Insights

Learning a new language can be an exciting new challenge. It can be an incredible experience that broadens horizons, provides insight into new cultures and perspectives, and develops skills to enrich your personal, social, and academic life. Inspired by Lydia Machova’s Ted Talk The secrets of learning a new language, we picked the brains of our Modern Language specialists and polyglots. Here, we’re sharing their top tips for learning a new language and advice on how to make things stick!

  1. The most important thing is to dedicate a little bit of time every day. Try adding just 20 minutes of practice a day into your routine. This is your first step to mastering German, Spanish or Portuguese!
  2. Practice new vocabulary for daily activities. For example, if you’re cooking, use Google translate/ Siri to learn the words for the ingredients and utensils you’re using. If you decide to go for a walk to your local park, try learning the words related to the park (trees, birds, dogs, cafe, etc).
  3. Watching films or TV shows and listening to podcasts in the language you’re trying to learn can be very effective. Try using some English subtitles at first and then try changing them to the new language – if you have some ground knowledge and you’re feeling brave, try watching an episode or two without them! Here you can find some examples:
    For Spanish: some good TV shows are La Casa de Papel, Isabel or Las Chicas del Cable; try books like Spanish Short Stories by Sergio Rodriguez or Cuentos de la Selva by Horacio Quiroga or, if you know the language a bit better, La Casa de los Espíritus by Isabel Allende.
    For French: Films like Amelie or Les Miserables are some classics you should definitely watch! Some useful books are L’Elegance du Herisson by Muriel Barbery or legendary novels such as Le Petit Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery or Madame Bovary by Flaubert.
    For German: Türkisch Für Anfänger (Turkish For Beginners) is a great comedy show for the whole family, or, if you feel more like a thriller, the TV show Dark has become extremely popular lately and it will fully immerse you in the story and the language. In addition, check out books like Short Stories in German for Beginners, by Olly Richards and Alex Rawlings, or if you want to read something more literary, try the bilingual edition of Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke.
  4. Connect with native speakers! Using social media can be very effective to connect with people from all around the world. Try connecting through Facebook groups such as Language Exchange in London. For adults, Mammoth London Language Exchange is a fantastic place to mingle and practice the new language over some food and drinks. For teenagers, Lingoo’s Language Exchanges for children and teenagers can be a great option – take a trip to your chosen country and immerse yourself in the language and culture! Other agencies such as EF offer educational exchange programmes.
  5. Technology can also be very useful to help you achieve your language goals! Our favourite app is Babbel, but other apps such as Duolingo or Mondly are also popular. Find your favourite through a free account before upgrading.
  6. Engage with the culture! Try new recipes, listen to the music, research about the country’s history! The more you engage with the culture and history, the more familiarised you will get with the language you’re trying to learn. Here are a few examples:
    a. If you are a music lover who’s trying to learn Portuguese, listen to artists such as Vanessa Da Mata.
    b. If you enjoy art and you’re in a quest to learn Japanese, head to Tate Modern to see Daido Moriyama’s photographic collection.
    c. For Italy fanatics, try this Arancini recipe – these rice balls are a signature dish from Sicily and they are absolutely delicious!

At The Golden Circle, we have an exceptional Modern Languages team who guide students every step of the way to become confident and fluent in a second language. We teach children from Early Years to university level using ability-appropriate, scaffolded resources. Our goal is to make learning fun, make languages accessible, and enable every student to achieve their full potential. Please get in touch via our contact form for more information.