If the idea of language learning conjures up images of flipping through textbook pages and running grammar drills until your brain goes numb, we get it. It’s probably because your experiences with picking up a new tongue in the past have framed it for you as something just as mundane and uninspiring as a household chore — and the thought of adding more duties to your to-do list can hold you back from actually engaging with a new learning endeavor. But there are plenty of ways to make language learning less boring that will shake up the monotony of mastering a new tongue — so it doesn’t have to be so horribly laborious.
You’ll find that when you look for them, fun and exciting language-learning strategies are everywhere around you — and we’re here to share them! Read on to learn about tips, tricks and strategies to make language learning less boring. (Because even though you shouldn’t need an excuse to have fun, we’re still giving you one!)
4 Ways To Make Language Learning Less Boring
Binge-Watch And Don’t Feel Bad About It
Remember when your parents used to tell you that sitting in front of a TV screen all day would turn your brain to mush? What if you had the perfect excuse to indulge the child in you and consume as much television as humanly possible? Look to language learning as your perfect rationale for binge-watching TV or a movie marathon and leave all the guilt behind! (And eat as many sugary snacks as you want to while you do it.)
The good news is that when it comes to learning how languages are used in real-life contexts and situations, the most authentic resources to turn to are the ones that real native speakers consume and interact with regularly. And it’s no surprise that TV and movies top that list. It’s a fun and passive pastime around the world to sit back with remote in hand while colors and shapes dance on a screen.
Though watching foreign-language TV or movies won’t be as easy as watching one in your native language, it makes for an excellent challenge that can be just as enjoyable. There is a seemingly infinite number of foreign-language shows you can consume on the streaming sites and apps you know and love.
When watching, you can put the subtitles on in your native language or in your target language for a little extra difficulty. Or, you can see what happens when you opt for no subtitles and try to pick up phrases and expressions where you can. It’s harder, but it’s the perfect way to train your ear as if you were having a real conversation with a native speaker.
Beyond just TV and movies, you can listen to foreign language podcasts and music to multitask while you learn. And for some, slogging through a book (especially one written in a foreign language) isn’t exactly their idea of fun, but if you’re a seasoned reader and devoted bookworm, you might enjoy cozying up with a good novel or collection of foreign-language shorts stories (and a dictionary at the ready, of course, to help you look up the scores of words whose translations you’re likely not to know).
Get A Friend Involved
Much of the reason so many people dread language learning is because they think it has to be a highly individualized endeavor, one that involves sitting alone at a desk memorizing vocab or staring at software on a computer screen. But language is all about back and forth, so why shouldn’t learning a new language be social?
The ideal is to be able to practice your new language with a friend who’s either learning it with you or who is a native speaker of that language. Then you can have conversations about whatever topic is the most fun for you, whether it’s the latest celebrity gossip or your plans for the weekend. Having a conversational partner who’s also an accomplice in adventure or just a great buddy to be around means that you can jump into the maybe less-than-work-appropriate topics you won’t find in a textbook but are just as important in your day-to-day.
If your friend isn’t learning the language with you, there are still plenty of ways they can help out. Even if that means just pointing at random objects and asking you to translate their names into your target language, the sheer laughter elicited from such a silly activity is one that will likely help cement at least something in your long-term memory.
Make Language Learning Less Boring By Making It A Game
Life isn’t about keeping score, but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat it like a game! Turning your foreign language pursuits into a sort of self-competition is one of the best ways to make language learning less boring. It’s all about the attitude you have going into learning.
A great option is to play one of the plethora of the world’s foreign-language games to add a playful and competitive twist to your learning journey. Whether they’re versions of your favorite classic word games that use words and expressions in your target language or board games you’ve never played because they hail from the far corners and cultures of the world, you’re bound to find endless opportunities to put your learning into practice while simultaneously stimulating your brain and entertaining yourself.
Another idea is to start a streak and challenge yourself to see how long you can keep it up — whether it’s how many days in a row you use an app like Babbel on your morning commute or how long you can go in one day without speaking your native language. If you’ve got friends who are picking up a new tongue with you, you can see who’s the most dedicated to learning a new language by offering rewards to those with the longest streaks or playfully punishing those who don’t practice by making them pick up the check at dinner, for example.
Take A Trip
Okay, so this one might not be as practical for the work-swamped, the vacation-day-deprived or the tightly budgeted. But if you’re practicing a new language, what better way to put your skills to good use than to put yourself in a place where you’ve got no choice but to use them? After all, it’s real-life conversations that are the goal of anyone’s language-learning endeavor; so why not go out and have some?
There are few better ways to learn a new language than by immersing yourself in it. When TV and movies aren’t enough and you’re itching to get away, consider taking a trip to a country where the population speaks the language you’re learning.
Reading street and road signs, ordering at restaurants, asking for directions and booking a hotel are just a few of the many ways you’ll be able to refine your language skills and learn to improvise and adapt with locals along the way.
It’s certain to make language learning less boring because all parts of the experience of traveling are more likely to be novel and exciting than just staying at home. And you’ll have direct access to so many native speakers that you’ll leave with plenty of practice under your belt and a lot more confidence, too (and maybe even a stellar Instagram shot from your travels).