Seven Surefire Ways to Learn a Second Language without Leaving Your House

From the language of the title you understand it is a guest post. Learning languages has always been one of the inspirations of our students. Usually, we provide in-depth analysis of specific aspects of language learning, and now it is our pleasure to provide the overview as it is perceived by one of the market leaders in teaching languages. The post was contributed by Dennis Baklan from Preply. Preply successfully amassed over 50,000 tutored on various subjects and hundreds of thousands of students.


How can you cut expenses and time spent on learning a second language? Today technology and online learning are the most obvious answers. A variety of training videos, recordings of online books, real-time chatting with native speakers, applications for memorizing words and tricky phrases are only a small part of benefits you can receive paying nothing for it. Not only you can reduce costs on expensive textbooks and supplementary materials but also save on transport.

Yet, if you strive to achieve tangible results, you need to find solutions that will perfectly match to your personal study aims. Each of us has different purposes deciding to learn a language. Most often people become more motivated to learn a second language craving for a significant career advancement or getting the desired internship in a world-known company. Although our purposes may differ, we all need a unified approach to the same problem. Considering this, we have come up with seven surefire language learning ways for those of you who prefer studying in their home environment.

Guidance from a Skype tutor

A few people can learn a language without any guidance. Usually, these are polyglots who have already succeeded in other languages and attained a sufficient level of fluency. However, a person who has no professional training and methodology for self-learning will hardly get the desired progress. Of course, Skype-learning is a paid service but those who do not invest in their studies usually do not move forward. Such a service like Preply offers both teaching by Skype and traditional face-to-face tutoring either at your home or the tutor’s place. Unlike orthodox teaching methods, being guided via Skype is more convenient not only because you don’t have to travel. You can learn at any time of the day not limited by the business hours when you have to work.

To be honest, I never used Skype tutors. I find the group support of university or embassy based classes more appealing. Skype tutoring, however, is a great option, especially for less common subjects or if you have specific needs. Probably you should not get a Skype tutor unless you are willing to invest hundreds of hours into studying the language. This is not something to do out of pure curiosity. I would recommend using Skype services only after a month or two of independent training.

Self-learning via an interactive  program

All the following ways you can use separately, yet each technique functions better in interaction with another. Hence, if you attend Skype lessons of a French teacher twice a week or more, the rest of time you should allocate to self-learning via interactive programs or applications like Rosetta Stone, DuoLingo, LinguoLeo, Babbel etc. They have acquired huge popularity among self-learners because of availability and visuals that help grasp more information in the short time. Moreover, all these tools are based on the game elements which retain attention better and urge a learner to return to the process of advancement.

Please check our post for additional details

Simplified learning of words

Many learners spend the half of their time cramming dozens of words but see no result. Bad memory or no flair for languages are supposed to justify their gradual failure. In such a case, learners pay a lot of efforts to stuff their heads with new words. Unfortunately, cramming is always a wrong approach because it’s almost like torturing your brain which can’t understand the purpose of frequently repeated words. Therefore, interactive methods of learning are better for long-term retention of words. They make your brain willingly absorb the needed information taken from the context. For this reason, I (Preply) do recommend Quizlet and Memrise as two complementary applications for training your memory.

We (keytostudy), on the other hand, recommend investing some time into mnemonic methods, like Memory palaces.

If you are learning a language that is unlike other languages you know (like Japanese), you should invest more in YouTube to get the feel of the language. Learning words without understanding the culture and the word formation is very hard. Do try the etymology method.

Practicing grammar than studying the rules

To stop hating grammar you should first try not to treat it as a bunch of complex rules. The more time you spend on practicing grammar, the fewer rules you will have to learn by heart. Today you can find thousands of exercises for one grammar unit. They are mostly free and provide instant feedback. However, such free materials may contain mistakes and inconsistencies. That’s why it is better to use your tutor’s recommendations first.

To facilitate memorization of the grammar learn these pro tricks.

Speaking at any moment of the day

It is especially hard to develop such a habit when you are too tired to deliver a thought even in your mother tongue. Besides this, many learners also get used to speaking on particular days of the week and time when they usually have their lessons. For them, the other time can even seem inappropriate for practicing. Yet, speaking when you feel unprepared and awkward challenges a learner to engage all the potential and knowledge to get the most.

Here you do need the tutor or some social support. Many people fail to learn languages they want. I (Lev) fail to learn languages that I cannot use in my daily activities. Some of the most successful language learning experiences happened to my friends who married ladies speaking the specific languages. Even Chinese is not too complex for a determined guy married to a Chinese lady.

Discovering new cultural traits of a chosen language

Any spoken language belongs to a particular country or countries and populations with their cultural differences. The last is a good way to keep yourself constantly motivated and interested in the language. You can start with food and find out about the origin of the most popular meals. You can even try to prepare some of them learning the names of ingredients and the process verbs this way. Another cultural exercise is to make a list of “must-see” places and begin researching the most visited spots as if you already have a ticket to a particular city.

If you have access to the TV of the particular country of interest, it may be very helpful to your progress. I learned English in large part by watching TV with subtitles.

Visit a country of your second language with the saved money

Saving on commuting, resources and time you can raise a good sum of money for a trip. Delving into the language bubble is essential for those who learn a language more than a year. Such an experience is the best motivator because you see real people who use it as a part of their daily routine. Besides, you can get rid of a fear to speak since you won’t have any choice but to communicate in different situations.

And here we come full circle to the question of why you want to learn another language. If you seriously need to learn some language, the chances are you plan to visit the relevant countries quite often. You need to belong to a very rare group of people if you have enough stamina to learn language due to some academic interest. There is some virtuos cycle in language learning: the more you need the language, the easier it gets to learn it. The more you learn a language the deeper is your need to use it.

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