In preparation for my upcoming move to Sweden next year, I’ve been increasing the amount of time I’m spending on learning Swedish. I’ve been with my Swedish partner for nearly three years, and whilst I can have basic conversations with him, it’s now my goal to become more proficient and fluent in the language before I call Sweden my home.
I’ve put in lots of time using apps like Duolingo, and while they can help with learning basic vocabulary and grasping the basics of small talk, they just don’t work for me when it comes to making real progress in becoming fluent in Swedish.
For me, I’ve found that it’s more useful to learn a language by constantly hearing and seeing it how it’s actually used, and how it’s spoken in daily conversations.
So, here are my five fun and engaging ways that you can learn useful words and phrases in a new language.
Change the language settings on your phone, computer, and any other devices that you use daily.
It may be frustrating at first not being able to immediately tap your way through to where you want to get to, but changing the language settings is going to force you to wrap your head around a myriad of technical words, and will give you practice in navigating in your new language. Changing the language settings also changes the language in your web browser, and on apps such as instagram and twitter. This is a great way of constantly seeing the same words every day and getting them into your long-term memory.
Many apps have pictures corresponding to their use, so you won’t be completely lost. And if you use the same apps, websites and functions daily, you will be able to easily get used to your new language setting. This is a low-effort way to get your brain adapting to seeing your new language.
Find movies, television shows and online content in the language you are learning.
A more obvious technique, but helpful nonetheless, is to browse your Netflix or YouTube libraries and find content that’s in the language you are learning. Add English subtitles, and be entertained while picking up new words. A great thing about watching movies and YouTube videos in a foreign language is that the dialogue is often conversational, so you can get an idea for how people actually talk to each other and what kind of slang is used.
Find scripts from your favourite movie scenes online and google translate them into your new language. Act out the scenes with a friend or simply read through them alone.
This works for me because I love films, and I love playing around with acting, so this is another fun way of learning a language. It’s a great way of learning because you have the whole context of the film to help you better understand what you are saying, and you get to play around with using emotion and different inflections in your voice while speaking your new language.
Prepare your meals using recipes in the language you are learning.
This is another way to get your brain used to your new language in a practical setting. To not be completely in the dark, use recipes that you’re already accustomed to so that you already have a grasp on the ingredients and methods required. Following a recipe in your new language will help you get used to following instructions and teach you helpful words for food, utensils, and cooking verbs.
Listen to music in the language you are learning, and read through the lyrics online.
Another fun way of learning a new language is to seek out songs in a genre you enjoy. Discover new music while picking up on words and phrases, and get a perspective into how melodies are formed in your new language. Using songs is a great way to learn more poetic phrases that you may not hear in normal speaking conversations. Music can help you to learn how to be more expressive, and will also drive words into your long-term memory if you play the same songs often.
Now you can get rid of that pesky green bird and learn a new language in an engaging and fun way!
Hej Då! (means goodbye in Swedish ;])