Travel

My Tips For Learning A New Language

Hello all! Sorry for the silence this past week, life has been so busy! That being said though, I am now sitting in my Laverie, and seeing that my two most popular posts this year (10 Reasons To Take A Gap Year & 30 Gap Year Travel Ideas) have been written in this very seat, I thought I’d give it another go. So today, here are my tips for learning a new language. I came to France not even being able to formulate a sentence, but now am speaking French on the daily, and understanding almost everything when I read and listen. Click through to see my advice and tips, and how you can get better, quick.

  1. Move to the country. No duh, Julia. While I know this may not be possible for you, it comes down to being the quickest way to learn a language. While you can immerse yourself at home, it helps if you take out the earphones playing French music, and are then forced to read French food labels and speak French to the cashier. Moving to France gave me full immersion, and just helped me become comfortable speaking it in everyday life.
  2. Start listening to music in the language you wish to learn. In the beginning stages of learning French, this is what helped the most. Catchy songs by Mika (Elle Me Dit) or Vanessa Paradis (Mi Amor) will get random French sentences stuck in your head, helping you learn vocabulary. You’ll be more likely to hum the chorus under your breath than you’ll be to repeat some line from a French movie! I remember how excited I was the first time I understood a sentence in a French song.
  3. Get a penpal. In the beginning, it was easier for me to write than to speak, because when writing you can really think about your grammar and sentence formulation. Writing helped me get phrases “stuck in my head”, and then suddenly one day while I was speaking to someone, one slipped from my tongue, just like that! Also don’t laugh, but I used Tinder to practice. Many people on there were super nice and loved practicing their English with me in return, and it also helped me learn some French slang. (Dac?) My speaking became a lot more relaxed and comfortable.
  4. If possible, put the subtitles of anything you are watching into the language you wish to learn. While I can watch French movies now sans subtitres, it was not possible 6 months ago. So, I started watching lots of French movies with first English subtitles and then French ones, and English movies with subtitles as well. Although you might not realize it, your brain takes in a ton of new words this way.
  5. Sign up for language classes to help you along the way. This was honestly a lifesaver for learning the really specific grammar stuff. I attend language classes 6 hours a week. While I believe that only living in France and chatting away with French people has made me comfortable with speaking, these classes have made me a better reader and writer. I mean, I would have never been able to understand conditionnel on my own!
  6. Read bloggers and watch Youtubers in the language. This is a great way to start improving your skills when you have some basic knowledge. Back in November, I started reading  Le Blog de Betty in its native written French rather than English, and began watching EnjoyPhoenix on YouTube. They speak the language quite casually making them quite easy to understand. When studying for my German Abitur exams, I did this as well along with watching the German news online each night to learn new vocabulary.
  7. Do a language exchange. I’m telling you, the only way to really learn a language is to get talking. And if you can’t live in the actual country for a bit, find someone in yours who will speak the language with you. A great website for finding a speaking buddy is this one, and I also recommend this one. Honestly, I can say that my French improved in just one day after gabbing for hours with my French neighbor, and then inviting her out that night as well. Also, speaking French with my Au Pair kids has made my skills skyrocket. Speaking is key

I hope that this has helped out anyone trying to learn a new language, or has inspired anyone who is considering to do so. It’s the best feeling in the world when words of the new language start slipping between the ones of your native tongue, or when you realize that you just understood every word of a conversation (and were able to contribute your own opinions without even having to think about it). Knowing more than one language is a blessing, one that I wish upon all.

Do you have any additional tips you want to add below? What languages do you all speak? I’d love to know. In case you can’t tell by now, I speak fluent English and German, and am getting there with the French. 😉

Julia

*Images above courtesy of Pinterest.

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  • Marta Pozzan
  • Great tips ! I always dreamed to learn German language but it’s so difficult for me :/ Btw I’m French and I’m impressed you managed to learn it !

    xoxo,
    http://www.kadi-lv.com

    • Julia

      Yess best compliment to receive from a French person 😀 Now you only need to hear me speak haha :)

      Just start! It always has to begin somewhere :)

      Thanks for reading! xx Julia

  • Yasmin Wilnis

    I took French and German in high school, but completely suck now unfortunately! I completely agree with this post, and I honestly believe the best way of learning a new language is immersing yourself in that country. I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish, but don’t have the privilege to pack my stuff and leave for a few months at the moment, but I now practice every day on this app called Duolingo. It’s free and you can learn over 10 languages with different activities and reading texts in that language. Absolutely love it, and would recommend it to anyone wanting to start a new language, it’s a great start! :)

    Yasmin x
    http://YasminWilnis.com

    • Julia

      I really hope you get to move to a Spanish country one day to learn! German & French in high school though, that’s crazy!! French was more than enough for me 😀

      Thanks for reading :) xx Julia

  • Tracy

    Great tips, always enjoyed learning new languages!

    http://fashion-soup.com/

  • Hayley Roderick

    Great tips! Loving your blog:) xx, Hayley http://www.dailydoseofdarling.com

  • emi

    LOVE these ideas! now i need to go practice my french again, i miss it. love this picture too!

    xo welltraveledwife.com

    • Julia

      Thank you so much, and thanks for reading! :)

      xx Julia

  • jen avery

    Great tips, Ive been wanting to learn French for a while so this will help me start!

    Style by Avery

  • Wonderful tips! All of these are so on point and the 1st one is definitely a great thing to do, even if it not’s always possible haha.

    XO Naomi in Wonderland

    • Julia

      Thank you so much! Yeah I know it might not be possible for all, but it always comes down to that being the best way 😀

      xx Julia

  • Oh, thank you so much for the tips. I have been learning French for the last few years and although the process seems quite slow I feel like I have learned and achieved so much. It is true that I should watch more movies with subtitles or listen to French Youtubers some day so thanks for the idea!! Have a nice day,

    Vera

    The Flash Window | Bloglovin

    • Julia

      The Youtubers seriously help so much, I’d start doing that for sure if you want your comprehension of the language to skyrocket!

      Glad you liked the tips and thanks for reading :)

      xx Julia

  • learning a new language is definitely a daunting task, especially as we get older. Great tips to actually immerse yourself in the language. Nothing will happen overnight but, like with everything, it takes patience, practice and time. =)

    xo,
    nancy

    http://www.adoretoadorn.com

    • Julia

      Exactly! Patience and sticking with it is key! Thanks for reading :)

  • I speak Spanish, English, French, and some German. I started watching EnjoyPhoenix about 6 months ago, and it’s really helped to make my French more informal and less ‘classroom’ like. It is such a great idea, and a fun one too!

    LIVING IN PLAID – Personal Style Blog from Paris

    • Julia

      You start sounding like the way a real French person would talk with their friends! And hooray, so glad to have a reader who speaks some German 😀

  • Golden

    Love all of these tips! Learning a new language is a constant process, and one you have to maintain even once you’ve (mostly) mastered it… Thanks for sharing!

    http://goldendreamland.blogspot.com/

    • Julia

      Totally agree with this as well! German in my mother tongue, but living and attending school in the US, it got quite rusty, even if I spoke it at home with my parents. You always gotta keep on working on it 😀

  • Helena

    These are such great tips! I’ve always wanted to learn how to speak fluent French, but was unsure of how to get started. Both of my parents are fluent in French and my mother said that she learned it really quickly by working as a nurse at a hospital in Paris where NONE of the patients spoke English. I guess the fastest way to master French (or any new language for that matter) is when you are kind of forced into it!

    Anyway… I am so grateful I read this post, this inspired me to get started! ♥
    As off now I speak fluent Danish (my native language), English and a little German.

    simply-mode.com

    • Julia

      I would say the best way to get started is to talk to your parents! Before moving to France my French was bad (like really bad), so I asked my dad to start throwing in some basic phrases into our conversation. That forced me to ask about words I didn’t know, and slowly got the ball rolling. The beginning is slow and tough, but once the ball gets rolling things go super fast. Best of luck, and let me know if you have any questions!

      • Helena

        That’s such a great idea, Julia! Thank you so much.

        simply-mode.com

  • Time to dust off the high school Spanish. I love the idea of watching movies with the subs of a different language. I can’t believe I never thought of it.

    • Julia

      Seriously the most helpful thing ever! I learned so much slang from watching 500 Days Of Summer in French as well 😀