My advice on how to learn languages easily and in a fun way.

My advice on how to learn languages easily

I have wanted to write this post for such a long time, it’s insane. I just realized that in the past month or so, I wrote around 7-8 posts that have nothing – or very little – to do with veganism, and although I still consider myself mainly a vegan focused writer, I do have much to say about other things and writing about things that have very little to do with veganism, so that makes me proud.

Today I want to share with you a few tips on how to learn languages easily.

I also want to share with you my story of learning languages and all the helpful tips that work so well for me.

But before we begin and get into how to learn languages easily, I have two disclaimers:

  • Science has shown that some people have a much easier time learning languages, so do not be harsh on yourself if you cannot seem to learn a language beyond the basics. * *
  • Beyond what science says, it’s all about wanting to learn and being determined to constantly improve your language skills.
  • And what I find most important, is to find your way of learning best (watching, listening, practicing, writing etc.) and do it that way. I am a very auditory person when it comes to learning pretty much anything, meaning, I learn the most by listening, so that’s how I learn things that I want to learn.

Now that I made my three points, we can move on.

I am only fluent in two languages – Slovenian and English. I speak Slovenian because it’s my first language, and English because I have been learning it every single day since the age of 6-7. I do consider myself a fluent speaker of Spanish as well, but I cannot possibly speak it as well as I can speak English, while I also cannot speak English as well as I can speak Slovenian.

That should be obvious, but I find that people never really consider that you can be fluent in a language without having the ability to speak it as well as your first language. (If you are bilingual since birth, then this obviously doesn’t apply to you.)

Here are all the languages that I can speak and a short story of when I started learning them (not counting Slovenian, for obvious reasons).

  • I started learning English at the age of 6, right before I started school. From the very beginning, I found it very easy and I have memories of being 9 years old and translating English lyrics to Slovenian. In school, my grades were best in English class and I have been told by two professors that I should consider studying English.
  • I have been in love with the Spanish language ever since I can remember. I grew up watching telenovelas and at the age of 12, I started learning Spanish in school. I had Spanish classes in school for two years and after that, I continued learning on my own. I am still actively learning it today, as I want to reach the ability to speak it as good as I can speak English. I also want to improve my writing skills as I never write in Spanish thus I am not confident doing it.
  • The main reason for learning Brazilian Portuguese was that I was convinced I will marry Kaka, a Brazilian football player (I was like 15, okay). I have been learning it for the past 10 years on and off, so I am not fluent in it and have never truly committed to it. I would be able to communicate in Brazilian Portuguese, but I would definitely need help if I would be thrown in the middle of Rio de Janeiro right now. I spend one to two hours a week learning it.

Other languages that I understand or have a basic knowledge of:

  • As a child, I spent every day in the company of people who were from Balkan. I understand Croatian very well but I do not feel confident speaking it. Most of my mother’s friends were Bosnian or Croatian and my mother loved to listen to Croatian pop singers, but I never really spoke to anyone in that language. There is also the stereotype that Slovenians stop whatever they are doing the second they hear someone speak Croatian and I must say that this whole Slovenia-Croatia competition that we grow up with, has definitely resulted in me not wanting to learn how to speak it fluently.
  • I was born in a city with two official languages – Slovenian and Italian. I have been learning Italian between the ages of 7 and 11, then we moved. I was never really good at Italian and no amount of watching Rai 1 helped. I started learning Italian again in high school but I already knew Spanish then and Italian was just confusing me. Today, my only contact with the Italian language is through ASMR (more about that later) and listening to Eros Ramazzotti (his music is quite literally one of the only things that bring me back to my childhood days). I cannot speak it, but I understand quite a lot.

Languages that I want to learn:

  • I have been promising myself that I will learn Polish ever since I was 17. I never started because it seems very hard, but its number one on my list and I will be the happiest once I am fluent in it. I think it’s a gorgeous language.
  • Besides Slovenian and Brazilian Portuguese, I find Russian the most beautiful language in the world. I have started learning it last year but it sounded so similar to Slovenian that I stopped. I am definitely coming back to it in the near future.
  • My promise that I will move to Catalonia once they become independent is still true, so Catalan definitely holds a high place on my to-learn list of languages.
  • A few years ago, back when I was an avid SJW, I felt very strongly that I want to learn an Arabic language and I chose Urdu. I had everything prepared but for some reason, I never started (not good). I know that learning the Arabic language will take more effort than learning any other language on my list, but in the future, I wish to speak at least basic insert-an-Arabic-language-here (even Standard Arabic would do, although I heard that it’s not really used that much).

Okay, enough about me, let’s focus on you and how to learn languages easily.

Because I don’t want to repeat what everyone says one should do to learn a language, I want to only tell you about what worked – and continues working – for me. So, here are steps on how to learn languages easily aka all the steps that I am taking (and took) when learning a language:

  • As I mentioned earlier, I am auditory when it comes to learning so I always make sure to have something to listen to. When I was learning Spanish I made YouTube playlists of thousands – and I mean literal thousands – of videos by female Latin and Spanish celebrities that I liked. I listened to those videos when I scrolled through social media when I searched for photos and anything else that didn’t require my full attention. Also, I deliberately chose to listen to those from Spain and Argentina, as I wanted to pick up an Argentinian -Spanish accent. I obviously have a Slovenian accent but I hope that one day I will be able to sound slightly, slightly, slightly like people from those two countries.
  • Staying with listening to a language, I downloaded interviews and listened to them on the go. I like to think that it helped me accept the language in a more normal day-to-day way because instead of hearing Slovenian everywhere, I heard Spanish or Portuguese.
  • As you know, reading is my favourite thing to do, and because there is a shortage of Spanish and Portuguese books in Slovenian libraries that I would find interesting enough to read, I saved from the internet magazine scans with interviews from my favourite actresses and would read two to three pages every day. Reading interviews helped me to learn how to speak about myself, instead of reading articles that were not written from the first-person narrative.
  • The second thing that I love doing the most is watching movies and TV series. As I said, I grew up with telenovelas and there is never a shortage of them on television, but after a while, you get tired of the same boring storyline and you want more. I started watching movies that I found interesting based on the trailers and sometimes I would even watch an episode or two of a TV series.
  • One of the ways that help me keep learning languages today is listening – it’s mostly watching let’s be honest, I love the girls that I am subscribed to – to ASMR. Most of the channels that I love are in English, but I did find a few in Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Russian. The thing is, I don’t even listen to ASMR to go to sleep; I listen because they are entertaining and help me when I am writing or creating graphics, so I always have a different language in the background. My brain picks up everything and it normalizes the language for me and it becomes a part of my life.
  • One of the ways to always have a learning session is to follow people on social media that post content in different languages. I am subscribed to a few non-English channels on YouTube and if they post something interesting, I watch it. I used to follow Spanish speaking vegans on Instagram and whenever they posted a photo, I would read a description in Spanish. It’s just a lovely way to practice a language now and then.

I hope that helped you and that you found anything even a little bit helpful because I really wanted you to know all the little secrets that help me learn a language.

Okay, a short anecdote time: English has become such a huge part of my life, that there are literally words in English that I know but have no idea how they are called in Slovenian. And sometimes, thankfully not often, I start a sentence in Slovenian and end it in English. Curse words are obviously in English and 80% of my thoughts and notes are in English. It’s embarrassing because I am one of those people who are really concerned about the future of Slovenian language.

Anyway, if you have learnt anything helpful from today’s post, let me know in the comments and if you know which Arabic language is the easiest, please, please, let me know. Plus, if you have any tips on how to learn languages easily, that would be also very welcome for other readers.

If you have a minute or two, find me on Instagram.

Tanja

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