Still waiting for the kind of future depicted in The Matrix (but without the energy harvesting robots, y’know?) wherein you load a file in your head and suddenly you ‘know kung-fu’. That, but with languages of course. I’m probably the worst type of language learner because when class is done, active language learning is kinda also out of the window. Life gets busy and idealistic thoughts of studying up after work gets thrown to the wayside, but didn’t someone once say, ‘work smarter, not harder’? So for anyone experiencing the struggle, here’s my lazy girl’s guide to language learning.
I recognise the privilege I have to say this, but take any opportunity to move abroad. The easiest way is to slide in as a student and finesse your way into a full-time job. It’s the ultimate lazy route because although I’m not actively studying up on Mandarin right now, every day I’m still exposed to so much, it helps me maintain a good level of Chinese. Since my work just requires English, I’m all about that passive absorbing of Mandarin when I can!
Obvious, but finding friends who don’t speak your mother tongue is the best way to improve. And this doesn’t even need to be local friends. My Chinese skills improved most dramatically when I hung out with Korean and Japanese friends who couldn’t speak English, but were language learners like me.
If you’re more extroverted and can handle the awkwardness of one-sided conversations, Tinders dates (/relationships) are another way to improve. Obviously, don’t be an ass and use people just for language practice though.
Singing is such a great communal activity, but it sucks when you don’t know the songs. Ask your friends for a list of classic KTV songs and start learning your favourites. You’ll learn more grammar structures and in the case of Chinese songs, lots of romantic sounding phrases to profess your love (or eternal anguish) to the world.
If you don’t have time for artsy, foreign language films or TV shows, find vlogs, makeup tutorials, or even variety shows by people who speak your desired language! I love watching vlogs in Chinese because it’s another way to get used to hearing real-life conversations. And, a good way to learn new slang and phrases. For some reason, Chinese people LOVE subtitling everything so you can revise your reading comprehension too.
No longer do you need to feel guilty about the build-up of language app notifications, keep language learning fun! If you’re stuck on time to work on your language skills and plagued by the fear of forgetting everything you’ve learned so far, these are some great and easy ways to maintain your current ability or slowly advance them.
This post was originally published on Shut Up and Go.
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