Transforming Social Isolation into an immersive language learning environment

Mobile phones are our window to the world during social isolation – use them for language learning
  • Change mobile phone and social media accounts into the target language – our phone is a portable language learning tool in our pocket, so make the most of it by switching it into the language you’re learning. The average person will spend nearly two hours (approximately 116 minutes) on social media everyday according to Social Media Today, so make the most of your minutes by learning common words such as ‘like / follow / share / comment’ and informal vocab. 
  • Change your computer’s language settings – as above, but only if you’re really confident navigating and finding things.  Especially take note of how to get to your language settings so that you can change it back!
  • Set up a virtual language lunch club – many of us are missing our usual language clubs like Mundo Lingo, so why not bring the language social to you by setting up an online language lunch club using zoom or another video meeting platform.
  • Podcasts – Download podcasts and spend 15-20 minutes immersed in a foreign language, maybe whilst taking a walk or doing some DIY or tidying round the house.
  • Use Post-It notes – our brains are wired to remember things by association and in context much more easily than when we see a list of words in a textbook out of everyday context. For basic nouns and phrases, it can be useful to put the word on the object to help it stick in your mind. I find it really helpful to allocate specific colours to different genders or types of words (e.g. masculine, feminine or neuter nouns or verbs and adjectives). After 1-2 weeks of regularly seeing the word associated with that object you won’t need the written cues anymore.
Post It Notes can be a colourful tool for vocabulary learning
  • Write to friends overseas – keep in touch with friends overseas by writing letters, postcards, emails or messages in the target language. If you don’t know any native speakers of the language, you can find pen pals online at Language Forever Exchange
  • Learn with an online tutor from the comfort of your sofa – for a small fee you can spend an hour practising your languages with community teachers or learning with qualified teachers on sites like italki.  There is also the option to offer lessons for credit, so it can be a cost neutral way of learning. Sign up to italki today!
  • Duolingo – this fun app has gamified language learning and will take you through various interactive exercises and introduce a range of vocabulary, grammar and phrases you’ll need for the language you’re learning. Great for short bursts of 10-15 minutes per day. They even have High Valyrian so you can find almost any language you’re passionate about!
  • Listen to radio in another language – every morning while you’re getting ready have the radio on in the background so you can soak up the language and hear the latest news stories from another part of the world. If you have a smart speaker (e.g. Alexa or Google Home) or something similar, you could even set a radio alarm to wake you up each morning!
  • Sing along in another language – this is useful whatever level you’re at; you could sing along to and learn children’s nursery rhymes, the national anthem or whatever song is at the top of the charts in the language you’re learning, depending on your level. Keep your learning fun and tailored to your music preferences. YouTube and Spotify have plenty of songs if you’re stuck for inspiration and are great resources for international music. YouTube often has lyrics to songs embedded in videos, which is really helpful.
  • Read articles in the language online – I find it useful to follow prominent newspapers in the language I’m learning on social media so that the language regularly pops up in my feed. Alternatively, you could take out a subscription for a magazine or paper to be delivered in the post right to your door.
Listen to more music in the language you’re learning
  • Read books in the language – there are lots of language books on Amazon, at Grant and Cutler so make the most of the extra time at home to dive into a good book. 
  • Watch films on Netflix or Amazon Prime – many of us have access to hundreds of films and series on our TVs, but when was the last time you searched for the foreign language section? Take a look and discover some new series or films while soaking up the language!

Let us know if you try any hacks from our list and share your top tips for creating a language learning immersion environment during social distancing with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

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