Learning Languages from Home Q&A: Tips and Advice from the Experts

Learning Languages from Home Q&A: Tips and Advice from the Experts
Benefits Bilingual Education

Learning Languages from Home Q&A: Tips and Advice from the Experts

This article was originally published on Porch on August 18, 2021 by Tamara Segal

Learning Languages from Home Q&A: Tips and Advice from the Experts

Learning a new language enhances your life in numerous ways while providing you with a marketable skill. As you learn a new language, you’ll develop new communication skills, keep your brain agile, and even discover new writers and artists to read and enjoy as you encounter them in your studies.

By learning a language at home, you can adopt an instruction schedule that suits your time frame — and you can fit in practice when it’s most convenient for you. In this article, we gathered experts in language learning to give you the best insights to encourage yourself and others to learn languages from home.

  • What’s the importance of learning a new language?

There are only benefits to learning a new language.

Firstly, the positive effect on the brain has been well documented – improving memory, helping to keep dementia at bay, improving problem-solving skills, and making the learner more creative.

In an increasingly globalized world, companies with a global presence look for people who can meet the demands of their clients across the world. To put it simply, being multilingual makes you more employable.

Lastly, we cannot forget that learning a new language is much more than learning vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. It is learning about the people who speak the language – their traditions, gastronomy, ways of socializing and interacting, literature, art, music, history, cinema, politics… It helps us connect with other people, come out of our comfort zone and make the most of our travels, better understand other cultures, embrace new habits, and, ultimately, be more tolerant. It broadens our world and changes us for the better.

Pilar Montaner | Instituto Cervantes Dublin

  • What are the benefits of Learning Languages from Home?

In the past, when many of us started learning a language, studying from home was hard. There were no videos, language learning apps, or dictionary apps. Now, the situation has totally changed. Many language learning resources exist online—not to mention reading materials on any topic—for all but especially rare languages. Further, services exist for you to connect to human language tutors anywhere in the world for individual instruction. When you compare the convenience of language learning today to the struggle of finding resources in the past, you realize there’s no excuse not to put in a little bit of time to expand your horizons with language study. Learning a language from home opens up incredible opportunities as you bundle your other professional proficiencies with a foreign language.

Darren T. Jansen | Ivannovation

  • How to Make the Most of Language Learning at Home?

I’d say the most important thing to have when learning languages at home is the right state of mind. Focusing only on the end goal of becoming fluent can feel insurmountable, and it makes most people give up after a few weeks. It’s all about taking constant baby steps. The essential part is to be consistent, stick to a routine you can sustain in the long run, and never give up. If you learn just a tiny bit every day and never give up, it will quickly add up. Learning a language is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not about becoming fluent, it’s about discovery and learning new things, and fluency will come in due time.

Tonny Pelletier |OUINO Languages Co-Founder

  • How can I learn a language at home effectively?

There are many reasons for learning a foreign language. Knowing another language helps you understand other cultures better and integrate into another community. It keeps your brain working differently, which makes it a good way to help combat Alzheimer’s disease. On a social level, it helps you communicate with people and make new friends.

If you want to learn a foreign language and prefer to study at home, there are many online tools that can help you.

The one that I think works best is getting an online tutor. The best online tutor is a real person with who you arrange to work. You can study as intensively as your time and budget allow you. Most of our clients at Languages United study one or two hours per week with our teachers and also put some extra independent study when they practice at home, do their research, and complete their home tasks.

Students can always put together some questions and observations in between lessons and ask the teacher via a learning platform or a learning application. Students are always so happy and grateful for their support as this speeds the learning process, helps with pronunciation, and deciphers some idiomatic expressions that could be difficult to master without a tutor.
Online learning has made the world so much more accessible and affordable as you don’t need to spend money on travel, and when you travel, you feel so much more supported as you have some pre-knowledge about the language and the culture.

Slavenka | Languages United UK

  • What’s the best setup for a language learning session at home?

An effective setup is to try and explain something in the target language. For beginners, it could be simple stickers with nouns placed through your living space. For intermediate learners, try to give (simple) instructions on finding something or how to do it. To learn a language, you need to put in the effort.

Ivan | Worddio

  •  What are the biggest challenges of Learning Languages from Home?

Learning a new language from home can be tough, but it’s definitely doable! Students trying to learn a language at home often lack the motivation to stick with a consistent study routine and may find studying boring and ineffective due to a lack of interaction with teachers and classmates. Luckily, these challenges can be overcome with the help of online language classes. Finding a teacher to engage with online, either one-on-one or with a group of other learners, can provide students with the motivation to reach their goals while making language learning much more interesting and productive.

Anne Meredith | Program Manager at The Chinese Language Institute

  • What should I have at home to study and learn a new language?
  1. A device
  2. An internet connection
  3. Motivation

If you have those three things, you are set. The key then becomes finding the time and finding tools or resources that you find fun, stimulating, and worthwhile. I always try and get a good mix of Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking, and there are countless FREE resources available to work on all of those. If you’re starting from zero, use something like language learning apps to build your vocabulary, use videos or podcasts to learn how to pronounce your language, and get as much authentic input as you can. Read it out loud. Reach out to native speakers wanting to learn your language on language exchange platforms. I’d recommend a tutor using learning apps as well….not to give you a strict and ordered curriculum, but to talk with and answer questions. The grammar will come. If you have questions, ask one of your native friends, or look for it. But you gotta want it. You have way more time in your day than you think you do, tucked away in hidden pockets of 5 or 10-minute chunks here and there. It’s easier than you may realize. You’ll be understanding and speaking faster than you ever thought possible.

Carter Durham | Joy School English Blog

  • How can listen to music help you learning a new language?

Music can really be a double-edged sword when it comes to learning foreign languages. Let me start with the positives first before I discuss a few things to be careful of.

Here are a few positive reasons to use music in language learning;

1. Input is what creates language skills ultimately. The more, the better. Sometimes when we stick to textbooks and vocabulary apps, we don’t get too much actual input.

2. Songs and music can be great to learn pronunciation with, as the melody helps to understand the rhythm of the language itself (we’ll touch on this point a little bit later.)

3. It’s fun! Not only is listening to music an enjoyable experience in it itself but playing detective and figuring out what a foreign song actually means word by word is a gratifying process.

4. You can do it from anywhere. Just put on a headset, and you can be listening anytime, anywhere. More or less.

With that said, there are few things to keep in mind when using music to learn languages.

Beware of dialects, tones, and slang! Some tonal languages don’t reproduce the words the same way in song as in conversational language. Plus, songs often contain extremely specialized vocabulary (to fit the rhymes, etc.) that you might never need or encounter in ‘the wild.’ Also, beware of language differences in different countries (Spain/Mexico, Portugal/Brazil, France/Quebec, etc.!)

Listening to music is a great addition, not a replacement for other language activities. Be sure to still work with other resources and teachers in conjunction, so you keep improving your skills. Just listening to music alone won’t get you far.

But, if you pay active attention to music with those limitations in mind, you will reap massive rewards and enjoyment.

Lass Jetzt Los! (Let it go!)

Kris Broholm | Actual Fluency

  • What are the best tips you can give to learn a second language? 

Anyone can follow the IPEC steps to learn a second language:

1, When you initiate to learn a second language, it should be most closely related to you.

2, Build an executable and enjoyable learning plan before the start, deep know the characteristics of the new language, plan the cost and time, clarify the stage goal, and so on.

3, Execute the 80/20 rule, spend most of the effort solving 90% of everyday communication, not only understand these pieces of knowledge but use them skillfully.

4, Check the deliverables at every stage of learning, and adjust the learning plan, but always rekindle your passion for each little goal.

Jacob | Cchatty 

  • Why learn foreign languages?

There are several reasons why learning a foreign language is important:

1. Career opportunities:

People who speak one or more foreign languages are more likely to be promoted or relocated to another country. The latter may in itself boost their professional development and their likelihood of future promotion. Furthermore, although English is the world’s main business language, individuals in some countries such as France, Spain, Brazil, etc., are more likely to do business with and trust someone who speaks their language than someone who only speaks English.

2. Traveling:

Speaking the local language allows you to move with more freedom in a country, know the local culture, and participate in activities other tourists won’t join.

3. Films and music:

Being able to watch films in the original version is very interesting. Not only does it help improve your language skills, but it also helps you understand the country’s culture better.

By Inigo Lopez | CEO BiCortex Languages and BiCortex Translations

  • How can you practice pronunciation when learning from home?

Practicing pronunciation from home is an interesting one. Because I’m learning the Chinese language (Mandarin) and because in Chinese, the pronunciation is so important and so alien to my mother tongue, it’s super essential to do it right. And difficult.

Let me give you an example. Here’s an example of three words that are very different but very similar in pronunciation:

美食
没事
美式

They’re pronuncouded as ‘měishí’, ‘méishì’, and ‘měishì’. Do you see the tones? These may sound very similar to our foreign ears, but they are totally different from Chinese ears, so they’re essential to nail. One way to practice is to exaggerate the differences. And my point is: this is much easier to do at home. When I’m outside in a coffee store ordering Americano (美式měishì), I am not looking at the Pinyin-spelling on my phone, and I might pronounce it wrong. But I’ll note down these words I find difficult, or I’ll write down the words which when I pronounce them, Chinese people don’t understand what I mean. Then after work at home, I’ll go over them, saying them out repetitively in the correct pronunciation. This has been an invaluable method for learning the Chinese language for me.

Two more ways I can practice pronunciation at home. I learn Chinese at GoEast Mandarin, and sometimes I go for classes on their campus, but sometimes the teacher and I opt for online lessons. From home! A third is finding spoken materials on videos or podcasts. Then I’ll watch a video once to know what they’re talking about, and the second or third time, I try to ‘shadow’ the persons in the video, trying to talk simultaneously with them when the video plays.

The notes on the words I find hard to pronounce are the most important because they’re weaknesses in my speaking that I don’t want to let turn into bad habits. But shadowing online videos made me add more words into my rotation and also improve their pronunciation. And of course, an online Chinese class with GoEast teaches me grammar and new vocabulary too.

I try to learn at least a bit of the Chinese language every day. Sometimes I’m ‘in-thin-the-zoneI can study for a whole hour or more, but even five minutes will make me feel good about myself and my consistency too.

Jaap Grolleman | GoEast Mandarin 

  • Do I need to practice pronunciation with someone else?

Suppose you are lucky enough to be able to exchange conversations with natives from other countries, congratulations! It’s an excellent way to practice pronunciation. If not, nothing happens. Not everyone is lucky enough to have someone close to them whose mother tongue is the language they are learning. In any case, practice is essential, and although it may seem difficult, it is a vital step for learning. Speaking and checking if the pronunciation is correct through language lessons either individually or in language schools, online classes stay abroad, etc.

Team from Lewolang

  • Is it better to learn on my own or get help from a teacher?

Discovering how you learn best is one of the biggest advantages of education and one of the main reasons schools exist. Society as a whole can benefit from a group of individuals who can learn effectively by themselves. There is a distinct sense of enjoyment in working out by yourself and knowing that you could get there via your own thought processes and strategies. But not everyone can do this, and certainly not every student.

Where educators can help is in helping students tee the path towards effective learning more clearly. This can involve demonstrating how to reach the answer to a problem, lending support and encouragement at critical moments, and asking the right questions at the right point to facilitate a student’s understanding. Educators (you would hope) have been there before – they know what it means to go from not understanding a problem or area to grasping it. And this experience is what makes teachers and tutors so valuable in assisting learning. No educator should provide the answers upon request – that’s Google’s job. Good teachers and tutors develop their students’ cognitive skills and learning abilities by prompting them and pointing them in the right direction, not by doing their work.

Someone will rarely need help from an educator at every step of their learning. And no student should ask for help every time they’re stuck. Otherwise, their independence and ability to think for themselves will never develop. But there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to tackle a problem repeatedly using the same method – and this is where an educator can step in.

It is always best to attempt to learn on your own. And most of the time, you’ll get far with this approach. For some, they’ll never need to ‘get help from a teacher. That’s just the way it goes. But never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help because it’s not a sign of weakness or a lack of intelligence. It’s a sign that you’re courageous enough and wise enough to know what you don’t know. Every good business person will tell you that the best leaders are those who know enough to know what they don’t know. And when they don’t know something, they ask for help.

Ludo Millar | Qualified Tutor 

  • What are the benefits and differences of learning a language in groups or individually, and which one should I pick?

Learning a language independently can feel like a huge leap, especially when most of us are only exposed to language learning through school, classrooms, tests, and long vocab lists to learn by next Monday! However, it can be gratifying and even quicker than learning in a group because of the simple fact that you’re the one choosing what you learn. So, as long as you’re confident with your self-study skills, taking control of the process yourself is a great option. When I work with independent language learners, we spend lots of time building up that confidence with the process, so you know you’re headed in the right direction – your planning, confidence, and how the language fits into your life all play a role. But remember, learning a language solo doesn’t mean learning alone, and language doesn’t exist without people. So at some point along the way, you’ll likely need to connect with tutors, language exchange partners, and meet-up groups to help get that real-time exposure and practice in.

On the other hand, if it’s the being in charge, but that’s scaring you off from learning a language, then groups become a better option. If you don’t know where to begin when it comes to taking charge, or if you have no idea what to teach yourself, then leave that up to a group teacher so you can focus more energy and effort on actually learning. Plus, you benefit from working with other learners, who can be a great source of inspiration and practice. I always recommend connecting with other language learners – even if they’re learning a different language – as it’s such a great motivator to know you’re not alone!

Lindsay Williams Language Consultant | Lindsay Does Languages

  • How many hours a week should someone dedicate to studying a language at home?

Most people don’t realize that if you want to really learn a new language fluently, you need to spend enough time practicing the language. People today look for shortcuts and download apps that promise them they will speak the language soon if you spend just 5 or 10 minutes a day using the app, but that can never be enough. I recommend starting with 20 minutes a day to create a habit and raise it to 1 hour a day. In my experience, if you learn your language using effective methods for 6-7 hours a week, you’ll see visible progress within just a couple of weeks, and you can learn the language to a fluent level within 2 years. One hour may sound like a lot, but if you divide it into 2 or 3 shorter slots, everyone can fit it in their daily schedule, no matter how busy they are. It’s all about priorities.

Lýdia Machová | Language Mentoring

  • How can a kid from different language speaker parents can easily become bilingual?

I am a German mother and an Italian father, and I can tell my personal experience.

I remember that my mother, from an early age, spoke to my sisters and me in a different language from the one spoken in our city, but it was natural for us to address her with those different words and immediately afterward change the sound of our words to communicate with other people; my father always spoke to us in Italian, and we grew up by automatically distinguishing the different situations.

We spent most of our time with our mother, and with her, we played, sang, and always listened to her vocabulary. She read us books that were incomprehensible to our friends. When we visited grandparents, uncles, and cousins, we immersed ourselves in that reality totally at ease.

We spent all our free time with dad and together with mum we all communicated in the other language, we used to go to cinemas, zoos, pastry shops, and parks, read stories and watched cartoons. We used to visit also the other grandparents and aunts and cousins, and we were happy and at ease there.

We learned two languages at the same time without realizing it.

It was easy. As an adult, I reverted to science with curiosity to explain that simplicity in learning, that overtime is no longer so obvious. I have read that the effortlessness of bilingualism in young children depends on the fact once we learn a second language, two regions of the cortex are activated, each of which will load one or the other language. I can say that I am absolutely convinced that my parents’ method works, and I can also say that I have known many families like mine who have faced this great opportunity with a similar approach and allow their kids to learn more than one language in a spontaneous way.

Yasmin Fariello Peer  | Easylore.com

  • What are the best tips to learn a second language?

Consistency is key. A little study every day is best to keep the language fresh in your mind.

Use the new language whenever you can – for example, write your shopping list in the target language, send a text or email to a native speaker, a friend, colleague, or relative. Using the language you have learned within your daily life will help you retain it for longer.

Listen to the language regularly; this is the best way to improve your pronunciation and speaking skills. This could be with podcasts, music, the radio, or TV programs and films.

Start by learning the most common 100 words used in the language. It is amazing how well you can communicate with very few words if you learn the right ones!

Fiona | Viva Languages Services

  • How can someone maximize their study time when learning a new language? 

The flexibility and convenience offered by online learning is a powerful tool for maximizing your study time when learning a new language: you are no longer required to fit your schedule around fixed class times, but instead, you can make use of your free slots and use them for studying. You can choose the time when you are most productive, this being the morning before starting the day, the evening before going to bed, or the weekend.

Another important factor is to ensure that the learning process is aimed at action-oriented outcomes. No one learns grammar for the sake of it. As with everything else you learn, learning a language should be all about enabling you to do something, to act with the target language.

Having a concrete goal for each study phase makes learning concrete and makes you feel you have achieved a measurable result. This is also an important motivational factor: knowing that by the end of your class, you will be able to perform a certain action (e.g., check into a hotel, make a complaint or go shopping for groceries in the target language) or handle a certain topic in a conversation (e.g., talk about cultural differences in the target language) will keep your motivation strong and will make the relevance of your learning process clear to you every step of the way.

Javier Santana | Head of Digital Education at Lingoda

  • How can I study grammar at home?

The best way to learn grammar is to make it funny and memorable so that the language sticks in your mind. Sing grammatically correct sentences to your favorite tunes, emphasizing the bits of grammar you want to learn. When writing, use different colors to highlight any patterns that you notice. Or paint pictures in your mind: silly sentences such as ‘the elephant eat green ice cream,’ ‘two elephants eat purple marshmallows’ are much easier to remember than ‘he eats, they eat’ and the silly sentences help you to recall the correct verb structure when you need it.

Priscilla Hannaford | Managing Director at Brilliant Publications

How can I improve my listening skills at home?

Frankly, among all skills involved in foreign language acquisition, listening is certainly one of the easiest to practice from home. That said, it does not mean listening is easy. Improving listening skills requires mainly practice, then practice again.  At least, listening does not require money investment since there are countless free resources on the internet.

Practicing listening in any language requires just three simple gestures:

  • Think twice before jumping into a new series, movie, or TV show

There is a tremendous amount of foreign series that you can watch, good Spanish, French, Japanese, and even Tamil series in their original versions. Give them a chance, there is nothing like enjoying a series whilst practicing your listening.

  • Change the configuration of your apps and google home now

From your guiding apps to any app on your phone, which includes voice: turn it into the foreign language you are learning. Isn’t it cool to drive while a charming voice guides you in Japanese?  Isn’t it funny to ask your digital assistant to give you a reply in French or Spanish?

  • Learn “in the foreign language” not just “the foreign language”.

Are you supposed to acquire some new skills at work? Next time you choose a tutorial or a course on any course platform: do it in a foreign language! Even if your ambition is to learn the ropes of knitting, choose knitting tutorials in the language you want to learn.

Just acquiring these three small habits, you will be amazed how much you improve your listening skills… without spending an extra penny by the way.

Important final recommendation:

Listening can become an exhausting and frustrating exercise if you aim at understanding every word. Understanding the context and the situation is often enough to improve your listening. If you feel stressed with series or films, it’s ok to put the subtitles on!

Frederic Parrilla Garreau | CLIC International House

  • What’s the quickest way to learn new words?

Vocabulary should not be introduced and learned in isolation but always in context, e.g., with the content of a textbook lesson. Vocabulary should be repeated and reinforced with the help of monolingual (synonyms) vocabulary lists or flashcards. It can then be consolidated with the help of various games and methods that involve all the senses as much as possible.

Alexander Ullman | Dialoge – Bodensee Sprachschule

  • How can TV Shows and Movies help me in my learning process?

The kind of language spoken in TV shows and movies (unless for the period or fantasy genre) is often a good litmus test of what the language you’re trying to learn should be; they generally contain most of the frequently used words, an abundance of idioms and expressions that native speakers actually say in their real lives, whilst the storyline gives the perfect context to what’s being said as well. When watching the show or movie in your target language, make sure to put the subtitles in that language (not your mother language) to catch things that you might otherwise miss by just listening.

Bingo | Head Master of Duke Language School

  • What advice can you give to new language learners?

My recommendation for those who want to learn a language is to dedicate time to it. Not only at the class, but also at home, several hours a week. You will not see significant progress if you don’t spend time with the new language. Today there are many complimentary resources to favor learning (audios, videos, series, podcasts, etc.) and the possibility of speaking with a native speaker (currently it is possible to do this virtually, with a teacher, or a friend, without the need to travel to another country). In addition, the student must understand that a language is a tool for communication, not just a system of grammar rules and vocabulary. That is why it is necessary not to fear the error but to use it as a tool to keep improving.

Gabriel Aragona | Academic Director for Buenos Aires in Expanish

  • What makes a successful language learner?

Firstly, they understand what language is. It is actually elementary. It only has three key ingredients: words, rules, and sounds. That’s it. Or, put another way, it has vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.

Secondly, they focus on high-frequency words. Not all words are used with the same frequency; some words we use a lot and some we hardly ever use, so make sure you focus your attention on the words we use all the time. These are called ‘high-frequency words, and you can find word lists on the internet.

Thirdly, they focus on the most commonly used grammar – you don’t need a lot of it because it is so rarely used. For example, in English, you can learn three verb tenses – the present simple, past simple, and present perfect – and this will cover more than 75% of verb use. In other words, we hardly ever use the other verb tenses.

Finally, successful language learners focus on the sounds that are NOT in their native language. English, for instance, has 188 sounds in total, but many of these will be in your first language, so you don’t have to use learn them; it would be a waste of time. Instead, focus on the unfamiliar sounds.

To learn English successfully, you need to set a realistic study time per week and stick to it. It’s unlikely that you will be able to study for 1 hour per day, every day. It’s much better if you set 15-20 minutes every day and stick to that. E2 English has live classes and tutorials, which are great, but also lots of self-study where you can refine your vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar.

Jarrad Merlo Producer and Manager | E2 Digital Media.

  • How to Achieve Your Language Learning Objectives?

To achieve your language learning objectives, you need to consistently practice speaking with competent speakers. Daily speaking practice will help you overcome the fear of speaking a new language. It also provides you with opportunities to fix mistakes as you speak with and listen to native speakers.

Jaime Makin | Teacher Community Manager at Hallo Inc.

  • How does understanding culture help me better learn a language?

If you really want to learn a new language, you also need to understand the culture fully.  In fact, it is almost impossible to separate learning culture from language, and any good language program should include an introduction to the relevant cultural norms. The Sapir–Whorf hypothesis states that the structure of a language affects its speakers’ worldview or cognition. According to this theory, learning a new language will change the way you think. Certain words and expressions, particularly idiomatic expressions (for example, “it’s a piece of cake” in English), cannot be translated directly. The concepts idioms express may not even exist in another language, so understanding the underlying culture is requisite to using them correctly.

Garrett Strommen | Strommen Inc.

  • Which are the best tips you can give to learn Spanish from home?

Are you planning on learning Spanish from home? Here’s a couple of tips for you:

First, it is effortless to be distracted and get caught up in other things while spending time at home, so you have to stay focused on your studies. You have to form a studying habit, carving out time each day to study the language. Otherwise, you will not be able to make sustainable progress.

The best way to learn is to immerse yourself in the language. That’s obviously easier when you are studying in a Spanish-speaking country. However, there are other ways to have some daily exposure to the language. Take advantage of all the resources you find on the web: you can watch Spanish TV series, listen to Spanish radio and music, read in Spanish and write in Spanish. With commitment and dedication, you will see that you will improve day by day!

Learning Spanish online can be a very valid option for those who want to take advantage of this modality’s benefits, such as a flexible timetable or reduced costs.

Laura Palliati | AIL Madrid Spanish Language School

  • What are the best tips you can give to parents of home language learners?

Research shows that a strong mother tongue supports foreign language learning, so you can actually help your child learn another language by reading, singing, playing, and talking with them in their mother tongue, especially if they are very young. You can also help them experience the foreign language by listening to audiobooks together, singing songs, or letting them teach you something in the new language – they’ll love that! With older children, you could, for example, read a story or a book together in a foreign language and discuss it. You don’t need to teach the language to your child – the important thing is to show them that you are interested in and supportive of their language learning.

Ms. Saga Arola | Head of Pedagogy at Moomin Language School

  • How do I prepare for a language assessment test when learning from home?

Preparing for a language assessment test isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to be complicated! There are plenty of resources available to keep learners engaged while studying from home. Teach Away works with ESL instructors around the world every day. Below we’ll share our favorite tips on how to learners can prep for an upcoming test.

  1. Always use the course materials/test-specific textbook.

Language assessment tests are very straightforward in their content. What is in the course content will appear on the test! That means that questions tend to be more repetitive, so attention to detail is critical. These types of assessments are not intended to be tricky, but the saying “practice makes perfect” couldn’t be more accurate. Be sure to review the course materials in-depth, as this will be the perfect way to outline what you need to study.

  1. Find time to practice

Now that you have a clear idea of what will be on the assessment, it is time to practice! Finding the time in your day to optimize your studying schedule is crucial. Use the free time in your day to focus on your areas of weakness. For example, download a free language app to test yourself on your morning commute or practice grammar while waiting for the laundry. Keep in mind each app will have a different learning style, so try them all to find what works best for you!

  1. Watch more movies (without subtitles)

Yes, that is correct. Watch more movies! Actor/Actresses tend to exaggerate words, making them more memorable to the learner when recalling vocabulary or phrases. This method can help learners memorize languages but also can identify new vocabulary. So be sure to keep a journal close by so you can write down words to search up after the show.

¿Want more? Check out some ESL resources teachers use in the classroom

Jessie Scrymgeour | TEFL Course Advisor at Teach Away

  • How can studying abroad help you accomplish your language learning goals? 

Studying abroad, especially in the country where the language you are learning is the native language, opens up so many great educational opportunities.

You are able to connect to the language on a whole new level by interacting with native people and experiencing the native culture too. Learning Spanish in Spain is a fantastic way to test your skills every day and learn things you never knew that you needed to. You can improve your listening and readjust by taking in your surroundings at a café, shopping at a supermarket, or walking around the city! You can practice your conversation skills with locals and even sign up for a Spanish course in the city to work on your grammar and piece all the incoming information together.

Overall, language learning abroad gives you a comprehensive academic experience and can help you to build greater passion, determination, focus, and success when accomplishing your language learning goals.

Isabel Torrecillas | Co-Founder/CEO  at EUROACE, SL.

  • What’s the learning language’s role in Cross-Cultural Communication and what’s the importance of it?

Language is much more than rules governing syntax, phonology, and orthography. It is one of the most important tools humans have to communicate ideas, concepts, and actions.  Because language is used by groups with shared cultures and experiences, language also embodies world views, attitudes, and perspectives based on these shared cultural experiences.  Shared history also makes up a significant part of a group’s culture as older generations share their personal narratives of their experiences and perspectives through language to younger generations.  These narratives then intermix with new shared experiences and perspectives. For this reason, language is both relative and dynamic, changing with time and space, depending on regional socio-economic cultural, and environmental influences.  When one learns a new language from another culture, to better understand how the language is used to communicate, it helps to gain an understanding of the norms of that culture and what shared experiences helped to create those norms.

We can see how the environment can influence a language and culture by looking at the language of both the Inuit and the Sami people.  The Inuit and the Sami are two diverse groups with distinct language structures; however, both evolved to survive the harsh environment in different regions of the Arctic.  Interestingly, because of their environment, both groups’ languages evolved to have many distinct words for snow and ice, each word efficiently communicating a specific type and/or condition of the respective types of snow and ice.  In English, on the other hand, our terminology for snow and ice is very limited because English developed in a region where snow and ice were less impactful on survival. Another example is how collectivist cultures differ from individualistic cultures in expressing similar meanings yet with an emphasis on different actors.  A great example of this is comparing a common expression in English versus Spanish for “liking” something.  In English, one may make a statement such as, “I like the car.”  The subject “I” in this statement is emphasized as the actor or the doer of the ‘liking.”  However, in Spanish, one would say, “me gusta el carro,” or “the car is pleasing to me.”  The subject in this expression is the car; and, as such, the car is the actor that has a direct impact on the indirect object, “me.” The person in the Spanish statement is thus the receiver, not the actor whereas, in the English statement, the individual is emphasized as the actor.

Therefore, to truly learn a language, strive to also gain an understanding of the cultural contexts and connections the language embodies by the people who speak it. Learn about the history of the people who speak the language and explore how that history has shaped the language and the relationships of those in the communities who speak it.  Find opportunities to communicate with different people who speak the language and ask relevant questions about their personal experiences and perspectives. Naturally, you will find world views and perspectives that will be different from yours.  Be open to and respect the fact that you may not always understand or even agree with the other cultural perspectives.  Understanding and accepting different perspectives is part of cross-cultural communication through language learning.   Nevertheless, ground yourself in the areas where you do share similar experiences and can relate to each other through our common humanity while being open to discovering new ways to see the world.  This understanding of language and its interconnection with culture can anchor your relationships with those who speak the language and enhance your cross-cultural communication using your new language skills.

Angela Pack Zia | Think Bilingual Austin

As you can see, our language learning experts are very enthusiastic about the idea of learning languages from home; thank you all for your amazing tips and advice about this topic. And we are sure that before you know it, you’ll be fluent in the language of your choosing, and who knows where you could go from there?