You don’t have to spend a small fortune on language classes, DVDs or software. Nor do you have to endure long hours in a classroom, reciting phrases and conjugating vocabulary until you’re so bored you want to jump out the window.
Learning a foreign language boils down to practice, practice, practice. And the trick is to make practice as fun as possible, by looking for creative and interesting activities. Here are some ideas for you to try. We promise they’re more fun than grammar books, and best of all, they’re free!
Find books written in the language you’re learning. You may find some in your local library, or download them from the Internet. Start with children’s books and then move on to increasingly difficult material. The good thing about this is that you’ll quickly expand your vocabulary and get a feel of how natural speakers use certain words or phrases.
Look for online newspapers
Most newspapers have a web component. It’s just a matter of finding the online newspapers of the countries that use the language you’re learning. Also keep an eye out for magazines and newsletters. To help you practice your writing, try to summarize the day’s headlines in your own words.
Keep a language journal
Write a short entry on what happened to your day, using the language you’re learning. But that’s not all: your language journal can include 5 new phrases a day, or an excerpt of what you’re reading (you can write down a poem you found, or print out and clip an article). Use your language journal to jot down any unfamiliar words that you have come across in your readings, and to write down their English equivalents.
Watch a foreign movie
Get a DVD copy with subtitles, and the option to switch between different language formats.
Make a scrapbook
Put together a ‘Story of My Life’ in the language you are learning. Write a story about your parents and grandparents, your childhood history,your favorite things, your favorite places when you were child, the jobs you held, your hobbies, etc. You’ll have a lot of fun, and barely notice that you’re practicing how to use tenses, nouns, verbs, etc. (read our article on how to find time to scrapbook)
Speak the language with other people
Practice with your classmates (if you’re taking a foreign language class) or join an internet forum or language club. There are also many cultural organizations, like Alliance Francaise, where you can network with other students.
Photo from life123.com