8 Tips For Learning A Foreign Language

8 Tips For Learning A Foreign Language

Learning a foreign language extends beyond the classroom.

Jannis Scheu
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Learning a foreign language is a challenge and, as Americans, we seem to find it especially hard. I've been learning French for eight and a half years and am STILL not completely fluent. However, in my eight and half years as a French student, I've learned a lot about learning a foreign language and hope that one day soon I WILL be fluent. Here's a list of tips that I have compiled that helped me to improve my French and that I hope will help you in learning your foreign language, too!

1. Read books.

Find a book that's at your level and read it! If you're a beginner, start with a children's book. If you're more advanced, look for a novel that sounds interesting to you. You're probably not going to understand every word, but as long as you understand enough to know what's going on, you'll be surprised by how much you pick up on.

2. Listen to podcasts.

Download the Podcasts app and enter your foreign language into the search bar. You'll find a variety of podcasts to choose from. For French speakers, they have everything from "French For Beginners" to "Classic French Tales" to French radio. For me, the hardest part of French is understanding native speakers, so I found a podcast called "Native French Speech" that I like to listen to.

3. Talk to your friends.

If you have friends who are also learning your foreign language, take advantage of it and talk to them! It may feel silly to talk to them in a foreign language, but it's a great way to practice and you won't have to feel self-conscious about making a mistake.

4. Watch foreign TV shows or movies.

TV shows and movies make learning a foreign language a lot more fun. Even though they're likely above your level, by being able to watch what's going on in the movie or show you're able to pick up a lot, even if you don't understand all of the words. I recommend turning on subtitles in the foreign language, but you can turn them on in English, too.

5. Watch American TV shows or movies with subtitles.

If you can't find a good TV show or movie in the language that you're learning, you can also watch American TV shows and movies with subtitles in that language. This is especially effective when it's a show or movie that you've already seen so that you can focus on reading the subtitles rather than just watching the screen.

6. Keep taking classes.

This one may seem obvious, but there really is no better way to learn French than by practicing it on a regular basis. By taking classes, not only are you able to practice, but you're also able to learn new material and get feedback. If you're not able to take classes at your school, look into classes at your local community college.

7. Use Duolingo.

Duolingo is an app that you can download to help you learn a new language from the beginning. It's a great way to learn new vocabulary or grammar. If you're at a more advanced level, Duolingo may not be of help in learning new things, but it's a great way to brush up on what you already know.

8. Study (or travel) abroad.

I know this isn't an option for everyone, but if it is an option for you, I can't stress this one enough. I've been to France twice (once to travel and once to study), and both times I saw huge improvements in my French. By immersing yourself in the culture, you're forced to talk, listen, read and think in that language. You're also able to learn and pick up on language cues that you might not learn in the classroom in the US. Studying in France was by far one of the best experiences I've had.


Learning a foreign language isn't something that's going to happen over night. However, if you take the time and put the work in, you'll be surprised by how much you're able to improve. I hope that these eight tips help you as much as they've helped me. Best of luck with your studies!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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