People are advised to spend time working on learning a new language each day. This can be difficult to do when you work and have a family. It’s not always appropriate to use your new language in the workplace, and if your family isn’t learning the dialect along with you, home isn’t the best place to start.
If you’re one of the super busy people described, you may not be able to learn a new language while you’re at work, but you can surely make the most of your breaks. Here are some simple tips to help you hone your second language while out to lunch.
1) Download a Language Learning App on Your Smartphone
Get some headphones, and use your app on the bus or in the elevator. Try not to do exercises that require you actually speaking without a headset, or you might end up looking completely crazy. Listening to the language, however, or playing a game, can be very helpful in your learning process.
Try one of these free language apps to get started:
• Duolingo - Learn English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Russian, Polish, Esperanto, Turkish, Norwegian, Ukrainian, or Welsh for free while having fun.
• Memrise - Learn over 200 languages with high quality courses with adaptive technology, and even compete with your friends.
• iHandy Translator Free - Translate any sentence into another language with this app.
• busuu - English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Arabic, Chinese, or Polish with a worldwide community of learners.
• 50Languages - Learn one of over 50 languages with a free course and free, shareable mp3 files.
2) Text a Bilingual (or Monolingual) Friend
You have to have at least one friend who speaks the language you’re learning. Go ahead and shoot them a text and see if they respond back. If you don’t know anyone who speaks the language yet, that’s okay. Your recipient can easily use Google Translateto figure out what you’re talking about.
I never had any desire to learn German until my friend Adam sent me a random text, “Wie geht es dir schön?.” I had to translate the sentence and figure out a way to respond. It was a little flirtatious while, at the same time, mentally stimulating. Texting is a fun way to practice a second language with someone else from a distance.
3) Order Lunch in the Language You’re Learning
Eat out at a restaurant where the staff speaks the language you are learning. For example, if you’re learning Spanish, you can eat out at a Mexican restaurant. Try out your new Spanish skills with the waiter or waitress. Patient staff is required if you’re not fluent yet. Keep a translator app handy.
4) Subscribe to a Newsletter from Another Country to Read on Your Break
If you’re learning Afrikaans, try to subscribing to a newsletter from South Africa. Sign up for the English version as well so that you can compare the two when you get stuck. Reading news or current events in a new language is a great way to hone your skills. You are able to see a lot of information in a natural layout. This gives you an experience similar to what you would have traveling abroad.
5) Email a Foreign Colleague in Their Native Tongue
Now is the perfect time to practice your new skills in a real world situation. This is why you’re learning, afterall. Be sure to let the other person know that you are just learning their language, and may need clarification. The last thing you want is for this to turn into a business transaction wherein you accidentally have 500 puppies delivered to your office. That isn’t going to look good on a resume.
So, when you’re trying to learn a new language and time is an issue, there are ways you can squeeze practice into your lunch break. Download an app or two, text a friend, order lunch in the language you’re trying to learn, subscribe to a foreign newsletter, and email a colleague. What other things do you do to practice learning your second language? Share your tips with us!
Megan Hicks is a former ESL teacher now working is a student consultant at writethisessay.net writing service. She loves finding new ways to inspire her students.