If you are a travel junkie, chances are at some point you will want to pick up a dialect different to your own.
This can often be a frustrating process, with masses of textbooks, mispronounced words, and difficulty in mimicking the accent in general, giving away your foreign status.
According to most online language learning articles, the key is to just speak from the get go. Speak as much as possible, no matter how many phrases you can or can’t make. Yes, you will embarrass yourself. But the key to learning anything worthwhile is to generally embarrass yourself.
Therefore listening and speaking are your best bets to start the language off on the right foot and to work on the accent, rather than just reading something using your native language spelling, grammar and pronunciation rules.
Here are some free resources online that can help speed up your language learning endeavour.
This free app is a great motivational resource to get you started on your language journey. Sure, sometimes it uses pictures to basically yell the answer at you, but it also gives you the chance to match words, spell things out, and construct sentences. It repeats all the foreign words to you, so make sure you try to replicate along with it. There is also an option to speak into the microphone and test your accent. It will let you know if it sounds right. Duolingo has tasks and goals to keep you on track, and sends constant reminders, like a language personal trainer. The great thing is, you feel like you are making progress on Day 1, and that encourages you to keep going.
2. Check the phonetic pronunciation using the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) if you are struggling to pronounce a word
IPA shows (or sounds out online) how a word is phonetically pronounced, rather than relying on the written version of the word. Written language can be deceiving, so hearing is such an important element of the language learning process. I have to thank Idahosa Ness for this. Which brings me to…
3. Mimic Method
Ness’ Mimic Method principle solely focuses on the auditory aspect of language learning. This polyglot uses aural mimicry and ‘flow’ to sound like a native. It is truly revolutionary stuff.
Rather than reading a whole bunch of text and using your native language to make sense of it, throw all the grammar rules out the window and just listen, then repeat. It is that simple.
This website and philosophy completely changed the way I thought about language learning. He offers different courses to purchase, but there is a whole range of free resources also available on the site. Check it out, and start speaking immediately using Ness’ Flow Theory.
Again, another great online language learning resource, with inspiration from Irish polyglot Benny Lewis and his journey through learning multiple (12+) languages. He also has resources available for purchase, in addition to a host of free articles and resources that simplify the often daunting language learning process. As he explains in this TED Talk, usually the biggest barrier to learning a language is the mindset we bring to it, and surrounding ourselves with people who will comfort us to speak in our native tongue.
5. Watch YouTube personalities in your target foreign language
I came up with this idea courtesy of Shut Up and Go. Just how native English speakers have a wide range of YouTube channels and personalities that they watch, so does every other country. Using these videos to listen and learn language helps because they tend to be less rigid and less formal in their language approach. This makes for easy application and mimicry of words and phrases that actual locals and modern people use. It can also show the humorous side of a culture, which you wouldn’t know exists in a textbook. Lastly, it can keep you up to date with current trends in that particular country.
Are there any other free resources you have found online to help with your language learning? We would love to know in the comments.