Tips for Learning a Language

Learning a new language can be exciting, but can also be really frustrating.

Both K and I have been mostly self taught. K has learned English (mostly from the internet and video games/movies) and I’ve been learning Dutch.

K is fluent in English and I am a novice in Dutch. I understand everything if it’s written but the speaking and understanding speech is what I’ve been working on lately.

My Dutch Journey has included an awesome class (3 times a week for 3 months) however I’ve been self-teaching for the most part.

In my personal experience, beginning with classes and then keeping up the routine and practicing on your own, continuing with textbooks at home is the best way to learn.

Here are some tips, and at the bottom of the post are some resources we’ve used!

Purchase a dictionary (and actually read it.)
Reading a dictionary may seem ridiculously time consuming and silly – but you never know what will stick with you and it’s a great way to learn.

Practice (in front of people.)
Learning a new language can sometimes be intimidating – because you feel like everything you say is wrong or sounds ridiculous. If you’ve ever learned the more harsh sounding languages (German, Dutch, Russian, Serbian) then you know what I’m talking about. Practising with someone or in front of an audience ensures gives people a chance to correct you and also gets you used to speaking in front of people.

Udemy, Rosetta Stone (or other online language programs.)
Online learning tools like Rosetta Stone do wonders if you follow your program and stick with it. These programs allow you to practise writing, reading and speaking.

Although these programs are not free (some costing as much as $300), don’t let that be the reason you don’t try! Purchasing Rosetta Stone and enrolling in a Udemy course were some of  the best ways I could prepare myself for moving to Belgium!

Speaking Groups.
Finding other people who are learning the same language is always helpful. You have someone who is learning the same new things at the same pace. You also have someone who understands why you want to smash your computer into tiny pieces and burn all your translation books.

Take a (Small) Break
Now – when I advise you to take a break I don’t mean bury your language books under your pile of laundry and commence a 2 week binge of Orange is The New Black. What I mean is that some days you just might not be feeling it – and that’s okay! If your mind is wandering or you’ve read the same word 6 times and still don’t know what it means – it’s okay to put down the book for a day or two! Chances are if you’re not into it, you won’t remember what you’ve learned anyways.

Be patient.
You don’t have a formal teacher. You don’t have a curriculum and you’re not in a classroom. It might take months to become a novice – and years to become truly fluent. Learning a language takes time and effort – be patient with yourself and understand this won’t happen overnight.

Be consistent.
This is not like your vegan phase of ’07 or your 3 day obsession with learning every word to One Week by Barenaked ladies. This is something you need to practise every day. Consistency is key.
Learning a language is absolutely nothing like riding a bike.
You will forget everything if you don’t use it.

Enjoy it.
This shouldn’t be something dreadful, agonizing and annoying. It’s normal to be frustrated sometimes, but the passion and excitement for learning a new language has to be there.
Make games, do crossword puzzles, set challanges and reward yourself.You have to want this and you can make it fun!

Integrate it into your life.
As weird as it is, when you’re at the gym – do your set counts in that new language instead of your own. Listen to music in that language.
In simple terms: use it or lose it.


Resources We’ve Used;

Rosetta Stone
I’ve used Rosetta Stone for 6 months or so, and I love it! It’s been most helpful with the speech portions, because when you practise with Rosetta Stone you can’t move on until you pronounce the sentense properly! Sometimes annoying but super helpful!

Movies/TV Shows
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the show SpitsBroers, a Belgian-made, Dutch speaking show. We watch together with Dutch subtitles and K explains the parts I miss. It’s been really helpful and it helps when learning and lazing around in your pajamas are the same thing.

Online recourses are obviously a great way to go these days. Babbel offers languages from Hebrew to Italian and has some great reviews. We decided to check it out last year, and we loved it! With an app and the website, you can chose your course type and do just a few minutes a day or an hour a day.

I loved this app because of it’s flexibility.

This app is not free.


It was actually a friend who recommended this app/website and I wasn’t let down! This FREE app/website is a MUST have.

Duolingo allows you to learn by writing, speaking and rehearsing.

Studies have shown that 35 hours of using Duolingo is equivilent to one semester in a University language course!

Learn more about Duolingo here!

LiveMocha Blog

This Blog is awesome because it allows you to speak with other people learning the same languages as you. It also gives you FREE access to native speakers of that language and free language learning content!

Blogs, Articles & Youtube

There are so many others who have learned this language before you and they all have tips for you! Of course, everyone learns differently, but utilizing the web to research tips, tricks and resources is a great idea!

One of my favourite posts is the Secret to Learning a Language As An Adult post from TIMES magazine.

A favourite youtuber of mine has been Eveliine from Flemmish for Dummies.

Absolutely love her and she’s been super helpful!

***This post contains affiliate links, however, all websites/apps/programs are things I have personally used and love.

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