Real Language Teachers Share Their Favorite Tips For Learning

You heard it straight from the expert’s mouth.
woman in yellow sweater wearing headphones waves at laptop online language courses

You’ve probably heard all the standard language learning advice. You’ve probably been through at least one round of live or online language courses. You’ve made the flashcards. You’ve even awkwardly fumbled through a restaurant order in another language. But have you ever directly benefited from the hard-won kernels of wisdom distilled over long periods of time by a plurality of top-rated language teachers who are genuinely passionate about what they do?

Babbel Live, which offers super affordable online language courses as part of a more deluxe subscription tier to the Babbel app, gives you access to the best, most engaging teachers there are. Our teachers not only bring their own expert knowledge into every student interaction, but also keep things interesting and fun. In other words, this is not your typical language class.

Whether you’re deep on your language learning journey or just getting started, here’s a dose of insight and a small taste of what you can expect when you sign up for Babbel Live classes.


A 6-language polyglot’s favorite language learning tips. #polyglot #políglota #políglotacheck #languagelearning #aprenderingles #aprendeidiomas #aprendeingles #polyglottips

♬ Warm Nights – LAKEY INSPIRED

Top Tips From Babbel Live Teachers

1. “Ish” gives you wiggle room in English

One of the tips I have for my English language learners: the word “ish” can give you a lot of wiggle room. We like using “-ish” with time phrases to say “around the time we want to do something.” For example: “Oh, I’m gonna be at the cinema at 10-ish.” This doesn’t mean I’m gonna be there exactly at 10! It means I’m gonna be there at maybe 10:05, 10:15 — because it’s “ish.”

Another tip I have is that when you’re not sure or you want to sound more polite, just make your statement into a question. For example, if I am at a restaurant and I want to order a hamburger, I wouldn’t say “I want a hamburger.” I would say, “Can I have a hamburger?” Of course, no one is going to stop me from getting a hamburger. I’m not asking for permission. It’s just more polite if I ask.

— Ena, English teacher

2. Learn a handful of colloquial (and regional) ways to say you like something — you’ll sound more natural

If you’re looking for an informal, colloquial way to address your friends in Spanish, look for words like che (which is used in Argentina), cuate (which they say in Mexico), and parce or pana (which is used in Venezuela and Colombia).

Another tip of mine is to find different ways to express that you like something without making it sound too formal. Using words like “wonderful” or “fantastic” can sound a bit stiff. So, try to choose other words like chévere, chido, guay or copado. These are used in different Spanish-speaking countries and are an informal way to express your emotions and to talk about things you think are “cool.”

— Natalia, Spanish teacher

3. Use filler words to sound like a real German (or Italian, or…)

Many people see German as a very complicated language with very long words, but what many people don’t know is that these words are usually compound words and it’s actually quite easy to guess their meaning. For example, Handschuh literally translates to “hand shoe.” So when you know what a hand is and what a shoe is, it is easy to figure out that this is the German word for “glove.”

Here is another tip I can give you: To sound like a native speaker, use filler words, which are words that don’t really mean anything, but emphasize certain parts of what you’re saying. Examples in German are doch, ja and mal.

For example: When you help a friend and she is very thankful for your help, then you can say, Das habe ich doch gern getan, which means it was absolutely no problem for you. You can say das habe ich gern getan and the message is essentially the same, but the word doch adds emphasis that it was done out of pleasure.

— Melina, German teacher

4. No one really says magnifique or fantastique in French

To sound more natural in French, you can use adjectives like super, génial, top or cool instead of magnifique or fantastique, which sound a bit too bookish.

Here’s something for your pronunciation: au and eau are pronounced like “oh.” The lips are very rounded, the back of the tongue is in the back of the mouth, and the mouth is quite closed.

Meanwhile, eu and oeu are pronounced like “er” in “her.” The lips are slightly rounded, the mouth is open, and the tongue is forward.

— Felicia, French teacher

5. Hot tip: Italian is spoken like it’s written

In Italian, every single letter has its own pronunciation. There are some basic rules to learn because pronunciation changes according to the following letter, but it is mostly spoken as it’s written.

Some examples: The letter c (“chi” in Italian) is pronounced “ch” like in “chess” if the following letter is e or i. For example, our way of saying “cheers!” is Cin-cin! Otherwise, c is pronounced like the c in “cake” — for instance, our word for coffee, caffé. A perfect example to illustrate both of these use cases would be the word for our most famous bread, focaccia.

Mara, Italian teacher

What’s Babbel Live?

Babbel Live helps you accelerate your learning with a flexible, completely remote platform that lets you take online classes whenever you want. Taking live classes in addition to using the app is an effective way to speed you along to sounding natural in a new language. You’ll practice speaking, listening comprehension, and responding to real-life scenarios in a new environment — the best way to learn.

A lot of the things you’ll learn from our Babbel Live teachers are helpful tricks that help you retain things you may have been struggling to grasp with our in-app lessons. It all goes together. With your Babbel Live subscription, you’ll gain complimentary access to the Babbel app, our award-winning podcasts, short stories, games, magazine articles, and more. All these resources have been designed to work together to help you retain all the information you’ve learned.

Our teachers tend to emphasize the culture behind the language over hard and fast rules. Rather than drill the same grammar rules, vocabulary, and pronunciation, our teachers will make sure you know how to use what you’ve learned in the right cultural setting.

Everything you’ll learn in our online language courses is aligned with scenarios you will actually need to use. More importantly, Babbel Live is a great way to practice actually having conversations with other people — to learn conversational skills, like using filler words, for example. After all, that’s why you’re learning a language — to connect with other people!

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