23 Ways To Immerse Yourself In A Language Without Going Anywhere

You can surround yourself with your target language without having to pay for a plane ticket!
An overhead shot of a woman working at her desk to demonstrate language immersion

People always say that the best way to learn a language is through language immersion. Unfortunately, not all of us can afford to spend months on vacation in a country where a different language is spoken. Don’t get discouraged, though. Thanks to the miracle of technology, and some human ingenuity, you can surround yourself with a new language anytime, anywhere.

  1. Change your phone’s language settings. This one’s easy.
  2. Listen to a podcast or the news in a new language. Yes, I know you don’t need more podcasts to listen to, but do it anyway. There are a lot of great options out there, including Babbel’s own selection with learning podcasts in Spanish, French and Italian.
  3. Watch a TV show you like with subtitles in a different language. Netflix has a helpful section that allows you to search by subtitle languages. And if you need some more help, we have a guide to the best way to learn while watching TV, as well as language-by-language TV show recommendations.
  4. Label everything you own with post-its. This will also show your guests how cultured you are. Plus, it’ll help regularly expose you to the language you’re learning, so you can really feel like you’re getting into language immersion.
  5. Cook a meal using recipes in a different language. This can combine your love of language with your love of food, as well as let you explore a new culinary culture. Any mistakes you make will become very apparent at dinner time, though.
  6. Explore parts of the internet in other languages. Yes, the lingua franca of the internet is English, but there are tons of websites in other languages. If you need help tracking down good resources, here are some tips to getting the most use out of the internet for language learning.
  7. Read the news in a different language. Face it, you’re sick of reading the news in English anyway. The BBC offers lots of languages, but you can also read the local news to learn about the culture of the language you’re learning.
  8. Train your dog or cat in a different language. Just kidding, cats only speak Purrsian. But in all seriousness, training your dog in another language is not only possible but it can be a lot of fun. The vocab might be limited, but it’s at least a neat party trick.
  9. Get a pen pal who lives another country. There are lots of places online you can meet people! You can try to find someone learning the same language as you, or you can find someone learning English and trade off.
  10. Watch movies from other countries. You can’t really appreciate Ratatouille until you’ve seen it in French. Plus, there are a ton of great movies that weren’t originally in English. The rise of streaming services has made exploring your options easier than ever.
  11. Write out your to-do list in another language. Adding simple tasks like this to your day will make sure that you get at least some language practice, even if you don’t have time to sit down and do a lesson. You know, as long as you don’t get stuck trying to remember what you wrote.
  12. Order food using another language. It can come across as condescending if you start speaking, say, Spanish when you’re ordering tapas, but if you find a jovial bilingual waiter it can be worth a try. And try to get the pronunciation right!
  13. Play video games in another language. This could mean either changing the settings of the video games, or playing multiplayer games with people who speak another language. There’s no reason the only language you need to learn in World of Warcraft is Elven.
  14. Speak to your coworkers in a different language. It’ll help if, you know, they actually have an interest in the language. Who knows, maybe you’ll get your whole office onto the language immersion train!
  15. Create a finsta for your language alter ego. Whether you like fashion, food or travel, we have Instagram accounts you can follow in Italian, French, Spanish and German. And if you don’t want to fill your main Instagram feed with content in another language, make a second Instagram just for learning! @mary is a regular gal, but @marita can be whoever you want her to be.
  16. Start to tweet in another language. Like Instagram, Twitter combine your interests with your language learning. We have follow recommendations for Spanish and French, but it’s not hard to find accounts in any language. If the Pope can tweet in Latin, so can you.
  17. Read books in translation. Reading in translation is fine, but being able to understand literature in its original language is a fantastic experience. If you’re just starting out, you’ll probably want to keep a dictionary nearby.
  18. Read BuzzFeed in another language. Don’t pretend you’ve never clicked on their articles. While many websites have versions of their articles in multiple languages, BuzzFeed has enough content to keep any language learner interested.
  19. Join Facebook groups. While it seemed like everyone was abandoning Facebook a few years ago, Facebook groups have brought a lot of people back. There are groups devoted to all kinds of topics, whether you want to find a community that specifically discusses language learning, or you just want to find funny memes in Spanish. After all, memes are the only universal language.
  20. Listen to music in other languages. No, not just “Despacito.” Music can be a great resource, whether you’re studiously translating the lyrics in your head or just playing songs you like in the background (language immersion doesn’t mean you have to be paying attention to vocab and grammar all the time). If you don’t now where to start, we have beginner playlists in German, Swedish and Spanish.
  21. Learn to curse in a new language. You’ll probably get in less trouble if you do. And, yes, we have guides for this, too.
  22. Journal in another language. This is also a good way to record your language journey, and you can see yourself getting better over time. Depending on how creative you want to be, you can create an Instagram-worthy language journal that’s both useful and beautiful.
  23. Oh, and also, you could get a language-learning app. We have a few suggestions. Fine, one suggestion.
Get started on number 23.
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