With our ever-increasing interconnected world, activities that were once only available locally, are now becoming accessible all over the world. The internet has made an abundance of information available at our disposal, with language learning being no exception. It doesn’t matter if you’ve decided to learn English, German, Spanish, French or even a sign language at home, we have all the resources here for you to make learning a language while you’re stuck at home easy and rewarding. Let’s hop straight to it then!
When learning a new language, we sometimes have to take things back to basics. As a kid, you naturally involve your first language in everything you do. As we mentioned in our “How Long Does it Take to Learn a Language” blog post, language exposure is a vital part of the language learning journey. When you watch TV, you’ve got language filling your ears or when you open the fridge, you’re met with brands, words, and ingredients. The best way to learn a language at home is to swap out your native language for your target language, everywhere you can. Here are some examples:
Cook and eat your way to fluency:
Who knew language learning at home could be so delicious? Getting busy in the kitchen not only teaches you new vocabulary and verbs, but a big part of cultural identity is food and its preparation. You can find countless recipes online in nearly every language possible with the majority of them being free.
One tip here is to print them out or write the recipe down so you have a record of new words you've come across and learned. Even better, have a go-to cookbook in your target language which would make things a lot easier.
Change the language of your devices:
Change the language settings of your phone and all other devices to your target language. It might take some time to get used to the difference but you’ll get the hang of it soon enough.
Sticky notes, sticky notes, and even more sticky notes:
This lifehack is so super effective! Place sticky notes on the objects you use every day around your house and label them with their translation. This is a great way to drill in new vocabulary as you're being exposed to the translation multiple times a day! So now, your cup will be labeled “tasse”, "cupán", "kapu" or a differnet translation in another language.
Wall of wisdom:
When struggling with grammar or a tricky compound noun, this is a great hack to put all your confusion and thoughts in one place (and where you can’t avoid them). Write down the grammar rules you need to learn and plaster them onto a rather bare and sad looking wall to cheer you both up. This way, when you are brushing your teeth, blowdrying your hair, waiting for the kettle to boil, etc. you can go to your wall of wisdom and absorb its knowledge.
Become a multitasking master:
If you’re going to be doing your weekly deep clean on your house or car why not make it a bit more enjoyable by listening to music or a podcast in the language you’re learning. If you are working out at home, follow the class instead in your target language because being shouted at in French sounds much nicer!
Wikipedia as a tool for learning a language is an undiscovered treasure trove. You can access millions of articles in almost any language, so you can be confident that whatever you need to know, Wikipedia has the answer— and in your target language!
A native speaker or two:
Languages are a 'learn by doing' kind of thing. You’ll learn much faster by using and speaking the language especially with a native speaker. This particular method is at the heart of Tandem.
The Tandem app is the most effective way to gain fluency in any language. With millions of members, Tandem is the largest global language learning community out there! Tandem lets you connect with native speakers all over the world, and practice speaking the language you're learning via text, voice notes, and video calling. Immerse yourself in the language and culture, and speak your way to fluency, for free!
There are many chrome extensions out there that cover the many facets of learning a new language. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out our article on "Chrome Extensions for Language Learners."
A VPN service:
Many countries offer their national broadcasting networks online. However, since it’s intended for local citizens only, you’ll need to install a cheeky VPN to access the content. VPN stands for “virtual private network” and is used to hide your browser’s IP address by giving you an alternative one in a new location.
YouTube videos and tutorials will be your new best friend especially if you’re wanting to learn sign languages at home for free. YouTube hosts dozens of channels that give free lessons on how to sign the alphabet, common phrases, numbers, and more. Our favorite channels for learning American sign language (ASL) include Dr. Bill Vicars and Laura Berg Life.
Find your dedicated study space:
Create an appropriate study environment that suits you. We would recommend a clean, quiet space with minimal distractions and good lighting, but this may depend on what is most comfortable for you.
Unplug from the world:
Though our devices can be integral language learning tools, they can also be the main source of distraction. Turn off any notifications you might receive on your laptop or, dare we say it, uninstall those social apps. If you must have your phone in your study space, make sure it is turned off or on silent and turned upside down. It’s important to disconnect once in a while and focus as a single task at hand.
Organize your learning materials:
Some like to take a more basic approach while others take it to the next level and get color-coding systems involved. Either way, find a system that works for you and keep it organized. All your materials should be within arm's reach so you don't disrupt yourself from your study zone. This makes learning a language at home much less stressful and far more efficient.
Find your routine:
You may find yourself learning better in the morning or maybe you’re more productive in the evening. Maybe it’s more effective for you to study in a three-hour time block rather than 20 minutes every day. What’s important here is that you find a routine that's optimal for you. Try out different schedules to see when you’re most productive and then stick to it! Keeping up with your schedule builds a habit that makes you more likely to follow through with studying.
Remember your language learning goal:
Our last piece of advice is to not lose sight of why you started learning the language in the first place. There might be times where you don't want to study at all, the workload is too much to handle or you feel like you aren’t making any progress. These feelings are all completely normal and are part of the language learning journey. Keep focused on your goal and your motivation will follow.
Learning a language is no easy feat, especially when learning a language at home. However, by making your target language part of your daily existence, one day in the not-so-distant future, you will be mistaken for a native speaker.