6 Tips for Learning a New Language on Your Own

Last month marked one full year of studying the Greek language.

Why Greek? Glad you asked. (It’s quite the story, and involves meeting my 7th grade Greek pen pal during the summer of 2018 in Athens. Read about it, here.)

Although it’s not necessary to know how to speak or read Greek when traveling to Greece, I had the extra motivation of wanting to be able to greet my friend in her native language. So, diving into the language was a must before our trip last summer.

But where to begin? I started by asking around — a sorority sister directed me to her local Greek Orthodox church. There, I was connected with a school tutor. After a couple of lessons with the tutor, I couldn’t justify the cost to continue while in the midst of planning my wedding. So I very quickly had to turn to other low-cost or free language learning resources. And as it turns out, there are SO many wonderful options available. I’ve taken a moment to put together some of my favorite tools, tips and tricks below, in hopes that it inspires you to dive into learning a new language!

  1.  YOUTUBE
    It’s true. You can learn anything on Youtube. When I was having trouble memorizing the Greek alphabet, I sat and watched children’s songs on YouTube to help me remember it. Catchy. Easy. Free.
  2. ROSETTA STONE ONLINE COURSES
    Stop! Before you drop a few hundred dollars on Rosetta Stone, check to see if your local library offers it for free. Mine did. I can access the program online via my library. These courses have helped immensely with building my vocabulary. They are interactive lessons, most valuable for visual learners.
  3. PIMSLEUR AUDIO TAPES via OVERDRIVE
    Again, before you think you have to splurge on the Pimsleur language tapes, check your local library. I use an app called Overdrive that allows me to check out audio files from my library. I connect to my car and it’s Greek-on-the-go! It’s a listen and repeat format. The upside? It’s free, and the repetition of the lessons really work. The downside? You have to keep checking out the book every 2-3 weeks since it’s running through the library. Also, it’s audio – so if you’re a visual learner – this one isn’t for you. This is how I do the bulk of my studying because of my longer work commute.
  4. MONDLY APP
    Unpopular opinion: I prefer Mondly over Duo Lingo.  With Mondly, the focus is less on typing in the language and more on reading/recognizing the right answers. There is a free and paid version. The free version offers a daily lesson. That’s all I do. It’s usually the last thing I do before I go to bed. 
  5. CHILDREN’S BOOKS
    I’ve found it helpful to order Greek preschool workbooks and children’s books from Amazon Prime. These can vary in price, but generally it’s been great, low-cost way to put studying skills to the test.
  6. INSTAGRAM HASHTAGS
    Life is hectic, and studying everyday isn’t realistic. An easy way to “study” is to follow accounts, hashtags and people on social media associated with the language you’re learning. So as your doing your daily scroll through IG, you’ll start to see the language in action via captions and photos.  I’ve found many accounts that provide a “word of the day” and it’s a quick, easy, fun way to keep “studying”.

Now, don’t let me fool you. I’m probably at a kindergarten or first grade level of speaking the language. But I am lightyears ahead of where I ever thought I would be in just a year.

If you have any other favorite language learning tips and tricks, please share them in the comments below. I imagine if you’re studying a more widely spoken language in North America, like Spanish or French, you’ll have an even easier time finding even more resources, and people to connect with.

Happy studying!

Your Pal,
KJ

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