There are two ways you can react during the lockdown: one is feeling sorry for yourself and being depressed; and the other is to take advantage of all this extra time at your disposal and try to better yourself by learning new skills. One of them is learning this foreign language you’ve been dreaming of mastering for a while.

We might be living in isolation, but we have the help of technology to bridge the gap between us and the outer world. Planning a trip abroad is currently impossible, but you can have a virtual experience by learning the foreign language of the country you will soon plan to visit and immerse yourself in the culture.

Thousands of people have figured this out. There has been an increase in interest in languages in the past few weeks of the social distancing.

Some language learning Apps report a usage increase of 200%. Even here in the UK – a nation with little interest in speaking other languages – where people think that everyone in the world speaks English, the same phenomenon is registered.

Some language learning Apps report a usage increase of 200%

Studying a new language not only will stave boredom, but most importantly will keep your brain sharp. Needless is to remind you that studies have shown that learning a new language can delay the onset of dementia by five years.

On the other end, in this globalised world we live in, by mastering a new language you become more marketable and more able to land your dream job.

Some options are not available right now – booking a course at college or language institution, or having private lessons face to face – but, as the world is changing the trend is also changing. Various language institutions have changed the classroom environment for online meeting rooms, and the private tutors who were still doing face to face lessons now are offering their services via Zoom, Skype or Microsoft team.

Therefore, you won’t miss out the advantage of practising your speaking skills with your instructor who will be correcting your mistakes as you go along. The other advantage is that your lessons will be tailor made to your circumstances and requirements.

Private tutors are offering their services via Zoom, Skype or Microsoft teams.

You might decide to go solo and try self-taught online learning. There are plenty of free materials on the internet - for most languages- that you can use. The only inconvenience, in my opinion, is that at times it’s difficult to distinguish the shaft from the seed and the time invested might end up in disappointment. Always go for the well-known institutions like the BBC languages which cover about 40 languages.

As mentioned before, there has been an increase in the use of language Apps. This is good as it gives to prospective learners the chance to interact with the language and gauge if their interest is genuine. They also help you improve your listening comprehension and vocabulary.

Apps give prospective learners the chance to interact with the language.

The Apps also include video game components in the language study with competitive goals, ascending levels of success and award systems. This makes the process interesting and at times even addictive. Experts suggest that the learner should stick to their 10 to 30-minute goal time or this could impair their memory retention.

The challenges are usually translation, speaking and listening.

Some Apps are offering access to free resources during the Covid-19 outbreak.

On the other hand, Apps can give the false impression that absolute beginners have learned a lot, and they are not engaging with the language in a natural way.

Whether you decide to have either private or group classes with a tutor, or learn from free resources from the internet or the use of language Apps, here are some recommendations:

Pick the right language for you

Identify the reasons why you want to learn the language. It is important to study a tongue which is relevant to you.

Don’t set the bar too high

Have real expectations of what you will obtain in a short amount of time.

Use an App to help you memorise vocabulary

The App will make the process funnier and will measure your progress as well. Repetition is key.

Practice pronunciation

If you don’t have a tutor or a native speaker at hand, ask Google how the word is pronounced and practice until the pronunciation comes out naturally.

Immerse yourself in the language.

If you are a beginner, you could label everything in your house with their names in the language you’re studying.

During the pandemic everybody is on Netflix. You could do a language learning activity while watching films and TV programs in the foreign language. You can set the subtitles for two languages which would help you in your listening comprehension.

Read a novel in the foreign language and find its translation in your mother tongue.

Watch kids’ programs on YouTube

This goes especially if you are a beginner. It will help you familiarise with the foreign language.

Follow the news in the foreign language. Compare the information about the pandemic in different languages.

Follow podcasts of your hobby in the country where the language you’re studying is spoken.

Explore local websites. Use Google translate when you feel stuck.

Find a language buddy. It is always easier if you know that you can practice what you’re learning with someone else.

A positive mindset always gives you the upper hand.

It is not difficult to start learning a language or brush up your skills. We are in a global lock down, true, but it is up to you to obtain something productive out of it. A positive mindset will always give you the upper hand. Most importantly this situation won’t last for ever and when it’s over, you will be ahead of those who just spent their time scrolling on their mobile phones and binge-watching Netflix aimlessly.

You can do it.


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