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The Top Five Tools to Help You Learn a Foreign Language

The Top Five Tools to Help You Learn a Foreign Language

Learning a language is not always the easiest thing in the world to do. Maybe you are currently in school, and you are having difficulties with a language program you are taking. Or, maybe you graduated long ago, and still remember those horrible days of language classes when you just couldn’t get a full grasp on the material. No matter what the reason for your trouble with learning a new language, there is no reason to despair.

It is actually quite easy to pick up a new language, as long as you are using the right tools. Here are our top five picks for tools that will help you to learn a foreign language.

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1. Podcasts

If you have ever tried to learn a language and you have used recorded lessons, you know just how difficult it can be to really learn that language. The recordings are rarely natural-sounding, and they can be difficult for beginners to understand. A great alternative is to listen to podcasts. These learning tools are fully accessible, and you can easily listen to a podcast while you are on your way to work. Look for podcasts that are directed towards language learners. Coffee Break Spanish and Talk to Me in Korean are popular podcasts that will help you to learn these languages.

2. Text to Speech

Sometimes, you need to have visual and audio cues to help you learn a foreign language. Text to speech software gives you just that. It lets you have written text, and hear it being read aloud. Panopreter has created this easy to use software for Windows users, and it uses natural voices so it doesn’t sound like a monotone robot. It will convert text to mp3 and wav audio files, so you can listen to the files at any time. Tools include toolbars for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office Word, word highlighting, keyboard shortcut keys, and more.

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3. Song Lyrics

One of the best ways to learn anything is to put it to music, and this includes languages. Find music you enjoy listening to, and really listen to the words and try to repeat them. You can easily find songs with lyrics on YouTube, so you can read and say the lyrics while you are listening to the music. You can also find lyric study guides that have been created by teachers, which will help you to advance your language learning. The really good songs will stick in your head, and you will remember them. If necessary, get yourself a language guide so you can learn what the words mean.

4. Learner Community Websites

There are loads of great sites that you can use as study resources, and they offer lessons in a number of foreign languages. These sites include Busuu, My Language Exchange, Italki, and RosettaStone, and they offer great learning resources. You can connect with people who speak the language you wish to learn, and there are community spaces for chatting, where you can even correct writing and speaking, and have yours corrected. Learning a language through natural conversation is one of the best, and easiest ways to really learn the nuances of that language.

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5. Online Newspapers

If you really want to dive right into learning a foreign language, start reading foreign language newspapers. You can find newspapers online from all over the world, and in every language imaginable. Start out by reading shorter advertisements and photo cut lines (captions), and then move up to the longer articles as your language reading skills improve. As you advance, keep moving on to more difficult articles, and editorials which often contain local slang.

Featured photo credit: Foundry via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

The ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way by which we grow. But we are often afraid to take that first step.

In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. Break the chains of fear to get outside. Once you do, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.

Here are 10 ways to help you step out of your comfort zone and get closer to success:

1. Become aware of what’s outside of your comfort zone

What are the things that you believe are worth doing but are afraid of doing yourself because of the potential for disappointment or failure?

Draw a circle and write those things down outside the circle. This process will not only allow you to clearly identify your discomforts, but your comforts. Write identified comforts inside the circle.

2. Become clear about what you are aiming to overcome

Take the list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear.

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How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific.

Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your looks?

Or, are you afraid of being ignored?

3. Get comfortable with discomfort

One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to literally expand it. Make it a goal to avoid running away from discomfort.

Let’s stay with the theme of meeting people in social settings. If you start feeling a little panicked when talking to someone you’ve just met, try to stay with it a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort. If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to become less uncomfortable.

4. See failure as a teacher

Many of us are so afraid of failure that we would rather do nothing than take a shot at our dreams.

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Begin to treat failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?

Many highly successful people failed plenty of times before they succeeded. Here’re some examples:

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

5. Take baby steps

Don’t try to jump outside your comfort zone, you will likely become overwhelmed and jump right back in.

Take small steps toward the fear you are trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak to small groups of people. You can even practice with family and friends.

Take a look at this article on how you can start taking baby steps:

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The Number One Secret to Life Success: Baby Steps

6. Hang out with risk takers

There is no substitute for this step. If you want to become better at something, you must start hanging out with the people who are doing what you want to do and start emulating them. (Here’re 8 Reasons Why Risk Takers Are More Likely To Be Successful).

Almost inevitably, their influence will start have an effect on your behavior.

7. Be honest with yourself when you are trying to make excuses

Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.” Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.”

Don’t make excuses, just be honest. You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.

8. Identify how stepping out will benefit you

What will the ability to engage in public speaking do for your personal and professional growth? Keep these potential benefits in mind as motivations to push through fear.

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9. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Risk taking will inevitably involve failure and setbacks that will sometimes make you look foolish to others. Be happy to roll with the punches when others poke fun.

If you aren’t convinced yet, check out these 6 Reasons Not to Take Life So Seriously.

10. Focus on the fun

Enjoy the process of stepping outside your safe boundaries. Enjoy the fun of discovering things about yourself that you may not have been aware of previously.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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