By- Kelli Drummer-Avendano
The four pillars of learning any language are reading, writing, listening, and speaking—but how you practice them is up to you. Why not have some fun while you improve your proficiency? Here are six activities the make language learning fun.
1. Listen to podcasts
A podcast can actually combine both listening and reading if you’re able to get a transcript of the audio, which many podcasts make available, especially if they are made for language learning. Additionally, reading the transcript while you listen helps with both comprehension and pronunciation. If you’re still a beginner, it’s important to focus on picking out words and phrases you understand instead of trying to comprehend everything.
2. Write in a diary
It won’t be the same as journaling in your native language, but it’s an entertaining way to practice your writing skills. Even if you can only eke out a few sentences, try to make this a daily habit. Don’t worry about making mistakes or looking up how to say something. Stick to what you know and challenge yourself to take risks—after all, it’s for your eyes only. After a few weeks, read what you’ve written. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ve improved.
3. Learn with lyrics
Just like listening to a podcast, appreciating music in the target language is a fun activity to hone your listening skills. Understanding what someone is singing can be harder than comprehending simple dialogue, so be sure to print out the lyrics. There is no shortage of songs online, but you might want to start out with a slower ballad. You can even fit in some pronunciation practice by singing along! Karaoke anyone?
4. Talk to someone
A lot of people find talking in a new language intimidating. What if you say something stupid? What if your pronunciation is bad? However, if you want to improve your speaking skills, you actually have to speak in the target language—there’s no way around it! If possible, practice with a sympathetic listener who’s a native speaker or highly proficient. Then again, you can always practice with your pet to build up your confidence. Just keep talking!
5. Get cooking
Following a recipe in the language, you’re learning is both educational and (hopefully) delicious! Just be sure to read through the entire thing before beginning the dish in case it’s too difficult. It’s fine to look up a few keywords or phrases you don’t know, but try to figure out most of the recipe by using context clues and pictures. Cooking websites or blogs often have plenty of photos and some even have step-by-step videos.
6. Draw it
This activity is kind of like a reverse Pictionary. You and a partner take turns describing an image to each other. The person who is listening tries to draw what he or she hears. The description can be elaborate or simple depending on the proficiency level of each person. If it’s easier, you can write down what you want to describe before saying it. If you don’t have anyone to practice with you, cover up the pictures of a children’s story in the target language, and try drawing what the text says. When you’re finished, you can compare your images with the ones in the book.