- Access Mango for free with an NYPL card. (Note: you can apply for a card if you’re a resident of New York STATE!)
- Language Learning resources with your Queens Public Library card
- 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.”
- News in Slow Spanish
- News in Slow French
- News in Slow Italian
- News in Slow German
- There doesn’t seem to be an active podcast for News in Slow Brazilian Portuguese, but check out this forum post, with links to some good alternatives.
- Spanish – SpanishDict
- French – Oxford French Dictionary
- German – LEO Dictionary
- Italian – Oxford Italian Dictionary
- Brazilian Portuguese – Dicionário
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!