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