You can learn a new language anywhere, anytime. This is a gift that few people in previous generations ever had. What will you do with this new polyglot possibilities? How can you get started? Here’s a bunch of ideas for quirky bilingual projects – one for every hour.
1. Program an internet radio to wake you up in another language. Why listen to same old news when you can listen to foreign news?
2. Repeat a foreign language poem in the shower. My favourite was “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost. Mainly because my shower was never the right temperature.
3. Sing along for breakfast. Song lyrics are a powerful force for language learning – make them work early on!
4. Teach your dear ones one foreign phrase before you leave for work. They may appreciate a randomly multilingual start to the day – and you’ll remember the phrase for longer when you teach it.
5. Narrate – in another language – as you commute. This is my most boring part of the day. Why not whisper a foreign language commentary as I go along? “He passes two long-haired cats in the window…now turns left. The Tube station is now in sight.”
6. Get RSS feeds for rides on public transport. New articles in any language, delivered in your sleep? Yes please.
7. Eyes on the road? Get podcasts. For those of you who drive, there’s always an audio alternative to multilingual commute enhancement.
8. Listen to a foreign language movie at work. My better half does this often – there are websites which let you do this for hours!
9. Prepare for your work in another language. Research? Fact-checking? Meetings? See how much of this can be done in a non-monolingual way. Then do it.
10. Take flashcard-powered breaks. Give your vocabulary a five-minute workout, and take a break from work – two birds with one stone…
11. Have a multilingual lunch. Go to a new restaurant – take your favourite food in a bento box – or simply listen to a few songs that remind you of another way of eating. Culture motivates. So does food.
12. Make notes in the language you are learning. Early on, get the basic study/classroom language. Then use it to organize your material, for work and study alike.
13. Post-it madness, multilingual style: everything around you will look better with a sticky note. And every sticky note will look better with a foreign language message on it. Trust me, it gets addictive after a while.
14. Surf the web, but differently. Instead of checking your usual gossip websites in work breaks, go to the ones in the language you’re learning. Learn about new celebrities for a change?
15. Get chatty. Find colleagues who speak another language. Or find wannabe learners. These repetitive chats in the break room just got a bit more useful!
16. Research some serious training. Does the place where you work or study give you access to language lessons? Maybe there’s an exchange program you’re missing, or a grant you can chase up? These things are sometimes only hidden because nobody asks for them!
17. Channel-surf with a difference. See what’s on TV – and check how much you can understand from the foreign language channel. Don’t worry, it gets better.
18. Read a foreign language book. I know, I know.
19. Write a foreign language blog post. (Gasp!)
20. Play your favourite games – with foreign language versions. This is how the world learns English, apparently: by playing World of Warcraft.
21. Social media? Change the interface language! This is a simple trick. You know where everything is on Twitter and Facebook, right? So just swap the language from English to the one you’re learning. There: instant exposure.
22. Get out of the building. Go to a party, a meetup, a language class, a demo class, a lecture – or, if you’re abroad, just to have a coffee with the guys and ladies in the street.
23. Skype someone. Find them online, make sure they’re not dangerous, then chat.
24. Then write them an email. More authentic language practice – and this is a neglected skill!
So, there you have it: 24 ways to go through your day with foreign language activities. If you think someone could use such motivation, share this post with them.
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