When learning a language, there is the traditional way. - long hours memorising non relevant vocabulary words and grammar exercises- and there are more innovative ways to get acquainted to it. One exciting method is by using your hobbies to learn this new tongue.
We all love doing things in our spare time namely reading, fishing, singing, knitting, cooking; the list is endless. There is always something that you predominantly do during your down time to relax and recharge. Think about what it can be, you might have a small list of them. Well, whatever it is, use it to practice your target language.
If you enjoy reading the newspapers to be in the loop of worldwide current affairs in your first language, you can do the same by reading them in your second language. Or, if like me you are into crochet and knitting find the patterns in the language you are studying.
If instead you bear a passion for cooking, seek out recipes in the foreign language. You will be acquainted to authentic ways of cooking the foods as the native speakers do, and by reading the instructions and or watching the videos of how the food is prepared, you will not only have a perfect final product – authentic dishes- but also your chances of learning new vocabulary in the subjects that interest you will grow almost effortlessly. In these videos the cook always speaks clearly and slowly, and as a learner of the language you will not encounter much difficulties in understanding.
What are the advantages of learning a language this way?
Integrating your hobbies into the language learning even though these do not seem to have much in common, makes learning more enjoyable. You already practice your hobby anyway. Now you are just incorporating the new language into it. This will boost your motivation to improve your knowledge of the language in a fun and exciting way that also feels more genuine and spontaneous. Just like native speakers do in their spare time. Even the non-desirable tasks like grammar and new vocabulary memorisation will feel less of a hassle because they will be linked to that feeling of satisfaction coming from something you wish to do.
You learn relevant vocabulary.
It is true that to become fluent in a language you will have to know a certain number of words, no doubt, but learning the ones that you will be using more often will give you a head start. You will also be learning these new words in context which will make them much easier to memorise and remember because you are not just focussing on the language but also in an activity that you are enjoying as well.
You are closer to the culture.
As I mentioned above, some hobbies like cooking or singing allow you to be directly in touch with the culture of the target country. These hobbies might also open a door to meeting native speakers by joining virtual or in-person groups, giving you more opportunities to practice the language in diverse contexts.
It’s an effective way to mimic immersion.
As you are concentrating in the things you love (yoga, painting etc) especially if you live in a big city, you might be able to find these classes in the language of your choice as they try to cater for a diverse audience. This might give you an opportunity to befriend native speakers of the language you are studying, offering you more practise opportunities.
Research on interaction shows that having spontaneous conversations in our target language helps enormously in language acquisition because it connects what we hear and read with what we practice ( oral or written sentences).
When chatting to native speakers, you have the opportunity to receive feedback from them either when they intentionally correct your mistakes (direct) or when listening back to the way they talk (indirect). This enables you to make changes to your way of expressing yourself the next time you happen to use the same structures.
As you see, when you integrate your hobbies into your language learning, this becomes more enjoyable, your motivation lasts, you learn faster, and you reach your goals quicker.
So, tell me, what hobby are you going to incorporate in your language learning?