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The 6 Best, Free Ways to Speak a New Language This Year

The 6 Best, Free Ways to Speak a New Language This Year

The hardest part about language learning is not comprehension, but oral.

We all have the same excuses the we play over our heads:

“I don’t know what to say…”
“What if I’m saying something completely different?”
“What if I don’t understand their response?”

Yet it’s not entirely our fault. The majority of people that want to learn a language do so in order to be able to speak with a native speaker, whether you’re in an international organization, traveling, or have a foreign speaking family member. The traditional methods of language learning are primarily focused on vocabulary and grammar. No wonder why we blank out when conversing, even after months of learning! As the old saying goes: “if you want to learn something, learn by doing.”

Here are 6 best (and free) ways to speak a foreign language this year.

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1. Michel Thomas

Michel Thomas is a well-recognized podcast and teacher, helping you learn the basics and conversation skills through his audio tapes. Although it’s a paid product, there are several places online, where you can find free episodes. This is highly recommended for people who are looking improve their listening skills. The audio tapes help you understand the pronounciation of various accents and common responses you will hear during conversations.

If you want to practice your speaking skills, you can repeat aloud what Michel is teaching his students.

2. TV and movies in Spanish

If you’d rather watch TV and movies, there are several places you can find shows with foreign language audio and subtitles.

subtitle-of-a-blu-ray-movie

    As mentioned in this article, here’s how you should be watching depending on your language skill level:

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    • A beginner: Watch with foreign subtitle and native audio
    • An intermediate: Watch with native subtitle and foreign subtitle
    • An advanced-intermediate: Watch with foreign audio and no subtitle (or foreign subtitle)

    3. Your own network

    Chances are that if you’re learning a popular language like Spanish, French, or Mandarin, you may have a colleague or a friend that already speaks the language. A shortcut to this approach is to go on Facebook and use Open Graph Search to check if any of your friends are part of a group associated with the language you want to learn. For example: “Spanish conversation exchange.”

    You can reach out to gauge their interest in helping you improve, but you identify those that want to learn a language you can also help them out in. Make sure to give each other enough time to practice your respective languages, and treat it as an exchange. Many people reading this may not want to bother their colleagues or friends to help them practice on a consistent basis, nor have someone to practice with in their network.

    This is where language meetups thrive.

    4. Language meetups

    Today, there are thousands of new language meetups popping up every month around the world. With the rising importance of language learning, you can find meetups for most popular languages such as Spanish, French, or Italian in your local city.

    This is where fellow language lovers unite and share their passion for the new languages they are learning. From personal experience, you won’t get in much real-world practice at these events, but it’s a great way to build relationships with people you have something in common with. You can find local events near you from the following websites:

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    5. Conversation exchanges

    If you enjoy the concept of meeting fellow language learners, yet would rather be at home, conversation exchanges could be your route. In short, conversation exchanges are where you can meet people who are learning the same language as you or sometimes fluent in the language you want to learn.

    People can converse over email, text, phone call, or video chat, whichever you and your partner agrees with. Many also use it to simply meet people online with similar interests, as most language learners are recognized for their open-mindedness. Patience and time is a key asset if you want to make the most out of conversation exchanges.

    Due to the lack of commitment most students have for the platform, you’ll face a difficult process of finding the right partner that has the time, skills, and personality match to practice with you. In addition, you may experience several no-shows due to its lack of structure.

    6. Language learning platforms

    Many of us don’t have the time nor patience to coordinate schedules and depend on other people’s commitment levels. The reason why most of us quit learning before reaching fluency is the lack of accountability, personalization, and time. I mean, let’s face it. We’re all busy!

    Rype for example, solves all of these problems. They match you with a pre-vetted professional teachers for one-on-one lessons and customize the lessons based on your needs. Think personalized language learning — right from home.

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      Since we all have personal reason and goals of learning a language, Rype has customized packages you can choose from to meet your specific needs, such as The Traveller Package (for travelers), The Starter Package (for beginners), and Rype Club (for busy individuals).

      You can receive a free complementary lesson in Spanish for 30 minutes on their website, and they have a free language learning course that you can check out.

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      Sean Kim

      Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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      Last Updated on September 28, 2020

      How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

      How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

      The brain is a tangled web of information. We don’t remember single facts, but instead we interlink everything by association. Anytime we experience a new event, our brains tie the sights, smells, sounds and our own impressions together into a new relationship.

      Our brain remembers things by repetition, association, visual imagery, and all five senses. By knowing a bit about how the brain works, we can become better learners, absorbing new information faster than ever.

      Here are some study tips to help get you started:

      1. Use Flashcards

      Our brains create engrained memories through repetition. The more times we hear, see, or repeat something to ourselves, the more likely we are to remember it.

      Flashcards can help you learn new subjects quickly and efficiently. Flashcards allow you to study anywhere at any time. Their portable nature lends them to quick study sessions on the bus, in traffic, at lunch, or in the doctor’s office. You can always whip out your flashcards for a quick 2 to 3 minute study session.

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      To create effective flashcards, you need to put one point on each flashcard. Don’t load up the entire card with information. That’s just overload. Instead, you should dedicate one concept to each card.

      One of the best ways to make flashcards is to put 1 question on the front and one answer on the back. This way, you can repeatedly quiz yourself into you have mastered any topic of your choice.

      Commit to reading through your flash cards at least 3 times a day and you will be amazed at how quickly you pick up new information.

      As Tony Robbins says,

      “Repetition is the mother of skill”.

      2. Create the Right Environment

      Often times, where you study can be just as important as how you study. For an optimum learning environment, you’ll want to find a nice spot that is fairly peaceful. Some people can’t stand a deafening silence, but you certainly don’t want to study near constant distractions.

      Find a spot that you can call your own, with plenty of room to spread out your stuff. Go there each time you study and you will find yourself adapting to a productive study schedule. When you study in the same place each time, you become more productive in that spot because you associate it with studying.

      3. Use Acronyms to Remember Information

      In your quest for knowledge, you may have once heard of an odd term called “mnemonics”. However, even if you haven’t heard of this word, you have certainly heard of its many applications. One of the most popular mnemonic examples is “Every Good Boy Does Fine”. This is an acronym used to help musicians and students to remember the notes on a treble clef stave.

      An acronym is simply an abbreviation formed using the intial letters of a word. These types of memory aids can help you to learn large quantities of information in a short period of time.

      4. Listen to Music

      Research has long shown that certain types of music help you to recall information. Information learned while listening to a particular song can often be remembered simply by “playing” the songs mentally in your head.

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      5. Rewrite Your Notes

      This can be done by hand or on the computer. However, you should keep in mind that writing by hand can often stimulate more neural activity than when writing on the computer.

      Everyone should study their notes at home but often times, simply re-reading them is too passive. Re-reading your notes can cause you to become disengaged and distracted.

      To get the most out of your study time, make sure that it is active. Rewriting your notes turns a passive study time into an active and engaging learning tool. You can begin using this technique by buying two notebooks for each of your classes. Dedicate one of the notebooks for making notes during each class. Dedicate the other notebook to rewriting your notes outside of class.

      6. Engage Your Emotions

      Emotions play a very important part in your memory. Think about it. The last time you went to a party, which people did you remember? The lady who made you laugh, the man who hurt your feelings, and the kid who went screaming through the halls are the ones you will remember. They are the ones who had an emotional impact.

      Fortunately, you can use the power of emotion in your own study sessions. Enhance your memory by using your five senses. Don’t just memorize facts. Don’t just see and hear the words in your mind. Create a vivid visual picture of what you are trying to learn.

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      For example, if you are trying to learn the many parts of a human cell, begin physically rotating the cell in your minds eye. Imagine what each part might feel like. Begin to take the cell apart piece by piece and then reconstruct it. Paint the human cell with vivid colors. Enlarge the cell in your mind’s eye so that it is now six feet tall and putting on your own personal comedy show. This visual and emotional mind play will help deeply encode information into your memory.

      7. Make Associations

      One of the best ways to learn new things is to relate what you want to learn with something you already know. This is known as association, and it is the mental glue that drives your brain.

      Have you ever listened to a song and been flooded by memories that were connected to it? Have you ever seen an old friend that triggered memories from childhood? This is the power of association.

      To maximize our mental powers, we must constantly be looking for ways to relate new information with old ideas and concepts that we are already familiar with.

      You can do this with the use of mindmapping. A mind map is used to diagram words, pictures, thoughts, and ideas into a an interconnected web of information. This simple practice will help you to connect everything you learn into a global network of knowledge that can be pulled from at any moment.

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      Learn more about mindmapping here: How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

      Featured photo credit: Alissa De Leva via unsplash.com

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