TOP TIPS FOR LEARNING LANGUAGES (ONLINE & OFFLINE)

The best way to learn a language is to be immersed into it. Speak, use, dream and live it every day.

However, most students studying do not live in the country of their target language and thus the challenge becomes a larger one.

Immersion has been proven many times over to be by far the best way to learn in a language.

But there are ways to learn a language at home too. Language Immersion is not about geography, but about being surrounded by your target language.

This can be done anywhere as long as you create the right environment for it.

Today we provide you with some of the top tips for learning languages (both online and offline)

Listen to our friend Layla share her top tips for learning Japanese
  • Speak, use, dream and live it every day
  • Create the perfect learning environment
  • Immerse yourself anywhere
  • Avoid all distractions
  • Surround yourself with your target language

Tip #1 – Post It Notes

Tip #2 – The Toilet Seat?!?

Tip #3 – Change Your Phone Language

Tip #4 – … and your Computer

Tip #5 – Apps

Tip #6 – Media

Tip #7 – Social Life

Tip #8 – Follow Us!

Tip #9 – Home(stay)

Tip #10 – Anyone Can!

Tip #1 Post It Notes

Sounds old school doesn’t it?

Who in the 21st century still writes on little sticky yellow pieces of paper? Language students do!

Stick a post-it note on every single piece of furniture, wall and window you can find at home.

Take Mandarin for example – one important step a language learner has to make in their learning journey is to start looking at characters first, instead of the more familiar pinyin.

So write the Chinese character on top, make it bigger and more visibility and the pinyin smaller and for reference only below. Put a big post-it on your window (“窗户 chuāng hu”).

Every time you will look out of that window wondering if you will ever be able to say those tones properly, you will be looking at it. You will never forget how to say window (窗户) again – and those tones will come, just give it some time.

The same can apply to Japanese with Kanji.

Get used to them early and don’t be scared just because they appear harder than learning Hiragana or Katakana.

Tip #2 Learn on the Toilet Seat?

Hear us out on this one! Following on from tip #1…

Where do we spend a lot of time without much to do? Put a list of your current vocabulary in front of your toilet and read it while you are not doing much else anyway.

Change the vocab around a bit as you are learning new words, though it can be good to put up old lists again for review.

Important: don’t bring your mobile phone to the toilet. It’ll only distract you.

Tip #3 Change Your Phone Language

CHANGE YOUR PHONE LANGUAGE! Sounds scary?

It can be, but will not be as bad as you might think. Most of the buttons you know already anyways and you will click them automatically.

Just now every time you click a button you will also be looking at the character and start remembering them.

During normal usage you will get used to this very quickly. However, there will be some situations where you want to change settings or do something new where you will struggle.

You will need to look up things over and over again and get very frustrated about not being able to do something, especially when in a rush.

Congratulations, you just achieved language immersion. Nobody said it would be easy.

HELPING HAND – we wrote a full guide on how to use your Mobile Phone in Chinese here. It includes so handy flashcards which will guide you through.

Tip #4 Now Your Computer

This will be much harder because on PCs we usually do much more complicated things than mobile phones. There will be a lot more buttons, settings and options.

Struggle, fight, keep going and you will succeed at the end.

Tip #5 Apps

Hardly a ground breaking tip but one you should be taking advantage of.

There’s a lot of free stuff out there these days.

Immerse yourself in them, but not too much! Some we like include:

Tip #6 Media

Movies: Netflix and other platforms have a pretty decent choice of movies and TV shows. Start watching them.

Music: Often difficult to understand, but a great way to immerse yourself into a new language.

TV Shows: Similarly to movies. Pick what makes you tick, kick back and study whilst you munch away on popcorn.

Keep it informal and don’t worry too much about note-taking or it might start to become less enjoyable.

Tip #7 Social Life

For Mandarin learners a top tip for learning a language is simply to engage in using Wechat.

WeChat Look around: Anyone who wants to learn something about Chinese culture needs WeChat, so make sure you get it.

WeChat has a “People Nearby” function, in the “Discovery” section. Because WeChat is the most Chinese software there is, wherever in the world you are, most of the people using this feature will speak Mandarin.

If you find them on “People Nearby” that means they are also in your area.

Send them a message, practice your reading and writing and if the person seems sane (be a bit careful, there are some strange characters around on there too) go and meet them for some Chinese food.


Restaurants: Chances are that wherever you are there is a restaurant at least somewhere close by, that serves Asian food.

While not all waiters in restaurants are actually from the country of your target language, most are and this is a great opportunity to practice your skills.

If they say they do not understand you, just smile and keep speaking. Don’t shy away.

Sooner or later people will accept that they have to speak your target language with you. If you do not understand ask them to repeat.

Tip #8 FOLLOW US!

We’re everywhere, really! Don’t believe us…?

FACEBOOK

Everything we create, we share on Facebook.

PINTEREST

The perfect place to see all our flashcard designs!

INSTAGRAM

You can find us on Instagram daily. We have an account for each language.

TWITTER

All our latest artwork and articles go live on our Twitter page.

YOUTUBE

We also boast two Youtube channels and have lots of loyal followers.

LINKEDIN

Come and check out our very own LinkedIn page as well!

TIKTOK

We jumped into world of Tiktok, like with Instagram, we have an account for each language.

SPOTIFY

What? You’re on Spotify? But why would you do that? We’ve made some amazing playlists for you that’s why!

SOUNDCLOUD

To complete the list, we even podcast too. Aren’t we the jack of all trades! Check us out on Soundcloud.

Tip #9 Stay at a Home(stay)

Rather than learn your target language at your home, why not learn at the home of a native speaker? We’ll let some of our Mandarin students do the talking for us…

We offer homestay programs for all the languages that we teach and over 80% of our students opt to stay with a homestay – there’s a reason why it’s so popular.

Tip #10 BELIEVE! Anyone Can Do It

Personal Note: I started learning Mandarin in Beijing at university, however in a very non-immersive environment as we were surrounded by international students, had no Chinese class mates or flat mates and the whole system at universities in China is set up to separate Chinese and international students.

I had a great time, but was very poorly immersed. I struggled for a long time until to improve my Mandarin until I actually started to immerse myself.

My whole apartment became a sea of post-it notes, I would write messages in Mandarin only – including to English speakers who had no idea what I was talking about – refused to speak English to any Chinese person and once even wrote an email to my parents in Mandarin.

My Mandarin started to improve very quickly after that. During my first semester at university I was refused a graduation certificate due to low test scores. Today I am an HSK examiner. Immersion works.

Andreas Laimboeck, LTL founder.

BONUS | Tech Support

To study a language effectively online, the technology needs to work. It is not very complex, but there are a few important things to pay attention to.

Here’s our 7 killer things to know relating to technical support for studying online.

  • Test your microphone, webcam and internet connection before the class and make sure everything is working by the time your lesson starts
  • Make sure your microphone or webcam is not being used by another application. If an application keeps blocking it, switch off that application. If that does not work, a quick restart of your computer usually solves the problem.
  • Bluetooth is the enemy of online study. Make sure you switch off all bluetooth devices before you join an online class as Bluetooth devices will access and block your webcam, microphone etc.
  • Make sure you are in a quiet environment. Background noise will make it very hard to hear you when you speak. Even things that do not sound that loud in real life like a fan or just a few people talking in the background can be very disruptive.
  • Do your homework and use the recorded lesson function to re-watch your lesson – or parts of it – for revision.
  • You can use a mobile phone or iPad to join the classes, however in our experience using a PC is much more effective. We also respect your privacy and if you do not want others to see you, you do not have to use a webcam. However, it makes classes a lot more fun if you do. It also helps your teacher to see what you might be struggling with and then help you accordingly.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is a weird but useful tip to learn a language at home?

Utilise your bathroom!

Where do we spend a lot of time without much to do? The toilet! 

Put a list of your current vocabulary in front of your toilet and read it while you are not doing much else anyways.

BONUS TIP – talk to yourself in the shower using only your target language.

What is a top tip for learning a language at home?

MAKE YOUR PHONE YOUR TARGET LANGUAGE! 

Change your mobile phone’s operating language. Sounds scary?

It can be, but will not be as bad as you might think. Most of the buttons you know already anyways and you will click them automatically.

How can I improve my speaking?

Many, many ways. This is a topic we could go into great detail with, but here is one scenario/example for you.

Restaurants: Chances are that wherever you are there is a restaurant at least somewhere close by where they speak your target language.

While not all waiters in restaurants are actually from the country of the cuisine, most are and this is a great opportunity to practice your speaking.

Can I listen to Spotify and learn a language?

Of course!

Although music can often be difficult to understand, it is a great way to immerse yourself.

Spotify has a huge selection of music from a cross the planet.

What is an “old school” way to learn a language?

Stick a post-it note on every single piece of furniture, wall and window you can find at home.

This is still a super effective way to learn a language.

Can I watch movies and learn a language?

Without any doubt!

Netflix and other platforms have a pretty decent choice of movies and TV shows from throughout Asia.

Start watching them.

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    Irene Magnosi , Student Advisor

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