How to Boost Your Language Skills
Whether you’re learning a language through classes, an app or on your own, you are probably supplementing your learning process with exercises. But beyond these essential steps, discover some extra things you can add to your daily life to boost your language skills.
1. The post-it note
This is a well known and proven technique: write on post-it notes vocabulary terms that correspond to objects in your home, and stick them on the said objects. If you’re learning French, a few notes such as “porte” for the door, “miroir” for mirror, “frigo” for fridge will go a long way! Integrate these terms into your new language, until you no longer need post-it notes! The satisfaction of getting rid of these sticky notes once you memorized the words is huge.
2. Translate what you hear
Look at any of our daily exchanges from a language perspective. Checkout, quick discussions with neighbors. Try translating some sentences in your head after the conversation. Because these are the sentences you use in our daily lives, these are the sentences you need in the language you are learning. When you go to the checkout of a store, try to formulate (in your head) the price in the language you are learning. A practical and useful exercise.
3. Be the narrator of your own life
Another technique similar to the post-it trick, which works well if you do it with rigor: say out loud what you are doing at home, even the most banal actions. For example, when you are cooking, say out loud what you are doing in the language you are learning. "I open the cupboard", "I fill the pot with water". If you don't know a word, look it up. Again, learning a language by associating it with your daily life will help you go further.
4. One movie a week
Make it part of your routine to watch one movie in the language you are learning per week. Not only will it be fun to hear the language spoken by different voices, but it is also a rewarding experience when you recognize words! In addition, it will give you useful keys to understanding the culture related to the language, and will give you valuable cultural references. You can start with classics such as Amelie, Jules & Jim, The Dinner Game or even binge-worthy series like Call My Agent or The Bureau.
5. Download news apps
The first step: find a popular newspaper written in the language you are learning and get their app. For French, having “Le Monde | Actualités en direct” or “Libération : Information et actualités en direct” is helpful. Even if you don't read an entire article, seeing the day's headlines, receiving notifications, and being in the thick of a country's news will improve your knowledge of verbs, syntax and vocabulary. At the end of the day, you can even read an article on a current topic that you have already read about in your native language. This will help you pick up vocabulary terms, since you already know the context.
Based on these tips, you can find other ways to add more language to your daily life. The idea is to immerse yourself in a flow and to get your brain to work on the language even when you’re not actively conjugating for an exercise or sitting in class.