So, you've learned the basics of a language. Maybe you've taken a class, or maybe you've used an app like Duolingo. You've gotten the basic tools, but you still can't speak or understand yet.
The reason: in order to really master a language, you have to use it. You have to hear it frequently and, even more importantly, you have to speak it. Contrary to a commonly dispersed idea, you don't have to move to a new country in order to speak a language well. Below are six great ideas to help you get started.
You'd be surprised by how useful this service can be. Just go to Netflix, change your account to the language you're learning, and - voila - the language choice will appear for any series in which it's available.
To get maximum benefit, change both audio and subtitles to the language you want to learn - otherwise, you're likely to simply listen to or read in your native language. If you're learning a language with a non-Latin alphabet - for example, Japanese or Arabic, changing the subtitles is also a great way to practice your reading.
Even listening to Netflix on the side - putting it on the background while you do computer work, for example - will quickly increase your fluency.
Obviously, this is quite an entertaining way to learn a language. And you'll no longer have to feel guilty about spending hours watching television - you're now using that time constructively.
2) Conversation Exchange
Conversation Exchange is a website which allows you to speak a language for free with a native speaker. In exchange, you speak your own language for about half the conversation, so that the person on the other side of the line can learn your own language. It's a win-win method- and it's also a great way to make friends with people from other countries.
To go to Conversation Exchange, click here.
If you live in a big city, it's likely that there's a meetup near you which allows you to practice your language skills with native speakers. Whether it's a meetup specifically designed to teach the language, or simply a gathering of native speakers (when I was in London, for example, the Italians would get together frequently) - this is a fun, effective way to learn.
Visit here to find out more.
Couchsurfing allows you to either host people in your home and/or be hosted in theirs. For those who don't feel comfortable with such intimate interaction with strangers, Couchsurfing can also be used simply to meet- for example, at a bar, or touring the city.
Couchsurfing is a great way to make friends with native speakers. You can also keep up the relationship and have conversations with these people later.
5) Speaking With the People Around You
Sometimes, there's a profusion of native speakers around you. In certain cities in the US, it might be Spanish speakers. Where I live, in Israel, there are many Arabic and Russian speakers.
Take advantage of their presence! If you hear someone speaking their language on their phone, strike up a conversation. Ask native speakers to teach you some of their words. If you have friends who are native speakers, try to maintain a conversation only in their language. You can always ask them to speaker slower, or to translate certain words. You will understand them more easily as time passes.
6) Speak to Yourself
As weird as this might sound, this is a useful and effective tool. One of the most difficult aspects of learning is speaking. Speaking is an active form of learning, whereas listening is passive. This is why many language learners claim that they understand more easily than they can speak.
Make conversations in your head. Formulate sentences. Try to translate your thought process into the language you're learning. If you find yourself often at a loss for a specific word, look that word up. Try to use different facets of your vocabulary.
When it comes to making conversation with others, your speech will be much more fluid, and you yourself will be more confident. Confidence, and a lack of embarrassment, are key in language learning.
In short, a language has to be actively used in order to be learned on a deeper level. Don't let shyness or embarrassment stand in your way; with the advent of technology, there are so many more ways now to practice your language. Try it and see how much more quickly you progress!
Good luck and happy learning!