“I can’t afford to buy study materials”

“Between work and responsibilities at home, I just don’t have the time to study.”

“I can’t find a partner for speaking practice.”

Excuses.  Trust us, we’ve heard them all.  And they just don’t work with us.  The truth is, if you really want to learn a language, you’ll find a way to do it.  There’s actually many easy, simple and fun ways to infuse language-learning into your everyday routine – most of which cost little or nothing at all.  To prove it, we put together a list of 20 suggestions to get you started.

1.  Read a news article in a foreign language.

2.  Write a status update or tweet in a foreign language.

3.  Listen to the live feed of an international radio station online.

4.  Sign up for an international pen pal and exchange emails on a regular basis.

5.  Cook from a recipe that is written entirely in a foreign language.

6.  Rent a foreign movie and watch it without the subtitles.  If that’s too difficult, try turning on the closed captions so that you can see the lines written in the original language, rather than the translated version.

7.  Download a trivia app for your smartphone that’s in the language you’d like to learn.  Still a beginner?  Try looking for a children’s version for simpler phrasing.

8.  Next time you go to the store, practice writing your shopping list entirely in the language you are studying.

9.  Visit a foreign restaurant and try ordering in the language.

10.  Have a partner to study with?  Try playing “I Spy,” “20 Questions,” or Scrabble in the language you’re studying.

11.  In a relationship?  Come up with some fun pet names for your significant other that are in a foreign language (like “Schatz” in German or “Chéri” in French).  Up for a challenge?  Practice writing an entire love letter.

12.  Check out the foreign music charts, pick a couple songs, and see if you can understand the lyrics.  Too difficult?  Look up the lyrics online and you’ve got a great translation challenge!

13.  Next time you need directions, look them up in a foreign language by going to an international version of the Google Maps site (for example: the German, French, or Spanish site).  It’s a great way to learn vocabulary!

14.  Join a foreign language Meetup in your area.

15.  Finding foreign or international clubs or associations in your area is probably easier than you think.  Think outside the box when you’re searching: schools, college campuses, and even churches or other religious organizations can be a great place to look for clubs.

16.  What’s your favorite TV show?  Chances are it either has a counterpart (like American Idol or Survivor) or a dubbed version in a foreign language.  Try downloading episodes or look for clips online to watch.  Alternatively, you could purchase a DVD set online – just be aware that you may need an international DVD player in order to watch it.

17.  “Like” or “follow” a foreign company on Facebook or Twitter.  This will infuse your newsfeed with foreign language content.

18.  Looking for a fun way to practice vocabulary?  Each day, pick a different topic to focus on (e.g. animals, food & drink, or family members) and see how many words you can list for that topic.  Each time you make a list, try to list more words than the day before.  If you want to take this challenge to the next level, see if you can come up with a word beginning with each letter of the alphabet.

19.  Did you know that official Wikipedias have been created in 285 languages?  So if you’re looking for seemingly endless content and articles to browse (on almost any topic), then look no further.

20.  Turn your down-time into language-learning time.  Practice vocab while getting ready in the morning, have a conversation with yourself in the shower (nobody will know – we promise!), or doodle conjugation charts on your lunch break.  Sitting in traffic?  Listen to foreign music and practice singing along.  See?  Almost any situation can be turned into a language-learning opportunity.  There’s simply no excuse not to try.

Remember everyone – let’s make this the year that you commit to learning a foreign language!  Join us on Facebook and Twitter.  #LanguageResolution.  Together, we can do it.

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5 Responses to No Excuses: 20 Simple & Fun Ways to Practice a Foreign Language

  1. Kelli says:

    I have all 3 German language journeys and I am about half way through the 2nd one. I haven’t had any chance to actually practice my skills, so I really appreciate all these suggestions. I already found a German company to follow on Facebook. That is a really great idea since I’m on there all the time anyway. I am taking my first trip to Germany in 3 weeks and I am so nervous about actually using my new language skills. I hope I can remember everything I’ve learned. Thanks for the great blog! I will definitely be trying to get some extra practice in before I leave for my trip!

    • Hi Kelli, thanks so much for the great feedback! I’m glad that you found some of our suggestions helpful. Viel Glueck in Deutschland! I’m sure you’ll have a great time. Don’t be afraid to practice your language skills – I’ve always found the locals to be really friendly, helpful, and appreciative when I speak to them in German.

  2. [...] Italy? How about popping in a foreign film tonight to get you motivated to keep learning? Check out our post from last week to get some ideas for more fun ways to practice your new [...]

  3. Em8649 says:

    Thank you for this blog and these wonderful suggestions. I regularly speak with language partners from Québec, Germany, France, Switzerland, etc. via Skype. I have chatted with a Russian who spoke no English, and I know no Russian. Our common language was French. Even though my French language skills are not that great, we were able communicate by speaking and writing with Skype.

    I don’t know if I can mention another language website here, but I’ve found most of my conversation exchange friends on My Language Exchange (www.mylanguageexchange.com). This site does not teach languages, but it helps members find language partners. It also has suggestions and lesson plans for language exchanges.

  4. Thomas says:

    I’ve been using Mango since Sept./Oct. 2012- working on Chinese I love it. I just started a second one French for my background.

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