Blog Author: Michele Frolla
Today we are ridiculously lucky to be able to share a blog from one of most exciting bloggers around - Michele Frolla. Michele from The Intrepid Guide, is a language and travel blogger and author of the book How to Learn Italian FAST. Originally from Australia, Michele moved to Rome in pursuit of improving her Italian. Currently based in London, she lives by the motto “The more we travel, the more we learn.” With her blog, Michele shares her passion for bringing language and travel together through with her destinations guides, language learning tools, travel phrase cheat sheets, and more! Follow her on social media as she shares fascinating and little-known linguistic and cultural facts. Check out her Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, too!
Huge thanks to Michele for sharing these fascinating insights with us and for taking the time to contribute to the Kick Start Languages website. It's massively appreciated! Please note all the affiliate links and the exciting offers Michele gives you here are her own (except the link to my YouTube channel which I added after her first tip with her permission!).
Here's Michele's blog:
When it comes to learning your first foreign language, there a lot of unknowns. You don’t what resources you enjoy, what methods resonate with you, and chances are you probably don’t even know what a verb is, let alone how to conjugate one.
But, for all the unknowns, there are hundreds of books, tools, tips, and techniques that can help you learn your first, second, or third language. Getting started with learning a foreign language is actually very easy. There are so many free language apps, online tools, YouTube channels, podcasts, and resources to choose from that you’re literally spoiled for choice.
The hardest part is knowing what you like and works best for you. The only way of knowing that is with trial and error. It’s a bit like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.
To help you navigate through the plethora of resources and get you off on the right foot, I’ve cherry-picked the five of the very best tools, tips and techniques. These five strategies are favourites amongst polyglots (and yours truly) who continue to employ these as part of their language learning.
With that in mind, let’s get started!
Here are 5 Ways to Start Learning a Foreign Language
- Get a Teacher
A great way to kick off your language learning is by having a teacher. A teacher will keep you accountable and will being the language to life. Either sign up for classes at a language school or use iTalki (an online teaching platform) to book a lesson with a native speaker. iTalki is great if you’ve got a busy schedule and need to fit in a lesson where you can. Personally, I prefer group language lessons after work. I love the social aspect and I’m made many lifelong friends this way.
If you have a full-time job and find it hard to “do it all”, watch my video for tips on how I learn languages with a full-time job and whilst running a blog.
Try the Kick Start Languages 10 Week Course here
2. Listen to Podcasts and Music
Listening to podcasts and music are great ways to tune into the sound and flow of a language. This technique is perfect to adopt when you’re waiting in line, commuting, or doing housework. Aim to dedicate at least 15 minutes a day (or more if you have time) to listening to content in your target language. Create a Spotify playlist and start adding music you like and podcasts that talk about subject you’re interested in. If the content bores you, you’re not on the right track. Remember, language learning should be (and is) fun and enjoyable. Only listen to what you like.
- Get Hooked on Audio Courses
For more structured audio learning, you can’t beat audio courses. My absolute favourite are the courses by Michel Thomas. In a very short amount of time he will have you speaking and forming your own sentences with ease. Michel constantly introduces new aspects of the language whilst revising what you’ve learned.
- Pick up a Guided Textbook
If you prefer using a book, the large publishing houses have some excellent self-study courses including Colloquial, Teach Yourself, and Assimil. Do as much as one chapter per day or as little was a page. There’s not shame here. Do whatever you can, just do it consistently.
- Discover the world of Anki
I’ve got two words for you - spaced repetition. Spaced repetition is a learning technique that progressively increases the interval of time between previously learned material in order to help you learn faster. That’s Anki in a nutshell. If you’re wondering, "Anki" is the Japanese word for “memorisation”.
Anki is free desktop application that helps you memorise your study material (which could be anything you want to learn, not just languages) by spaced repetition of flashcards. Once you set up your flashcards, you’re good to go. There is also a paid mobile app you can use which syncs all your flashcards to your phone or tablet. It’s available on both iPhone and Android device.
Supplement your learning with some fun language apps like Mondly, Duolingo, and Drops. While these apps won’t make your fluent, they are great at gamifying the learning process and sending you push notifications to remind you to complete daily lessons. I use these apps soley for learning vocabulary then I put them in Anki or Quizlet to revise later.
As a reader of this blog, you get an exclusive discount on Mondly’s. Click here to get 95% off Mondly’s lifetime subscription with access to 33 languages.
I’ve kept this list to short so you’re not overwhelmed by choice. I recommend you pick one of these technique to get started with. Ease into it. Try it on and see how it feels. Don’t rush it. Ask yourself, do I like this technique? Am I enjoying it? If the answer is no, then move onto another strategy. Rinse and repeat.
Once you find which language tools and learning strategies you enjoy the most, start to mix up how much time to spend with each of them.
As you continue with your study, ensure you’re not focusing too much on one aspect of the language, for example, you might be a grammar rock star but can you confidently string a sentence together when speaking? If not, look at how much time you spend, reading, writing, listening and speaking and focus on give each skill equal amounts of attention.
Which one of these strategies will you try first? Share it below 🙂