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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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      Last Updated on May 21, 2019

      How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

      How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

      For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

      If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

      Example 1

      You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

      You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

      In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

      Example 2

      You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

      People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

      You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

      Example 3

      You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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      The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

      Example 4

      You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

      Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

      If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

      Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

      • Understand your own communication style
      • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
      • Communicate with precision and care
      • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

      1. Understand Your Communication Style

      To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

      In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

      Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

      2. Learn Others Communication Styles

      Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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      If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

      “How do you prefer to receive information?”

      This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

      To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

      3. Exercise Precision and Care

      A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

      On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

      Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

      I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

      I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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      In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

      The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

      Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

      4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

      Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

      In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

      “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

      Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

      Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

      It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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      It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

      It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

      Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

      Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

      The Bottom Line

      When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

      I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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      Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

      Reference

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