If you want to expand your horizons, learning a new language is one of the best ways to do so.
Whether you want to explore Latin America or relocate to Germany, brushing up on foreign languages is a great personal project.
However, learning a new language can be daunting at first. And it can also be expensive, with the cost of translation apps, classes, textbooks, and foreign language movies all adding up.
This article will look at some ways to make language learning easier. We’ll talk a bit about the tools you can use, and ways to find essential resources, as well as the right attitude to take if you want to become fluent as quickly as possible
If you head to the foreign language textbooks section of Barnes & Noble or Amazon, you might be in for a shock. Purchasing language guides isn’t cheap, and the best books can cost $50 or more. This immediately puts some people off learning a new language, but it’s not necessary to spend so much.
For starters, you can often find free resources that compare well with commercially available alternatives. Open Culture is a great example, offering online classes and links to free textbooks. At the very least, it’s a good starting point, and a resource you’ll return to again and again.
If you want commercial e-texts, your options are more limited, but it may not be necessary to pay face value. One good idea is to scan torrent sites for copies of the books you need. These sites are full of eBooks of all kinds, including primers for pretty much every language.
Torrentz is a good entry point into the world of torrents. But if that doesn’t work for you, check out our guide to the best
As any language teacher will tell you, the best way to become fluent in any tongue is by conversing with native speakers as much as possible. Now, you may not be able to truly immerse yourself in French or Spanish while you are based at home, but there are ways to socialize with native speakers nonetheless.
The best way to do so is by enlisting the help of websites which connect language partners. Sites like iTalki allow you to create a profile describing your level of fluency in various languages, before approaching people all across the world to become a contact.
These sites are also good places to find affordable online tutors. You can book live chats with tutors to fill in the gaps or refresh your knowledge, or sign up for longer courses, so it’s a really flexible resource.
Watching foreign cinema is another excellent way to immerse yourself in a different language without booking any flights. Almost every culture has its own cinematic treasures to discover, from Fellini’s work in Italian to the French New Wave.
When you watch these movies with subtitles, you can get a great feel for the way languages sound. This is invaluable – like having a sneak preview of what life in those countries is really like. If you stick to textual learning, you’ll never learn how words actually sound. But movies and TV can prepare you for actually talking to people abroad.
If you want to find foreign language movies, platforms like Hulu are good places to look. But you may find movies for free via torrent search engines like torrentz as well.
If you do download your movies, they may not come with subtitles. But don’t worry. You can find subs for almost any movie at OpenSubtitles, which is well worth bookmarking.
So far, we haven’t discussed taught courses, and we need to do so. Despite all of the free resources available online, most learners find it valuable to learn in a classroom environment – at least until they have a sound grasp of the basics.
But how can you find a teacher you can trust? Firstly, don’t just choose on price alone. Schools which charge less may well economize on resources and teaching quality, or force students to buy extra products to fully benefit from their programs.
One good way to find reputable schools is by searching with Language International – one of the most respected booking agencies.
Before you sign up, ask for previews of course materials. Most schools will send you outlines of the modules and details about class times. And ask yourself some key questions. What level of proficiency are you aiming for? Does the course stretch students?
In general, it’s best to start with beginner’s courses. But it’s even better to choose schools with clear progressions from beginner to intermediate, to expert. That way, you can assess your next steps as you become more fluent.
Whatever language you choose to learn, you’re sure to encounter challenges. But you’re equally likely to feel a sense of reward and achievement when your course is done.
Learning a language is incredibly satisfying – even before you start travelling and using your knowledge. And if you put into practice the tips we’ve talked about here, you can save money and find the perfect partners for that adventure.
All that’s left to say is good luck, or Viel Glück, Buena Suerte, or Bonne Chance!
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