If you're a new follower (and hello to all of you!), you may not know that I am a language student. I'm currently a 3rd year Russian & Spanish student at the University of Bath (UK), so I like to think I know a little bit when it comes to learning a language. I have been learning languages since the tender age of 6, when I started to learn French at primary school. Nearly 15 years and thousands of classes in French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish and Russian later, I think I've picked up a few tips and tricks to help you along. 

Turn your hobbies into a way to learn:
One of my favourite pastimes is sitting down with a nice cup of hot chocolate, a biscuit or two and my favourite magazine. Although you might not be able to find your beloved Company magazine in another language, many of the bigger fashion magazines are international. I myself have acquired several copies of Cosmo in both Russian and Spanish - and you'll be amazed at the vocab you can get out of them! Hilarious yet useful verbs that I've learnt in Spanish include; Skypear (to skype), (Re)Twittear (to (re)tweet), Googlear (to google), and even Glossyboxear! You can also translate songs - I can't even tell you how many words Shakira has taught me!

If you're not into reading magazines, find something you do like to do! I assume that you all like reading blogs, so find some duo language blogs (or even completely in the language you're trying to learn) and get reading! There are millions of blogs out there, so you should be able to find one or two to read. A few examples include Flirting with Fashion by the gorgeous Rebekah - which is written in both English and German, Hola Flo by the lovely Flo - which is written in English and Spanish, and Garance Dore - which is written entirely in French. 

Love a good book? Buy a duo language version of one of your favourite books to see how it translates. This really helps to learn sentence structures, tenses, and just random vocabulary. I once had to translate a passage from Harry Potter and I had to reach for the dictionary so much because of all the obscure vocab! 

Make all of your devices into your desired language:
As soon as you're fairly confident with the basics of a language, switch all of your electronic devices over to it. I say 'fairly confident' by the way, as you don't want to be switching over to a completely new language and then not being able to switch back again! Currently my iPhone, iPod, iPad (Apple 4 lyf) and back-up Nokia phone are in Spanish. By doing this, you pick up vocabulary that you just won't find in a text book. Another way to pick up new verbs/words? Change your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram into a different language. You'll be surprised at what you'll pick up.

Always have a notebook to put vocabulary in:
Whenever I'm abroad, I like to take note of as many new bits of vocabulary that I can find and write it down. As I'm currently living abroad, I always have a handy little notebook on me, but if you're on holiday you can just jot it down wherever, then write it all out when you get home. I also always have an ongoing note of new vocab on my phone that I see when I'm out and about. You can also write down slang or useful phrases that you hear, each helping to improve your language skills and widen your vocabulary.

App it up:
There are thousands, and I mean thousands, of language learning apps out there. My picks? For interactive learning, try Duolingo or Memrise, and you can't go wrong with the Word Reference app when it comes to looking up words/finding synonyms. 

Ultimately, you have to have the passion, the desire to keep improving, otherwise no amount of tips is going to help you reach any level of fluency. Over the years, I have had major surges of passion, but also major lapses, but at the end of the day, you're the only one who can do the work, so get going! 


17 comments

  1. These were some really great tips! I'm currently learning Mandarin in school and have been for the past 5 or so years, but I still don't think I would be confident enough to switch over any of my technology to it haha!

    Tasha // shiwashiful.

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    1. Haha yeah, Mandarin is a tricky one! Maybe start off putting your FB in Mandarin and go from there? x

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  2. good tips chickadee! Reading The Book Thief in Spanish atm (cue a mountain of pencil underlinings :P). So right about motivation though - I'm having a 'too hell with this' period at the moment (horrific timing!!) We should make a memrise each of new vocab and share it with each other :) double the words!!

    Grace x

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    1. Same, same, I am loosing so much motivation for Russian especially atm. Props for reading an actual book - the furthest I've got is cosmo! We should defs set up a memrise! xx

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  3. Thank you so much for these tips!

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  4. This is such an awesome post! I loved learning French, German, Japanese & Spanish at school but Spanish is the only one I'd say I've continued on with. My Japanese is so poor & I really want to get into it again. Buying magazines is a great idea. I've learned a lot of vocab from songs too xx

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    1. Yeah, I think magazines and songs are my favourite methods! Try and throw yourself in the deep end and change your FB to Japanese :) x

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  5. My facebook's in German and my phone's in French. Have read 50 Shades in French too, learnt "une cravache" = riding crop!

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  6. Haha amazing! x

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  7. It also really helps if you've been bi-lingual since you were a child. When you know two languages and can make connections, connections when learning other languages form better! I know English and Russian, but would love to learn French and much more Spanish. Duolingo is my favorite app and works so well. I agree, you have to want and keep at it, otherwise it quickly slips away! Great post!!

    Jess | The Mod Mermaid

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  8. Great tips! I've been wanting to learn Spanish for a long time. I'm going to have to try some of these! Thank you!

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  9. It really does - I've always been jealous of bilinguals! Also, like you said, it's so much easier to make connections once you know more that one language and have actually been through that process before x

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  10. I've just come across your blog from Life, Set Sail, it is lovely - I've followed! Great tips, I learnt Mandarin Chinese to A Level but I haven't taken it up again since, I really should try and pick it up again :)


    Ellie

    http://elsie-bells.blogspot.co.uk/

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