The value of learning a new language is clear. Not only does it allow you to communicate with more people, it’s a great workout for your mind. Actually putting it into practice and getting started is tough. What are some ways to start learning a new language?

Take a Class

Many are familiar with one of the most popular ways to learn a new language — taking a class. Most good language teachers have found better ways of teaching linguistic skills. Long gone are the days of repeating common phrases in the hope that something will stick. Many teachers now embrace hands-on learning and conversation to develop language skills. This may mean having controlled discussions to learn context, pronunciation, and grammar in a natural setting. Other classes may integrate technology into the classroom or use tangible examples of cultural learning to give context to what you’re learning.

Many teachers now embrace hands-on learning and conversation to develop language skills.

There’s one barrier to this learning method; it’s unlikely you’ll find any free in-classroom lessons that are worthwhile.

The benefits of paying for a course, on the other hand, can make all the difference. If you’re taking an in-person class, you’ll be on a schedule, which is shown to be more effective than a simple to-do list. You’ll also be held accountable and more likely to attend. The other advantage of an in-person class is the direct and personal feedback you’ll receive while learning. Of the other options we’ve considered, none can match a teacher who can correct you in real time or converse with you directly.

If you’re interested in a class, you have plenty of options available to you. Some community colleges and universities offer classes, and some cities or metro areas have clubs that can connect you to classes. It may also be worth checking with your local library. Depending on interest, some host informal lessons where you can gather with like-minded individuals.

Finally, you can search for a personal tutor. These may be more expensive than a traditional class but are more personalized to your needs. You can connect with a tutor on Craigslist.com (always verify credentials first) or with the options mentioned above.

Embrace the Power of the Internet

One of the downsides of an in-person language class is finding one. Due to the rise of the internet, classic foreign language courses are becoming harder to find. Instead, online classes with private tutoring have become the norm for many.

Larger, guided language courses tend to be video modules that you can buy. These modules are created by native speakers and professional language teachers. Most online courses cost money, but allow you to learn at your own pace, on your own time.

You can find online courses and tutoring or free lessons on websites like YouTube.

Similarly, you can find free alternatives to these lessons on websites like YouTube. Channels like Fluenz or Get Germanized have bite-sized lessons, while others take a more academic approach. Finding a video is as simple as a quick search of the site. The quality and style of these videos differ, so it’s worth searching a bit to find one you like best.

Want to take your language lessons on the go? Try out a language podcast! Most podcasts are free and offer hours of content for you to sift through on your linguistic journey. Generally, podcasts focus on a specific language, so choose the language you want to learn and search “[your language] podcasts.” You’ll quickly find several podcasts that you’ll love.

Use an App

Finally, if you have a smartphone or tablet, you have an extra option for language learning — you can download an app. Unlike videos or podcasts, language apps have a greater degree of interactivity. Most use games and immersion learning to introduce and familiarize you with the language and have fun doing it. Three of the top apps are Rosetta Stone (along with its popular software), Duolingo, and subscription-based Babbel. If you’re learning the language with a young family member (which is a great idea!), an app that’s geared toward children like Mindsnacks may be right up their alley.

Three of the top language apps are Rosetta Stone (along with its popular software), Duolingo, and subscription-based Babbel.

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There’s no single correct way to learn a language. For some, repetition and learning conjugation tables is extremely helpful. Others like hands-on learning and interactive conversation. You may enjoy meeting with a group or by playing a game. What’s important is to not give up if you’re not fluent right away. Keep trying until you find the method that works best for you, and don’t forget to have fun! Ciao!

Further Reading

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