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The major thing I want you to take away from this article is that you can make language learning fun. That’s what we’re all about here at Cultured Simplicity. And I’m going to show you how.
Ever wondered: what is the best way to learn a second language? Or simply what is the best way to learn a language by yourself?
If you can’t quite relate to those two questions, you’ll still likely answer yes for one of these next two.
Is that sedentary lifestyle finally getting to you? Or perhaps the ever-growing trend to get 10,000 steps per day? You’re not alone. Keeping active was a struggle before quarantine; but now? It’s a very effortful commitment.
However, what If I told you you can have your cake and eat it too? As in you can effectively learn a new language by yourself while keeping up a movement regiment?
Spoiler: you can. Thanks to a little thing I like to call self discipline.
If you weren’t yet aware (which I find highly unlikely), both language learning and exercise require self discipline. You have to be willing to take a leap to do both and more importantly, stick with them. (Already lost you? Check out these 10 reasons you might hate language learning and how to boost your language learning motivation!)
When it comes to learning a new language by yourself, you have to use as much mental power as you possibly can. Your energy is so valuable. But fortunately, you have more than one kind.
You can use mental energy and physical energy simultaneously without either taking a toll on the other. Have you ever been physical exhausted after solving a riddle? Or mentally drained after going on walk?
Quite on the contrary, right? In most cases, you feel rejuvenated.
After figuring out some complex math problem or riddle, you’ll feel like a boss, and more motivated to crunch out a workout. (Even if you’ve never noticed it before! Exercise really is mind over matter.) And if you’ve just finished walking, your mind will likely feel clearer, more focused, and ready to tackle your next mental task.
I say all that to say that you shouldn’t be worried that movement will disrupt your language study focus. You definitely can do both.
Not only is moving a great way to make language learning fun, but it’s also a great way to keep you from dozing off. If you keep your body physically alert, it’ll be alot easier to keep your mind mentally alert. (And vice versa, for sure!)
So here’s how to
make language learning fun get moving during your language study routine! Don’t forget to pin or bookmark this article for later; you’ll be needing it.
1. Stretch / Yoga + Pimsleur Audio Lessons
Stretching and low intensity yoga are some of the least mentally taxing and least physically exerting workouts out there. They’re all about moving with the flow and feeling good.
You can easily prop yourself into a down dog or cobra while focusing on one of Pimsleur’s amazing 30-minute audio lessons. Speaking from personal experience here.
Pimsleur is perfect for busy bodies who want to drive, clean, exercise, cook, or do something else while listening to a language learning podcast. But of course in our case, we’ll be stretching and flexing our joints.
Pimsleur is essentially an interactive “podcast” that you talk back to. It’s the closest you’ll get to having a conversation in your target language without actually having a conversation in your target language.
As for the movement part, I suggest starting out with stretches. Then gradually progress to easy yoga poses and build the intensity from there.
The major thing to remember here is that the movement shouldn’t distract you from what you’re listening to. You should still be able to listen and respond to the prompts regardless of what yoga pose you’re in.
But as implied earlier, the longer you acquaint your body with the movements, the easier that higher intensity poses will feel. You may not be able to focus on the audio lesson in a downdog position at the very beginning, but give yourself two weeks and you’ll likely be just fine.
Practice makes perfect. Or at least proficient. In both language learning and yoga.
Same goes for stretching. If you’re on the verge of tears when attempting a butterfly pose, you won’t be able to focus on the audio lesson.
Gradually progress to more intense stretches but don’t let them interfere with your learning. Keep in mind that learning a new language is more or less a forever (or at least a 6 months worth) goal. So you don’t have to rush the progress.
2. Walk & Listen to Language podcasts or audiobooks
This one is quite similar to number one. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to make language learning fun, or at least more enjoyable, go for a walk.
Grab your earbuds (or airpods for you fancy people out there) and hit the sidewalk, trail, or street, if you like living recklessly.
While Pimsleur may be my favorite audio-based language learning platform, there are still tons of audio sources out there for learning a language by yourself.
Of course, there’s YouTube — although audio lessons are harder to come by than video lessons.
And then there’s Audible. You can either try Audible Premium Plus and get up to two free audiobooks (like I did) or try Audible Plus. At the end of the day, they both give you access to audiobooks… and that’s all you need to get your language learning on.
Of course, you’ll need an audiobook or podcast that’s suitable to your proficiency in the language. If you’re still a beginner, I strongly suggest finding audiobooks or podcasts that are actually for learning a new language. As in skip the Spanish Harry Potter audiobook and go for that Spanish travel phrases audiobook.
Which is another reason why Pimsleur is so great. It’s geared toward your level of proficiency, explains new vocabulary, enforces grammar rules, and actually gives you the opportunity to practice your speaking skills.
That being said, I’m sure there are other platforms out there that are audio based and let you practice speaking that I just don’t know about.
So don’t be scared to do a little digging of your own. While yoga may not be for everyone, walking is. (If you’re not physically handicapped, of course.)
And if you already take regular walks, then simply plugging yourself into a language audio lesson while doing so won’t be hard at all.
You can even take your canine friend along with you. Breathe in the fresh air, stretch your legs, get your heart rate up, and soak in some Vitamin D.
All while learning a language.
3. Language exchange phone calls and pacing around your room (or house)
Italki is likely the most popular language exchange platform… and for good reason.
With Italki, you’re able to choose from over 10,000 teachers for 1-on-1 lessons based on your goals and interests. You only pay per lesson and at the price that meets your budget.
Plus you can learn from literally anywhere and at any time— all sessions are scheduled for when works best for you. Italki may be a fave among polyglots, but it’s emphasis on video calling is not always preferential over audio calling (If that’s what people call phone calls anyways.)
It’s easier to walk like a madwoman/madman when you don’t have to worry about your language exchange partner staring you down.
When it comes to audio calls, my favorite application is Lingbe. Their promise that users can “start real-time conversations with native speakers at the touch of a button,” is by no means an embellishment.
You literally just click the phone button and they’ll instantly ring others who are either learning your target language or native speakers of your target language. My only hang-up (no pun intended) is how quickly their in-app currency runs out. You spend 6 “lingbees” per minute when you talk to a native speaker, meaning your convos top off at about 10 minutes without a paid plan. It’s pretty hard to save up Lingbees if you’re not responding to ‘tasks’ posted by other users or spending your money.
So here’s my pro tip. Use Lingbe to meet a language exchange partner (or five) and then switch to another platform. Ask them for their Whatsapp or phone number. Bear in mind that Lingbe doesn’t allow the sharing of personal contact info in messages, so you’ll have to share your phone number one digit per message. Or ask for their Whatsapp in a language other than English, since Lingbe prevents you from sending messages containing the word “Whatsapp”.
As for the movement part, any old head knows the famous trek around a room one takes when he or she is in a serious phone call. And by serious, I also mean juicy.
Pacing around makes any conversation instantly more interesting. Walk the walk. Talk the talk.
And learn a language while you’re at it.
Didn’t I say you can make language learning fun?
4. Treadmill/Walk in place & watch foreign languages videos, shows, or movies
Now I know your mind probably immediately jumped to YouTube and Netflix for this one, but unfortunately, they’re just not as effective as actual language teaching applications. Especially if you’re going to be using English subtitles.
My suggestion? Innovative Language.
With Innovative Language, you learn directly from native speakers. Lessons are like personal classes, except you learn at your own pace.
You can learn practical, native-level conversations in minutes. Their teachers explain it all, word-by-word, in every lesson.
By joining, you get all new language lessons, all the time… for free. From Beginner to Advanced, and it’s available in 34 languages.
The languages that they offer both free and paid subscriptions in include:
- Chinese — Cantonese
- Chinese — Mandarin
And of course, Pimsleur would work perfectly as well. Walking in place is not a mentally taxing task at all, so you’ll definitely be able to focus on what you’re watching.
Oh, and if you’re on a treadmill, just don’t turn the speed up too high. Increase the elevation before you increase the speed if you want to intensify the movement. Jogging or running involves quite a lot of bobbing of the head.
And let’s be real– tiring yourself out physically easily translates into tiring yourself out mentally. Physical movement is only rejuvenating up to a certain point, and then it just becomes tiring. Save that precious brain power of yours.
Dance to foreign language songs
The fifth way to spice up your study routine and make language learning fun? Play some foreign music and get a solo dance party going.
Depending on the language you’re learning, it can be extremely easy to find straight-up bops in your target language. And there are even plenty of English songs that have been translated into popular foreign languages (especially Spanish and French.)
So hop on YouTube, Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, or whatever your application of choice is and search for songs.
And if you don’t know where to start, just head over to Google and search “popular songs in [your target language]”.
Keep in mind this is definitely a more advanced option, so you’ll probably want to get a pretty decent foundation in the language before hopping into songs.
However, children’s songs just may do the trick for beginners. So don’t hesitate to throw a bit of pride away. Trust me, nobody cares. Everyone has to start somewhere right? And technically you’re still just a kid in the language that you’re learning. (Maybe even a baby — and that’s okay!)
Dancing is definitely a fool-proof way to make language learning fun. Just don’t have too much fun.
Same as the earlier tips, your movement shouldn’t distract you from what you’re hearing.
Learning comes first. Dancing comes second. So save your boogiest grooves for Saturday night.
Don’t miss out
So now that you you know you can make language learning fun, I hope to see you back at Cultured Simplicity very soon — or dare I say, muy pronto 😉
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Keep learning languages my friend! And I look forward to seeing you again real soon.