HomeBauer Xceladvice

A five-minute guide to learning a language

HomeBauer Xceladvice
A five-minute guide to learning a language

Learning a foreign language is a great way to find out more about the world, meet new people and get more out of your holidays. Studies show it can also boost your memory and improve your multi-tasking skills.

What language should I learn?

It all depends on what you want to use your language for and where you’re going. Spanish is one of the easiest to learn as many words are pronounced how they look.

If you love to travel, Spanish and French are both helpful because they’re spoken in many countries across the world. If you just want to learn a language for fun, it’s good to pick one that’s similar to English. Dutch and German both have similarities to English, but of the two Dutch is thought to be less complicated.

If you’re unsure which language to choose, most online and local courses offer taster sessions so you can see if it feels right for you.

Where can I find a course?

Most universities or local colleges offer evening classes so contact your nearest one to ask for a prospectus. Going back to the classroom may feel daunting, but you’ll meet people and practice your language together. Your library should also have details of any other local courses.

There are plenty of opportunities to learn a language online and The Open University offers courses for beginners through to degree-level programmes.

Visit www.open.edu/openlearn/languages or call 0300 303 5303 for more information. DuoLingo (www.duolingo.com) and Babbel (uk.babbel.com) are also great, easy-to-use websites for getting started.

Ho do I get the most out of it?

  • To help you remember words, put sticky notes on every object in the house with the name of it in the language you’re learning. You could change the language on your mobile phone and computer too.
  • Learning a language shouldn’t feel like going back to school so don’t panic if you make mistakes. If you’re abroad, try to memorise a phrase that explains you’re still learning and most people will be patient with you.
  • It’s important to hear the language spoken regularly so surround yourself with songs, radio shows and subtitled films in your chosen language.
  • Practising for ten minutes a day is better than one big session a week. Try setting yourself achievable targets, such as learning 50 new words by the end of the month.
  • Find a buddy to practise with. This makes having a real conversation in the language later on much easier.  Ask a friend to take a course with you or invite a fluent speaker in your area to come and chat with you each week.  You could also consider hosting a foreign exchange student to earn a little extra money while you brush up your language. Find out more about hosting a student at www.hostuk.org (0207 739 6292) or visit www.ukguests.co.uk (0208 558 4466)
  • There's more advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.