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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.

      More by this author

      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 November 17, 2019

      40 Amazing Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

      40 Amazing Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

      With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, starry-eyed lovers worldwide are getting ready to celebrate their love and planning the perfect date for their partner. However, there are many loving, caring, and generally great people out there who simply can’t think of a single romantic thing to do, let alone create the ultimate Valentine’s Day experience for their loved one. If you are looking for some great date ideas that will put a smile on your partner’s face and melt their heart, then just keep on reading. I’ve got a pretty big list of choices for you. Here are some great ideas ranging from tried and true classics, to the fun and slightly unconventional.

      1. Rom-coms marathon

      This is a very basic yet highly romantic way of spending the day with your partner. Take a few days to prepare the right playlist and create a romantic atmosphere at home. You can order out some food, open a bottle of wine and cuddle up in front of the TV.

      2. Recreate your first date

      Rated pretty high on the “romantic gestures scale,” this is guaranteed to impress your significant other. It requires a good memory and a bit of work to make it just right, but it is well worth it. Walk down the same streets where you first kissed and have a couple of drinks in that old coffee shop where you had your first drinks together. Don’t be afraid to spend a bit extra and add a little romantic gift into the mix.

      3. Cook for your loved one

      Start researching good recipes for a romantic dinner for two, get the right ingredients and prepare a couple of practice dinners to make sure you’ve got your technique and presentation down pat. Cooking for someone can be a big turn on and you can create some incredible meals without spending too much money. Take it up a notch by dressing classy, decorating your dining room and presenting your partner with a printed menu.

      4. Organize your very own ancient Greek party

      Here’s another one of those creative date ideas for the stay-at-home couple. The ancient Greek private party can be a very fun and erotic experience. You can decorate by using big bowls full of grapes, spreading some white sheets all over the place, placing some plastic vines here and there, putting up a few posters depicting Greek parties and having plenty of wine lying around. Wear nothing but light sheets or costumes and channel some of that hot-blooded Greek spirit.

      5. A romantic weekend getaway in the mountains

      For those looking for a change of scenery and an escape from the busy city, there is nothing better than a quiet, romantic weekend in the mountains. There are plenty of fun activities like skiing that will keep you active. You can have fun making a snowman or engaging in a snowball fight, and, of course, there is plenty of privacy and great room service waiting for you back at your room.

      6. Fun day at the shooting range

      A bit unconventional but an incredibly fun and exciting date that will get your blood pumping and put a huge smile on your faces. Try out a number of guns and have a bit of a competition. Some outdoor ranges have fully automatic rifles, which are a blast to shoot.

      7. Rent an expensive sports car for a day

      Don’t be afraid to live large from time to time—even if you can’t afford the glamorous lifestyle of the stars, you can most definitely play pretend for a day. Put on some classy clothes and drive around town in a rented sports car. The quick acceleration and high speed are sure to provide an exhilarating experience.

      8. Go on a shopping spree together

      Very few things can elicit such a huge dopamine rush as a good old shopping spree. Get some new lingerie, pretty shoes, a nice shirt and tie, a couple of new video games or whatever else you need or want. This is a unique chance to bond, have fun and get some stuff that you’ve been waiting to buy for a while now.

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      9. Hit the clubs

      For all the party animals out there, one of the best date ideas is to go out drinking, dancing, and just generally enjoying the night life. Visit a few good clubs, then go to an after-party and keep that party spirit going for as long as you can.

      10. Spend the day driving around the city and visiting new places

      This one is geared towards couples who have been together for a year or two and want to experience a few new things together. Visit a few cool coffee places on the other side of town, check out interesting restaurants you’ve never been to, and consider going to see a play or having fun at a comedy club on open mic night.

      11. Wine and chocolates at sunset

      Pick out a romantic location, such as a camping spot on a hill overlooking the city or a balcony in a restaurant with a nice view, open a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates and wait for that perfect moment when the sky turns fiery red to embrace and share a passionate kiss.

      12. Ice skating

      There is something incredibly fun about ice skating that brings people closer together and just keeps you laughing (maybe it’s all the falling and clinging to the other person for dear life). You can have some great fun and then move on to a more private location for some alone time.

      13. Body painting

      Speaking of private locations and intimate moments, body painting allows you to spice things up back at your place and add a new element of fun to foreplay. You’ll need adequate body paints and some brushes and the rest is up to you. You can do tiger stripes, paint a t-shirt on your partner, or go for something more abstract—the choice is yours.

      14. Model clothes for each other

      This one goes well when combined with a shopping spree, but you can just get a bunch of your clothes—old and new—from the closet, set up a catwalk area and then try on different combinations. You can be stylish, funny or beautiful. It’s a great after-dinner show and a good way to transition into a more intimate atmosphere.

      15. Dance the night away

      If you and your significant other are relatively good dancers, or if you simply enjoy moving your body to the rhythm of the music, then a night at salsa club or similar venue is the perfect thing for you. Alternatively, you can set up dance floor at home, play your favorite music, have a few drinks and dance like there is no tomorrow.

      16. Lock the doors, turn off the phones and have the whole house to yourselves

      This one might seem a bit obvious and kind of redundant seeing as how I’ve already mentioned a bunch of stay-at-home date ideas that require this step as a prerequisite, but when I say, “Have the whole house to yourselves,” I literally mean turning the whole house into romantic stage where you can explore your fantasies. Decorate each room a bit differently, have a lot of snacks and drinks lying around, put a bunch of blankets and pillows on the floor and go from room to room throughout the day. You can start off with a steaming shower, have a romantic meal, then watch a movie cuddled up on the couch and eventually make your way to the bedroom.

      17. Organize a nature walk

      Being outside has many health benefits, but what you are going for is the beautiful view, seclusion, and the thrill of engaging in some erotic behavior out in the open. You can rent a cottage far from the city, bring some food and drinks, and explore the wilderness. This is nice way to spice things up a bit and get away from the loud and busy city life.

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      18. Act out a fun scenario wearing costumes

      Some role-playing may be just the thing you need to spice up your love life after a few years of being together, but it can be a very fun experience for new couples as well. Work on the scenario together (wounded soldier and nurse, a female cop arresting a robber, etc.), buy the right costumes and accessories beforehand and find a good setting. You could also rent a hotel room to add to the forbidden-fruit vibe.

      19. Travel abroad

      This takes a bit of planning in advance and may be a bit costly, but if you can afford it, there are very few things that can match a trip to France, Italy, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, or a number of other excellent locations.

      20. Go on a hot-air balloon ride

      These are very fun and romantic—you get an incredible view, get to experience the thrill of flying, and you’ve got enough room for a romantic dinner and some champagne. Just be sure to wear warm clothes, it can get pretty cold high up in the air.

      21. A relaxing day at the spa

      Treat your body, mind and senses to a relaxing day at the spa. You and your partner will feel fresh, comfortable and relaxed—a perfect date for the more serious couples who don’t get to spend as much time with each other as they’d like.

      22. A trip down memory lane

      This one is great for long-term couples who will benefit from reminiscing about all of their fondest memories together from the start of the relationship through to the present, reliving some of the most significant moments they shared.

      23. Fun times at a karaoke bar

      A great choice for couples celebrating their first Valentine’s Day together—it’s fairly informal and inexpensive, yet incredibly fun and allows for deeper bonding. Once you have a few drinks in your system and come to terms with the fact that you are making a complete fool of yourself, you’ll have the time of your life!

      24. Helicopter tour of the city followed by dinner

      A modern equivalent to the hot-air balloon ride, the helicopter tour is among the more reasonably priced date ideas and is incredibly romantic and exciting. After about half an hour or an hour of sightseeing you can finish off the upper-class experience by dining in a nice restaurant.

      25. Horseback riding

      Horseback riding is incredibly fun, especially if you’ve never done it before. And what girl doesn’t dream of a prince coming to take her on an adventure on his noble steed? It evokes a sense of nobility and is a very good bonding experience.

      26. Plan a fun date night with other couples

      Take a break and rent a cabin in the woods, go to a mountain resort, a couple’s retreat, or just organize a huge date night at someone’s place and hang out with other couples. This is a great option for couples who have spent at least one Valentine’s Day together and allows you to customize your experience to suit your needs. Also, you can always retire early and get some alone time with your partner if you so desire.

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      27. Cocktail night

      This can be done privately, or with other couples if you are organizing a group Valentine’s Day celebration at someone’s house. All you need is a bunch of different drinks, a few accessories like fruit and spices, and internet access to check out some cool recipes online. Try out all sorts of fun cocktails and mix some brand new ones on your own. Make it a fancy dress night for added fun.

      28. Make reservations at an exclusive restaurant

      A fairly old school move, except this time you can pick out a restaurant that serves a particular type of cuisine you’ve never tried before. Go for a place that has unusual menus and likes to make a show out of presenting the food, rather than just going for your regular “suits and monocles” type venue.

      29. Go to a concert

      There are a whole bunch of things happening around Valentine’s Day, so go online and check out what’s happening near you. You’ll surely be able to find tickets for a cool concert or some type of festival with live music.

      30. Fancy night on the town

      Buy some elegant new clothes, rent a limo for the night and go to a nice restaurant, followed by a jazz club or gallery exhibition. Walk tall, make a few sarcastic quips, and have a few laughs with your partner while letting your inner snob take charge for a few hours.

      31. Take a tour of the historical and cultural sites of your city

      For the cultured crowd and history buffs among us, a day spent learning about some of the local history and delving deeper into national culture is both incredibly fun and a great way to share a unique experience with a loved one. You’d be surprised to find just how much you don’t know about the place you live in.

      32. Live out a James Bond film at a casino

      A beautiful lady in a simple yet sensual, form-fitting, black dress, and a strong and handsome, if somewhat stern-looking man in a fine suit walk up to a roulette table with drinks in hand and place bets at random as they smile at each other seductively. This is a scenario most of us wish to play out, but rarely get a chance. It can be a bit costly, but this is one of the most incredibly adventurous and romantic date ideas.

      33. Go bungee jumping

      People in long-term relationships often talk about things like keeping a relationship fun and exciting, doing new things together, trusting each other and using aphrodisiacs. Well, bungee jumping is a fun, exhilarating activity you can both enjoy; it requires trust and the adrenaline rush you get from it is better than any aphrodisiac out there. Just saying, give it a shot and you won’t regret it.

      34. Take a tour of a winery or brewery

      Taking a tour like this can be a great opportunity to learn new things about wine or beer (or perhaps whiskey) and how it is made, while at the same time getting a chance to taste some excellent drinks and get a few bottles for later in the evening.

      35. Make a fun music video

      Meet up earlier in the day, take decent camera, and start shooting a music video. Rehearse the lyrics (you can even make up your own silly song), dress up, and start filming. You’ll have tons of fun doing it and you can edit the video later and have a cool memento.

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      36. Play some sports

      Some one-on-one basketball, a soccer match against another couple, a bit of tennis, or even something as simple as a table tennis tournament (make it fun by stripping off items of clothing when you lose a game). You can combine this with date idea #13 and paint team uniforms on each other and play in the nude.

      37. Visit a club with live music

      A great option for just about any couple—pick a club that has live performers (whether it’s jazz, rock or even a poetry reading) and dress up for the occasion. Be sure to make reservations in advance to avoid the Valentine’s Day rush, and focus on making your date feel comfortable.

      38. Take skydiving lessons

      Another adrenaline-filled date, skydiving is sure to get your heart racing like crazy and leave you with a goofy grin for the rest of the day. You can offset all the excitement by ending the day with a quiet dinner at home.

      39. Go for some paintball

      Playing war games is an excellent way to get your body moving, focus on some of that hand-eye-coordination, and engage your brain in coming up with tactical solutions in the heat of the moment. It is also a great bonding experience, adrenaline-fueled fun, and role-playing all wrapped into one. And when you get back home, you can always act out the wounded soldier scenario (see #18).

      40. Fill the whole day with random fun activities

      Just say no to plans, reservations and clichés—take your partner by the hand, have your credit card ready and just go out and have some fun. Bowling, followed by a drink at a coffee shop and then a romantic movie? Sure, why not? Going for lunch at a nice restaurant and then organizing a double-date game night? Go right ahead. Going for a long walk in the park, visiting a museum, followed by romantic meal at home and then going out to a club? Hey, who am I to say no? You can use some of the ideas from this article and mash them up together to create a fun-filled Valentine’s Day you’ll both remember.

      There you go, a whole bunch of useful date ideas for all you loving couples out there. You can pick out any one of these, make some adjustments or even combine different options to create the perfect Valentine’s Day date for your significant other. Plan ahead, have fun and celebrate your love proudly.

      Featured photo credit: Relevante design via unsplash.com

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