We miss seeing our students in the shop every day! But for some of you, this awful situation we find ourselves in means you have the opportunity to spend a little more time practicing the language you want to finesse. We’re still offering classes via Zoom, and the next round starts May 2, check out the schedule and sign up HERE.


You can join our language classes from anywhere! We’ve had previous students who have since relocated join us from Texas, California, the U.K., and other spots! It’s nice to reconnect with our globetrotting community!


And for language-learning students who might find themselves with a bit of extra time to devote to their language-learning, in between our weekly classes, here we’ve rounded up some good resources to keep you practicing!




Get started building your language-learning habit HERE. German-born, U.K.-inhabiting Kerstin is a nerd for language-learning! She has great resources on her website to track your materials, progress, goals, and vocabulary. She also has some online classes with self-studying tips. Highly recommended if you want to start studying, and need some motivation to keep yourself in check.


If you have time to dedicate yourself to really building your language-learning habit, this is great place to start and to be mindful about your goal, and establish a good routine to carry through into whatever the future brings us.


Self-identified nerd and author of this blog post Natasha recommends the best website in the whole world Omniglot, in addition to anything ever about languages, they also have a handy-dandy list of resources for language learning here.


Online Resources via Libraries


ONLINE RESOURCESsometimes free, sometimes not so much…
  • Rosetta Stone is offering their product free for students for the next three months!
  • Frantastique is a really fun way to learn French from the Le Monde newspaper. Lessons with vocabulary, pronunciation, and a playful story. It’s free for 7 days, and then you must pay, but it’s worth it. They also have Spanish, with a course called “Hotel Borbollón” (super fun, easy at just one lesson a day, but you get a lot out of it), and German with “Wunderbla.”
Obviously, there are a katrillion channels for learning languages on YouTube. They’re not all created equal, and they’re not all even by native speakers. I’ve found a lot of them to be hit or miss.


In the first person now, what I would recommend is looking up a video based on the lesson you’re having trouble with. For example, I’m learning (for the third time, hehehe) the preterite in Spanish. So in between my classes, and working on my pages in the textbook, Spanish Verb Tenses, I looked up videos on it in YouTube. Honestly, it took me half an hour to find a video that was helpful. This might not help you, but if you look around and find something good, it could be a boon, and I’d recommend you bookmark or subscribe to it. The videos that came up initially for me were often by robots, or non-native Speakers, or didn’t have enough examples, they just explained it. I did, however, stumble upon one channel I really like, Butterfly Spanish. I wouldn’t say overwhelm yourself and watch an hour of her videos a day, but if you’re working on some tarea and there’s one lesson you’re focusing on, watching her video while you work at it is good for both hearing the language spoken by native speaker, and also for getting more examples to really drill it in. Again, mostly for if there’s a concept you’re struggling with while learning Spanish, I recommend Ana’s (Butterfly Spanish) videos on YouTube, She’s bubbly, friendly, and easy to understand. She explains concepts with lots of examples, and you can re-watch at your leisure til you get it! If there are videos you’ve found that are really helpful for other languages, please share them with me at natasha@idlewildbooks.com and I’ll post in future blog posts!
And a bonus for Spanish language learners, check out this music video that our teacher Sami shared with me, about how hard Spanish is for even native speakers to learn! It’s not you, it’s the language, so you can do it! (There’s cusses in this video, if you have wee ones about).
PODCASTS (for all languages)
I’m not a big podcast person, BUT, I fully recommend trying out some of these below. I find that if I’m deciding, okay, today I’m working on Spanish for 20 minutes. If I was just reading a book or binging a show in Korean, I need to get my brain used to hearing and thinking in Spanish, so putting on a podcast and just listening to get yourself in the brain space is a great way to start your study session.
Each episode is a mini-lesson in essential conversation! If you can, repeat out loud what you hear! You’ll retain more. Coffee Break has podcasts in Idlewild languages, and more, including English, Swedish, and Chinese.
Easy News 
A great resource for intermediate students OR just folks who want practice hearing the language, is to find the news your target language. Each language has different resources, there’s even a great one for Finnish by the national broadcasting company Yle! So it’s best to do a little search for either “news in slow [target language]” or “easy news in [target language]” if you’re learning a rarer language. But for the languages we teach at Idlewild, there’s News in Slow… their website also includes a page with videos and activities!
Right now only available in French and Spanish, these podcasts combine current events, culture, and language learning. Great to listen to when you have a couple minutes.


Check out our curated lists on Bookshop.org. Anytime you order a book from this website, it benefits our store by giving us a percentage of the sale. We’ve created lists with our favorite books for learning languages, as well just other fun things!


There are a TON of apps on the web for learning languages. Here are our favorites!
Daily Practice
Dictionaries (all languages! Start here!!):

Language-Specific Favorites


TO SUM UP . . . 

What makes a successful language learner?

1. Know why you want to learn the language. The strength of this will be your motivator. The more this “sparks joy,” the more you’ll want to dedicate time to practice. Sure you should learn German because your company has a big contract in Berlin. But if you’re obsessed with Italian wine and opera, you’ll be more motivated to learn Italian! Know thyself and LEAN INTO IT.

2. Practice every day! If you only have 5 minutes, that’s something! Order in a restaurant, text a friend who is fluent, do one little lesson in Duolingo, or play a tv show in your target language in the background while you’re cooking. You’ll be surprised how much you pick up when you touch your language everyday!

3. If you’re going to do ONE thing every day, it should be to write down a word. Did you hear something for the first time? Write it down on a flashcard, or record it in a flashcard app. Did your maestro repeat one word eight times in class that you can’t quite define? Write it down on a flashcard! Review your flashcards every day! If you only do one thing a day, let it be to reinforce by writing down and reviewing, at least one new word.

4. Loosen your grip on perfection. Every November, thousands of would-be authors (and published ones!) get together for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, and write a draft of a novel. The idea is that if you write 1667 words a day, for each of the 30 days in November, by the end of it you’ll have a novel-length draft. In order to do this, you have to “turn off your inner editor” and be okay to just make mistakes but charge ahead. This sentiment is crucial for language-learners. In the how-to guide for NaNoWriMo, the author writes the mantra “don’t get it right, get it written.” So it is for languages. You won’t ever be a native speaker, so stop thinking you need to be perfect. Just trying goes such a long way, and when you practice with a native speaker, they’re usually charitable, and charmed, that you would try to broaden yourself to learn a language. Be okay with making mistakes, and just try to be cheerful, tenacious, and courageous when you try to speak your new language. You might mess up, but that’s the only way to learn!


Your Homework Assignment!

Your favorite part of every blog post, right? I have this book called How To Learn Any Language. It is pretty outdated now, as it was written in the 80s (90s?), but some things never go out of style. One suggestion the author Barry Farber made was to try and immerse yourself in your target language. How do you immerse yourself if you are quarantined and your partner only speaks English? One thing you can do is change your e-mail service, phone, and/or computer to be in the language you want to learn. Hard, but a good way to learn useful everyday words in your target language. Your homework assignment, however, is a fun project that is not as intense, but very useful anyway.

Gather a marker and some post-it notes (if you don’t have post-it notes, paper/index cards and tape will do fine). Go around your house, and write on the post-its the word for everything in your house, and affix the post it on it. If you’re learning a language with gender, be sure to include the article. For example, if you’re learning Spanish, you’d write, “la ventana” for window, and post-it your window. Do this to your wall, the bathroom, the closet, the oven, anything and everything! Then as you walk around the house you’ll be reminded not only of the language you want to learn, but you’ve got a living flash card in front of you. It will make you learn the language without translating it in your head. You’ll just SEE a window, and think, “la ventana.” Then when it gets hot, you can turn it into a mini practice session and say to yourself (or out loud for bonus points) “Yo abro la ventana,” “I open the window.” Voila! You’re practically fluent!