Five tips on how to learn a language at home

A couple of weeks ago a large number of students have started their language course. But how can you stay motivated and get the most out of learning a language when weekdays and weekends are blurring into one big haze? We understand that learning a language can be challenging right now. That’s why, for the coming five days, we will share our golden tips on how to achieve your language goals. 

Tip 1: Building a routine

A steady routine is the key to any study situation. Incorporating study time in your daily schedule will provide continuity. By engaging with the language you are learning every day, you will build up more confidence using it. 

Here is how you build up a routine. Get up on time every day. Agreeing with yourself on a standard time when to get up will help you build a routine and cope with the challenges of the day more easily. Set up a schedule for yourself like: 8AM get up – 8:30AM breakfast – 9AM start studying – 11AM break – etc. If you work during the day, you can schedule study time at the end of the day.

Tip 2: Blocking time

Block time in your schedule for specific tasks. This might seem unnecessary but it really helps to actually get work done. Need to study? Put 3 hours for studying in your agenda – and don’t do anything else during that period. Need to finish that homework? Block an hour in your agenda for this task and get to work when your agenda says so. 

Tip 3: Post-it fun

It’s time for some fun! To help you master all the terminology, cover your house in post-its. The kitchen is a great place to start for example. Put the words for ‘knife’, ‘fork’, ‘plate’, ‘cup’ etc. on a post-it each and stick them where these items are in your kitchen. Now every time you use that item, say the word out loud. You will remember all these terms in no time! And after a few days, you can move on to cover your next room in post-its.

Tip 4: Netflix and learn

Studying is so much more than reading books and doing homework. How about improving your language skills by watching TV? Pick a movie or series in the language you are learning and switch on the subtitles in your native language (or another language you already know well) and enjoy the learning process. By listening to the language you are learning, you are submerging yourself in this language, making it easier to process the grammar and vocabulary you learned in class – and all that by sitting on the couch with your favourite snack! 

If you are already an advanced language user, you can also listen to podcasts. For Dutch learners there is a radio show called Taalstaat with Frits Spits. We can recommend it! 

Tip 5: Find a chat buddy

Our final tip of the week is to find yourself a chat buddy. This can be someone from your class who is learning the same language as you at the same level. But it can also be a native speaker of the language you are learning, who is looking for a chat buddy in your native language. Or maybe your partner is a native speaker? It might be tough for your relationship, but very valuable for your language learning. 

You can meet up once or twice a week to chat and help each other improve your language skills. To keep the conversation going, you can prepare 3-5 questions for your buddy that they have to answer, for example ‘Have you ever been to…?’ or ‘What’s your favourite dish to cook and how do you make it?’ Also think about how you would answer these questions yourself. And don’t forget: have fun!