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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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Jane Hurst

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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