How To Learn A Language Effectively (And Have Fun Doing It!)

There was a time when having a degree would put you a step above the rest. But now, with over 2 million students attending university in 2014-2015, those days are long gone. The job market has become extremely competitive.

Need a solution? You could do worse than learning a language. By mastering a foreign language, your CV immediately acquires the ‘X-factor’. Further still, it could introduce you to a whole new world of cultures, customs and arts. Read on to find out how to avoid throwing in the towel at the first sign of trouble.


Dive in

You need to think outside of the box, go outside of it and then stay there. One of the most effective ways to do this is to immerse yourself in it. Even if you have a limited vocabulary, your day should be littered with newspaper articles, movies and radio talk shows in your new language.

By identifying what you already know, your brain can connect the dots to guess the meaning of the words which you don’t know. A little ingenuity can go a long way. Better yet, learning words this way can help you retain them better than simply reading off a list of vocabulary. This is because you’ve seen the word applied in a sentence outside a textbook.

Not convinced? If you’re interested in Spanish, watch Narcos. Apart from being lauded as one of the best shows out there, many viewers commented on the profound effect it was having on their language skills. Regular viewers noticed that many words were constantly repeated, to the point that short sentences could be understood without having to look twice at the subtitles.

For more experienced students, the diverse cast proved to be invaluable when it came to comprehending different accents. If that’s not enough, the lead actor himself professed to learning Spanish from scratch in just 3 months through a combination of immersion and classes. The result? A Golden Globe nomination. Not a bad return.


Take charge

To progress effectively, you can’t just rely on what your tutor assigns you. Your textbook can become rather boring if you’re just reading along in class. This usually leads to a slump in motivation.

To avoid this, come to lessons having already completed the topic the night before. Now, you’ll come to lesson with a greater understanding of the topic, along with having prepared some interesting questions about anything that bothers you.

Such an approach to your studies gives you a sense of control and confidence. It’ll also alert your teacher that you’re starting to delve deeper into the subject, which will result in them paying more attention to you. Don’t wait to be taught the language: learn it.


Believe you can do it: never forget why you started!

The most common stumbling block in perfecting your language skills is a fear of failure. This may be before you even begin. Many people are convinced that it’s too difficult to absorb a language, perhaps they’re too old. Some even question whether they’re smart enough.

It’s OK to occasionally experience a slump, but what matters is how you react. Remember why you’re doing this. Is it that dream job in which you’d be negotiating with Japanese tech firms? It could be because you want to move to Argentina. Perhaps it’s to keep in touch with family in Egypt. Whatever it is, your reason is personal to you. In a similar way, own the language you’re studying.

If you find yourself struggling to keep up in class, or sick of a certain method, then try something new. Keep it exciting, mix it up. Sticking to grammar books and dictionaries will be fruitless unless you’re simultaneously speaking and listening.

Likewise, you can’t learn a language correctly just by watching television or speaking to a native. Different approaches, when used together, can create a more wholesome learning experience. And a happier one.


Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs, visit their website.