Six Ways to Learn a Language as an Adult

Most of us recognize the benefit of speaking another language, but many adults mistakenly assume that if they didn’t learn as children, or in school, that they’ve missed their opportunity.

Fortunately, today there are more options than ever to begin your journey into multilingualism.

I’ve listed some here, in no particular order.

1. Podcasts. Podcasts are great because you can save them in your phone and listen to them anytime, at your own pace. Some languages, like Spanish and French, have more regularly-produced podcasts for language learners than others. FluentU is a good place to start for a list of appropriate options for beginners.

                              Source: CoffeeBreak French

ITunes offers multiple podcasts, but Coffee Break Spanish or Coffee Break French are great, slow options. Duolingo also offers an intermediate-level podcast for Spanish learners.

It’s probably a good idea to have a preliminary language base before embarking on some podcasts, or the podcast will become just background noise instead of an educational tool.

2. Apps. Our smart phones are extensions of ourselves these days, so naturally they are an excellent
source of language learning. Some apps that have received rave reviews are Babbel and Duolingo.

It’s as easy as creating an account and you can start learning right away…for free.

                    Source: Duolingo

I’m learning Portuguese in my spare time on Duolingo, which has long been a goal of mine. The game, or app, model of learning a language has garnered some critique from serious academics, that you can’t expect a student to learn anything in just five lives, but that hasn’t stopped the devoted daily users. Just as a note, for Babbel users, that the first lesson is free and after that you pay for additional lessons.

3. Rosetta Stone. There’s a reason this language-learning
tool of infomercial fame is still around; it’s because it works. Anecdotally, a friend’s dad used it to teach himself enough Spanish to negotiate a business and real estate deal in Panama. However, a word to the wise is that Rosetta stone uses the immersion model. You are thrown into your language of choice immediately. I learned this the hard way once when I nabbed my brother’s Arabic set and had no idea what to do. My advice would be to pick something
with an alphabet that more closely resembles one you already understand.

4. Netflix. Yes, really. It might seem counterintuitive that binge watching a show could help you learn anything, but it seems like we all have that one friend who learned English (or insert language here) purely by watching TV shows and imitating their speech patterns.
Netflix (and other streaming services) provide a plethora of options in different languages. You can often swap the subtitles to read in English, or the target language. I’m a sappy telenovela fan myself.

5. Meetup Groups. Practice makes perfect, and you can read and listen to your target language all day, but if you don’t practice speaking, you can’t really take it to the next level. Almost everyone is familiar with Meetup, but not everyone knows that Meetup offers groups for language learners, too. Spanish is usually the most common, but you may find others depending on your community, or you could start your own group to practice Russian! Consistency is key.

6. Immersion. Many adults think that immersion is not an option for them, but there are immersion programs that fit
into busy lives. Take our Concordia Language Villages that we have right here in Minnesota. They offer weeklong intensive immersion programs for adults. However, that is hardly the only immersion option for working adults! You can get very creative if you are looking for a short jaunt into immersion to skyrocket your fluency.

No more excuses. Now is your chance to get out and learn Chinese. You could be fluent before you know it.

Have you found another way to learn a language? Share it
with me!

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