Written by: 
Valentina Botica Sunday, 12 April, 2020 - 13:49

Quarantine Time: Learn a Language!

Are you in quarantine? Or maybe cuarentena? Or if you please, quarentena? Karanténa? Whichever you go for, you end up with the same thing - not leaving the house! Or in other words, time to do something for you.

It is hard to predict how long your house is going to be the hottest spot in town, but you can see it as an opportunity for your personal growth, for engaging in fun hobbies that you always find excuses for, and for learning new things. Something that combines all three elements that we mentioned - is LANGUAGES!

Is there a better time to start learning a language you always wanted to know but didn't have enough time to do so? No there isn’t. Use this “cuarentena” time and become the polyglot you always wanted to be!

Choose the Right Language for You

Even though some languages can be easier to learn for a larger number of people, there is no universal list of the easiest or hardest languages. Why is that so? Because the challenge of learning a new language largely depends on your mother tongue and your previous experience with that language. 

The ones that will be the easiest for you to tackle are the ones that are in the same language family as your mother tongue. So for example, for native English speakers, it is easier to learn Dutch, while for Spaniards, Italian would likely come more naturally.

Furthermore, if you have been exposed to a certain language during your life, it is more likely you will remember some words and phrases that lie somewhere in the back of your head. For example, if your neighbours spoke Polish, or you watched a lot of Mexican soap operas during your childhood, tackling those might be easier for you.

If you aren’t sure about your next pursuit on the way to being a polyglot, try out this test from Busuu programme. According to your background, it is going to tell you which language is the most suitable for you. Let us know if it got it right!

Choose the Most Efficient App

Luckily, technology is our friend, and adorable language learning apps are always available. Depending on our preferences, we can choose more serious ones such as Rosetta Stone, a great (but not free) option for really determined people, or the easy-going and intuitive Duolingo, the free version of which is more than you will ever need. 

IE languages has some nice studying content, varying from basic phrases and alphabets to more complex sentence structures, and Busuu will teach you through pictures, speaking, and interaction. It is up to you to choose the one that suits your learning style the best - maybe you can even learn from two of them at the same time to take a better grasp of the language’s variety!

Here are some suggestions for the best apps out there at the moment!

Hear the Language, Listen, Repeat

By listening, whether it’s music or films, we often “catch” words, sounds, phrases and expressions, and without even thinking about it, our brain stores them somewhere in the back. How many times have you blurted out some slang expression that you didn’t even know you knew? It’s because our brain works for us even when we don’t, and as always, the more we hear something, the more likely we are to remember it. 

That’s why it is crucial to listen to the new language you’re learning, Take 10 minutes and do some research on the best movies in the language you wish to learn and start your studying session with some popcorn!

As for music junkies, learning your new favourite language with the help of that country’s tunes is a definite win-win. You will end up singing along to the newly learned lines which will help your pronunciation, the repetition will help those phrases get stuck in your mind, and the emotion the music reflects will connect the words to a certain moment. Read more on why learning with music is your way to go!

A fun app that might also help you, especially if you have a competitive spirit, is Lyrics Training. While listening to a song, try to type as many missing lyrics as possible. You can even compete with your friends!

Write, Read, Write, Read, Repeat

Reading helps in a similar way. Some people are visual learners, so it helps them to see the written word, write it down and repeat it. The good thing about learning while reading is that you can do it at your own pace - you can reread the sentence as many times you need, look it up in your dictionary, and even try to place it in your own sentences. Naturally, everything depends on your preferences, but our recommendation is to combine both listening and reading for the fastest, best results. Here are some tips on how to maximise the benefits of reading in another language.

Social Connecting while Social Distancing 

And to top it all off, speaking the language with a fluent speaker, or even better, with a local, is the best way to learn. Since going out and chatting over a cup of coffee isn’t possible, you can find a way to connect via the internet. Ask international students or friends if they would like to get to know you over a pleasant Skype session, or ask your ESN section to organise a virtual Language Tandem. It is an easy way to connect, make friends, and practice the language of your dreams. 

No Excuses!

We hope these tips motivated you to take the step and finally invest time in a new language. As they say, “the more languages you know, the more you’re worth”. It is true because you not only learn how to say things, but you also understand the idioms, the cultural background, the phrases and the way people think. It is much more than just speaking foreign words, it is enriching your mind and soul. Time to start - now!

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