Do You Really Need to Work Hard to Gain Fluency in a Foreign Language?
Many of us want to learn a foreign language, but the idea of committing time and energy to succeed in one of the many foreign language learning programs is not appealing. Creating color-coded cards or spending hours and hours in draining study sessions often feels like too much work. The desire is there, but the effort is lacking. That’s why many learners are looking for the easiest way to learn a language.
Unfortunately, we can’t learn a foreign language while sleeping, but, you’ll be surprised to know that there are ways to learn a language easily by simply being lazy. It’s true. By adopting these skills, you can work smart, not hard, and rapidly accelerate your journey to fluently speaking the foreign language of your choice.
Watch Foreign Movies and TV
We begin this list with a tried and true method: movies and TV. Watching movies and TV in your target language lets you sit back and listen while being entertained on your way to fluency. Try to pick shows and movies you’re familiar with so you can keep the subtitles off and focus on listening comprehension. It’s an entertaining and effortless way to learn.
Make International Friends
Friends are your secret weapon for learning a foreign language. Surrounding yourself with people who like you and enjoy helping you learn your language will save you time. Instead of looking up words in the dictionary or watching videos explaining grammar, you can just ask them. They can also help you practice and correct your pronunciation. They’ll understand you’re trying to learn, and most people are flattered by that. This turns a lesson into a conversation which is always much more enjoyable and a lot less work.
Study Your Target Language Every Day
This one doesn’t seem to fit this list, after all, we should be looking for ways to do less work, not more. But this one is key. It’s best to have a little exposure each day to your target language than to occasionally study a lot. Only 20 minutes a day can already have a huge impact. By regularly exposing yourself to short bursts of language instruction every day, you don’t have to worry about forgetting what you recently remembered. And staying casual with it will make it not feel like work. Cramming rarely works, at least not in the long-term.
Slowly Change Language Learning Habits
True change takes time. Don’t try switching from minimal exposure to a language to endless hours of study and review. Instead, maybe start by listening to a few songs or watching a couple of commercials in your target language. Add a small reward for your efforts to help boost dopamine and develop positive feelings around your new habits. Gradually increase these the time you spend experiencing your target language until it becomes a comfortable habit.
Focus on What Interests You
You have many options when it comes to what types of materials you use to immerse yourself in your target language. If you enjoy cooking, pick up a cookbook; if you’re interested in politics, listen to a new station in your target language; if you like playing video games, switch to a server sourced in your target country. Nothing says fluency like being able to chat up teammates in a foreign language while you’re waiting for that “last game” to load.
The point arrives where your brain can’t process any more information. Whether you need to take a five minute stretch, a 10 minute walk, or an hour nap, do it. Time away from study material is an excellent way to help you remember the information. It can also increase your overall productivity. Too much time trying to force information into your brain may only end up with you confusing or forgetting the new material. Less is more.
Don’t “Study” a Language
Do you ever see a young kid lugging around a backpack full of language textbooks? Kids learn language through interaction and communication, not endless drills. Save studying for other subjects. Concentrate on speaking and listening instead. Distinguishing the difference between learning and studying can make your journey to fluency much more enjoyable.
Grammar is essential when using a foreign language, but studying grammar isn’t. Realistically, people forget the grammatical components of their native language all the time. It won’t be any different with a foreign language. Again, focus on communicating. You’ll learn the grammar in time.
Don’t Stress Out About Language Learning
We all have enough challenges in our lives without adding more by trying to learn another language. Anytime you feel like you’re just not getting it, put the lesson down and walk away. Sometimes a breather helps. Remember: stress actually interferes with your learning, so it’s always best to stay relaxed when learning a foreign language.
Get a Language Learning Mobile App
There’s no reason you can’t use life’s more boring moments to brush up on a foreign language. Instead of anxiously rocking side to side while you wait at the doctor’s office or when you slowly make your way to work, you can always trade a dull silence for a few quick language lessons. Thanks to the advancement of language learning technology, you can easily access these resources.
Use Social Media in a Foreign Language
Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or Reddit, you can find and connect with people and places that use your target language. Not only is this a great way to learn the language without much effort, but you can also enjoy yourself. Laugh along to memes or look through a feed casually. All while gaining experience with your target language. If you want to challenge yourself, set your language preferences to your target language on social media. You’ll learn the everyday words these websites use quickly.
Go Out to Eat to a Restaurant of Your Target Language
Here’s some food for thought: the next time you want to test out your language skills, make a reservation at a restaurant that uses your target language. Find a place in your city that serves food from the country of your target language and make a reservation. Then show up there with the goal of only speaking your target language the entire time.
You can look through the menu and try to see how much of it you know. And the food is a great way to remember because taste can stimulate your memory. If you’re worried about your language skills, don’t be afraid to take a grammar book with you to help out. It’ll give you something to look over while you’re waiting for the hors d’œuvre.
Take a Vacation (If You Can)
Nothing beats avoiding memorizing lists of verb conjugations in a classroom like taking a vacation to the country that speaks your target language. This real immersion experience will force you to use the language skills you’ve learned while also opening you up to a world of adventure. Take in the sights, talk to the people, enjoy the food, all while you practice the language.
Learn a New Language Using the 4 Common Language Skills
You can also simply focus on the 4 language domains during all of your lessons to help you reach fluency faster. Most people only spend time on one or two domains. Mainly, reading and writing. They ignore speaking (often out of fear or embarrassment). And they rarely listen, a problem that comes from relying on translation apps like Duolingo. So, if you want an easy way to learn a new language, combine multiple language domains together. For an easy way to do that, check out this infographic:
Use the Right Language Learning Resources
Perhaps the best strategy to learn a language the lazy way is to pick the right resources. You want a program that will expose you to new phrases that you’ll use, not boring lists of grammar for repetitive drilling. The more interesting your language learning experience is, the more enjoyment you’ll get out of it and the less work you’ll have to put in to remember.
For the fastest way to fluency, try language learning with Optilingo. It’s a research-backed program designed to promote rapid success. Our Guided Immersion method combines the most effective language learning theories. This proven method has helped thousands of language learners master their target language. Little effort, fast time, and great fun.