When it comes to language learning it’s clear that the best thing to do is immerse yourself fully in a country that speaks the language! Unfortunately, whether because of family, work, or simply fear, it is not easy for everyone to just pack up and move abroad. Whatever the reason that prevents you from immersing yourself abroad, there are things you can do from where you are living now to complete your language goals. Try immersing yourself by sticking to these tips.
1. Embrace the music
Music plays an important role for many people in their daily lives. Whether it's rock, pop, hip-hop, reggae, or any number of other genres, make sure to choose something you love. Whatever music you are interested in, try to look for it in the language that you are learning. Embrace the music! Choosing a certain song and repeatedly listening to it is good for your understanding. Your ears will already be used to the language, making it easier to communicate. The first time, try to listen to the song closely and see if you can understand some words or phrases. Then, find the lyrics online and read along while you listen. When you are ready, ditch the lyrics and get ready to sing your heart out! Your family can deal with the pain of hearing you sing! Keep practicing until you understand all of the words and can speak them without listening to the music.
2. Seek out native speakers in your home town
Coming from Houston, Texas, it was easy for me to find a massive amount of different cultures, so if you are learning Mandarin it is easy to find places with many Chinese speakers to practice the language. Whatever language you are learning, there are sure to be some of native speakers living in your city, or a city close by. Make the time to find these places and go there. For example, if you love food, find a restaurant where they speak the language that you are learning. This gives you a look into how the culture and language really work. Practice your skills and make new friends in the process. The cultural aspect of language is so important; you need to have a strong understanding of it to truly speak well and communicate with native speakers. Without grasping the culture, it is difficult to joke with them and have a truly exciting experience.
3. Watch a movie
Look online for a movie in the language you want to learn. This helps a lot with slang words, idioms, and speed. I have met many people during my travels that learned an entire language through watching movies. They spoke very well and understood slang. It shows that it is possible to learn a language just through watching movies. Try integrating at least one foreign movie per week into your routine. Get the family involved if they are interested! Watch these movies with translated subtitles at first (i.e. with English subtitles if you are an English speaker), then gradually watch it with the subtitles of the movie the language is in (i.e. Italian subtitles for an Italian movie). The final test is watching and understanding the movie with audio only. When you can accomplish that, you are a master!
4. Talk to yourself
It may seem a bit strange, but sitting down and having a conversation with yourself works wonders. You can do it anywhere, at any time, although it is the best to do it while you are in the bathroom looking in the mirror to really get into the conversation. A lot of people struggle with this one and it usually has to do with people catching them talking to themselves! If you worry about this, do it in the shower–it is easier to get away with it! If you get caught, just explain what you are doing and that you are not crazy! Talking to yourself is particularly important if it is impossible to find someone in your community to practice speaking. Of course, do not forget to practice with your teachers here on Verbling.
There are so many different ways to advance yourself and these are just a few pointers to improve your language skills. It can be so difficult when you do not fully immerse yourself, so bring that full immersion directly into your home. I highly suggest trying one of these, if not all! Doing so will increase your confidence level by going out of your normal comfort zone. Enjoy learning your new language and keep pushing yourself to new heights. Remember how important it is to challenge your mind. Whatever you think you can do, push for two or three levels higher than that!
About the author:
Donovan has been teaching English for over 3 years in countries ranging from Colombia to Thailand. You can join him on Verbling for private lessons, as well. His classes are designed to absorb knowledge while having a good laugh. He has been travelling for more than six years in over 30 countries. Currently in Europe, he is starting to settle down in Palermo, Sicily.