Monday, March 7, 2016

Learning a new language

Hi there! I started teaching myself German three years ago, because I wanted to become a flight attendant for a German airline (Lufthansa). I started losing interest in being a flight attendant, but I absolutely loved studying German and I continued even though I didn't want to be a flight attendant anymore.

I never bought a crazy expensive language learning program or anything. I used free websites, free Youtube videos, and I bought some grammar books at a good price.

I thought I'd share some tips about learning a language, so I hope this will help you in your language learning journey!


1. Use or Livemocha. They kept messing up a lot of the grammar and words. Or, at least, in the German lessons I took.

Solution: Use Babbel or Duolingo. (There are still some minor issues with those too, but they are better). If you are learning German, you can also use this website  or this one too.

2. Use book dictionaries. This may only be a German dictionary problem, but I've come across a lot of problems and even had some French in my German dictionary! The word I needed was "airplane" and in German it's "Flugzeug," but what my dictionary said was this really long French word.

Solution: Find a good online dictionary. I use this one and it's awesome. I had a German pen-pal who told me that German people use it all of the time. Also, it's not just for German. You can use it for most languages.

3. Use the English phonetic that is under the language that you are learning. The English phonetic is not trustworthy because most languages have sounds that English doesn't have, so the English phonetic is often wrong. Recently I was looking at a chart that showed you how to say "I love you" in ten languages and I saw the German one. Omg. In German you say/write "I love you," like this, "Ich liebe dich." The English phonetic, "ISH lay-bah dish." Ugggggghhhhh. No. That's not even close to how you pronounce that.

Solution: Learn the alphabet the second you decide to learn a new language and watch Youtube videos or find websites that teach you how to pronounce each word.

4. Put grammar off. You cannot put grammar off until you know "enough" vocabulary. Because the truth is, there is always going to be more vocabulary to learn.

Solution: Buy a grammar book and get to work. Oh, and don't flip through the whole book when you first get it because it can get a little daunting to a beginner. :)

5. Get frustrated when you can't understand something. Yes, there will be times when you get very, very discouraged and frustrated, but don't let your frustration make you lose interest in learning the language.

Solution #1: When you feel yourself getting frustrated, take a break. I don't mean an hour break, or even a day break. I mean a long break. I've taken a three month long break before. Heck, I pretty much took the whole year of 2014 off.

Solution #2: You can stop whatever your working on, say a chapter in your grammar book, and go back to something you already know and something that is easy. Like, the alphabet. I've gone back to the alphabet a million times and I've gone back to beginner stuff multiple times. I don't know why this helps, but it helped me.

And last but not least:

  • Don't think you are too old for anything. And by this I mean, it's totally okay for a teenager or an adult to pretend like they are a toddler learning how to read and write by using kindergarten resources. I've used a bunch of flashcards and worksheets that were for kids. I've also suffered through watching terrible toddler movies in German. You don't have to do this, but keep an open mind. It helped me. ;) 

Other tips:

Any "Demystified" grammar books are awesome. (French Demystified, German Demystified, Japanese Demystified, etc.)

The "Practice Makes Perfect" books are also really cool. At least, the German ones were awesome.
They have Practice Makes Perfect Spanish, French, German, English, Italian, Japanese, and more.

Find Vloggers, Bloggers, or Instagrammers that vlog, blog, or Instragram in the foreign language that you are studying. That way you can read or listen to the language regularly and learn colloquial talking and also learn everyday slang and idioms used in the language.
Remember, the language you are learning probably won't have the same idioms or slang used in English.

Evaluate what kind of learner you are here, and study according to whatever way works best for your "learning type."

Think in whatever language you are learning! It may take a while, but eventually you will get to a point where you can switch what language you think in without having to translate each word in your head.

Final note:

Have a purpose to why you are learning the language.

Ask yourself, "Why do I want to learn (insert language)?"

Are you wanting to travel to a foreign country?

Are you wanting a job that requires you to speak a foreign language?

Do you know someone that speaks a foreign language and you want to talk to them?

Or do you just really enjoy learning languages?

Whatever the reason is, let that be your inspiration to study the language.

I just want to understand what people are saying in their language. To me, not being able to understand people that speak a different language is kind of frustrating. I don't want to be one of those, "I'm sorry, I don't speak (insert language)." I want to be able to understand and help other people that don't speak English.
It kind of feels like a big barrier between me and people if I can't understand them.

That's the end for all of the tips I have for this blog post, but if you have anymore questions on language learning, comment in the section below and hopefully I'll be able to answer them!

I also thought I'd share where I am in my language learning process:

I am training myself to read things in German without automatically translating them to English in my brain and so far it's working. I am understanding things I read in German a lot better because I'm not trying to translate them into English. Like, even words that I have never looked up make sense to me. However, I still need to look them up so I know how and when to use them.

My grammar is good, I just need to write more and talk more to practice my grammar more.

Something I am struggling with is when I read a blog post (or anything) that's in German, and the sentences and all are really long,  I can't figure out the right tone I should do with each sentence. Like, on some words you need to stress or make them sound higher or deeper, some sentences are sarcastic, some are funny, and so on. So, I'm just needing to listen to and speak more German to figure all of that out.

Thanks for reading!

Lauryn G.


  1. This is a really awesome post! Gosh, I need to get serious about my Gaelic again... XD

    1. Thank you, Alina!

      Yes, get studyin'! :)

      Two tips that I forgot to add though, were:
      1. Don't trust Google Translate. (You can get some really messed up translations sometimes!)
      2. Don't trust the Youtube subtitles that you can add by clicking "CC"!


  2. Yeah, it's sad that Google Translate is unreliable, but I'm still excited that they got Scottish Gaelic finally. It'll give me a chance to practice by correcting what they have wrong. XD I'm also excited because the Scottish Gaelic consultant from Outlander is on Duolingo and applied to start an incubator project for Gaelic, so I hope it works out!



Template by | Header Image by Freepik