How to learn a language BEFORE going abroad while sitting on the sofa

Leggi in italiano 

Spending some time abroad is undoubtedly the best way to learn a language.

Here’s the language expert speaking: during our daily practice, on the borderline between curiosity and the extremely “trivial” survival, the active synapses are similar to those working during childhood when we learn our first language.

Yet, still the linguist speaking, leaving with a basic knowledge and especially a “structural awareness” of the language we would like to learn, helps us

  • achieve good levels of language skill much more easily (many people spend a year abroad but their level stays basic: this is often due to a structureless approach. [notice that whereas a child can count on at least ten years time and a young brain to learn his mother tongue, you have way less time and you are definitely less resilient.])
  • feel more confident and less afraid of the first interactions with a native speaker
  • forget less and more slowly what was learned abroad once back (if our only approach to the language is based on the need to communicate to survive, once the emergency is over our brain inevitably tends to forget).

But I know you’re a grown up with a time consuming job and that you probably don’t have that much money, plus you gotta take care of your house, children, boyfriend or girlfriend and you think you don’t have time to help yourself learn a new language.

Therefore, I’m here to give you some suggestions about how to start learning a language (or to get a better and deeper knowledge of it) even without being abroad (not yet or no more).

There’s more: since I figure you must be stressed out, I’ll tell you how to learn a language and its structures while sitting comfortably on your sofa at home.

Let’s begin.

Skype lessons

Let me start with what I consider the best way, because it combines technology with the expertise of a teacher who can follow you step-by-step and knows your individual needs.

I know some teachers who give online lessons via Skype, he’s in my opinion the very best person you can turn to for the English language and to learn Italian woo: you’ll start by having a chat with him to get to know each other and establish how frequently you can attend the lessons; moreover, he tries to identify the topics that can really motivate you to learn and, after the lessons, he even follows you via WhatsApp with text messages that can be seen as an updated version of the old homework.

His name is Antonio and you can find him here on Instagram.

Very useful Apps

città da scegliere se sei un freelance

Some Apps are really good and turn out to be fairly interesting to use and not boring at all. DuoLingo is one of them, the best in my opinion.

The system is able to pick out your skill level every time and keeps repeating the exercises in which it realizes the student is particularly weak.

Many people also find this App amusing, because it works like a game.

Watching movies and TV series

IMPARARE una lingua dal divano di casa

Are you a TV series lover? You don’t even go out on Saturdays to watch The Game of thrones or Lost for the tenth time? Well, be aware that your favourite series can be an incredible resource if you watch them in the original language.

During sleep

imparare una lingua dal divano di casa

To be honest I’ve never tried it (well, I studied my 4 languages at school and university, so I’m not to be counted) and I don’t know anyone who has ever tested any of the Apps that can help you learn a language while sleeping. Some applications, however, have programmes that the user is supposed to listen to while sleeping (look up “learn a language while sleeping App” on Google and you’ll get tons of results).

Yet, according to some researches (such as Mosal’s), it appears that this method really improves the ability to memorize what you learned during the day, whereas it’s almost impossible to learn new concepts.

To sum up, listening to what you’ve learned during the day (words, conversations etc.) while sleeping, will help store them in your memory more easily and longer. But if you hope to attend all the lessons while sleeping, well you won’t make that much progress.

Listening to music while reading the lyrics

For those like me who have learned different languages back when the Internet still wasn’t part of our daily life, it was a habit to cut out the lyrics from music magazines and listen to our favourite songs with the text in hand. In this way, we learned what to play at the beach when the only lyrics database at our disposal was our memory, and we were even learning another language at the same time.

Nostalgic memory moment over. Even today, listening to music on your iPod and reading the lyrics…maybe singing them too, is a way to help your memory store better and longer some phraseological structures that will prove useful when you don’t even expect it.

What about you? Any other idea? What methods have you used to learn a language


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