps you can’t sleep? Try counting pandas in Mandarin until your brain becomes really tired!
6. On the train, bus, plane, tram Maybe it’s not long until you go on holiday and you really need to practice a list of vocabulary for food or directions. Make a list – carry it with you then when you have a chance to sit down whilst in transit.. whip out that list and start repeating. Read the words. Cover the words. Repeat the words. Translate back and forth.. Oh look – you’ve arrived 🙂
7. In a restaurant. Easy one this..simply visit an authentic restaurant where you can order in the language of that culture..especially good for Chinese, Italian, French, Spanish, Thai. Ask around and hunt them down. Explain you are learning the language and you would like to practice.. it’s good fun and real! Excellent for listening skills too.
8. At work. Slightly harder challenge this one but with so many of us spending our days in front of computers and online it’s a little easier. Instead of being distracted by facebook or random links to goodness-only-knows-what find a good online language learning service which has 5 minute exercises and do one or two of these before going back with an invigorated brain to concentrate on what you were supposed to be doing. If you are rumbled be sure to have a good line ready about furthering your career..”Do you know how important languages are to this industry..?”
9. Online. Many a way to learn a language online. Top suggestions would be apps on your mobile so you can practise whenever there is dull moment. Find a local conversation group which meets up in real life near you or connect with some online buddies who are native speakers and want to speak your language…connect online and swap conversational skills.
10. Anywhere – It’s all about the mindset and how much you want to learn. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing (perhaps not if you are performing surgery..) just start thinking in the language you are learning and before you know it you really will be practising in your dreams.
What about you.. where do you think is the best place to learn a language?