Today is the European Day of Languages! From Greek to Polish, Portuguese to Tmazight, we’re a very multilingual bunch at AdTonos, so we asked the team to give us their top tips when it comes to learning languages!
Krystyna Chupak, Customer Support – Russian, English, Mandarin, German, Spanish
Watch Movies in Your Target Language
“I usually watch lots of movies in the target language I want to pick up and read some easy books, progressively working my way up to harder books. It helps to read a book that you’ve already read in your mother tongue or a language you are more comfortable with, that way you already have a rough idea of what the story is about and you can in some cases use logic to work out the meaning of new words based on familiarity with the story!”
Use the Bussu App
“I use the Bussu app, which I’m currently learning Spanish with.”
Follow Language Coaches on Social Media
“Just following lots of pages on Instagram where people teach phrases daily can be a helpful tool. I write down these new phrases and make it my mission for the day to try and use them with people!”
Ewelina Turek, Social Media Specialist – Japanese
Immerse Yourself in the Culture of Your Target Language
“Immersing myself in the culture was useful; I always enjoyed studying by switching the language of my games or watching TV and Disney films dubbed in Japanese the most.”
Reality TV for Listening Practice
“For improving listening skills in Japanese, there is nothing better than watching reality TV shows such as Terrace House or Ainori. Textbooks are great but they don’t teach you the most natural and up-to-date Japanese. There are many amazing podcasts out there for both learners and Japanese people – try a few different ones out!”
The Best Textbooks for Exam Preparation
“For more serious studying and exam prep, I recommend getting devoted JLPT textbooks (the Somatome series, Kanzen Master, and Try! series are my personal favourites). It always made it easier for me to divide the material, and textbooks are usually great for practising shadowing (repeating after pre-recorded material). For complete beginners, I recommend Genki I and Genki II. They have some great resources on their website too. Personally, I tend to prefer hearing and seeing new material so Nihongo no Mori’s YouTube videos were really helpful.”
Language Exchange for Speaking Practice
“For speaking, find a local language exchange or join one online. Even speaking to other people studying the same language will help you improve! You can also message your exchange partners in Japanese which is an added bonus.”
Learning all Japanese scripts and improving your writing skills is a journey so don’t get discouraged and remember, even Japanese people forget how to write some of the kanji characters! For reading, you can get an extension like ‘rikaikun’ or ‘rikaichan’ that will translate words for you on the internet or start easy with things such as NHK’s News Web Easy. – Ewelina Turek, Social Media Specialist, AdTonos
“If you want to try reading a novel, I recommend getting an ebook and reading it in the kindle app. This way you can translate words and add them to your lists anytime rather than underline them in a physical book and look in a dictionary which takes forever!”
Elizabeth Teixeira, Marketing Content Specialist – Arabic
“I am a massive advocate of Chatterbox, social enterprise that upskills marginalised people in society (e.g. single mothers with long career gaps, jobseekers aged 50+ and refugees) as language coaches. The human element and feel-good factor that Chatterbox provides acts as another layer of motivation – by using the service, you are literally doing your bit to improve someone’s life as you improve your language skills! All it takes in terms of time commitment is two monthly calls of 30 minutes with your language coach, and 2 hours of self-study on the Chatterbox app.”
I can’t recommend Chatterbox enough, but in case that’s not convincing enough, compared to other providers, learners on Chatterbox can improve by 1 CEFR level around 3 times faster than with some other language learning providers! – Elizabeth Teixeira, Marketing Content Specialist, AdTonos
Short Courses at your Local University
“Universities, even if you’re not a university student, offer language courses. Fees vary by institution and duration of study, but for University of York, members of the public can study languages from as little as £370 for 19, 2-hour sessions.”
“Duolingo sometimes gets dismissed as a language learning tool because some of its language classes are not currently as in-depth and comprehensive as other programmes on other paid-for applications. I challenge this; any free tool that helps beginners in any way, shape or form shouldn’t be undervalued.
The biggest obstacle keeping people from learning a language is giving up and disengaging in the learning process. If a lighthearted approach to learning the writing system, vocabulary and basic grammar is what people need to start with before progressing onto another platform and method of learning, then Duolingo is perfect!”
“Youtubers fluent in multiple languages swear by it to go from being a complete beginner to conversationally fluent in 30 days. So if being able to communicate is your focus more so than grammar or academic proficiency in the language, I recommend giving Pimsleur a go. You can even pay for their all inclusive package to have access to 51 language courses!”
Kasia Bargielska, CMO and Co-Founder – German
Study Abroad and International Friendships
Kasia studied German at the University of Trier for 18 months in Germany.
“While I made sure to attend classes, work hard and study a lot to keep on top of learning, I also made sure to make the most of the opportunity to put what I learnt into practice.”
Having grown up under soviet rule, I found studying abroad to be such an eye opening experience, and I’m a much more open minded person because of this experience. From speaking to war veterans to international students from Germany, UK, France, Spain, US, Iceland, Ireland any many other countries and many walks of life, I really found that not only did connecting in a human way to other human beings improve my language skills, but it was a virtuous cycle – the more my language skills improved, the deeper the cross-cultural connections I was able to build.
Applying for Jobs at Bilingual Companies
As well as German, Kasia has also learnt English.
“While I use English on a daily basis at AdTonos, I will soon be able to say the same when we expand the business to Germany! Seeking out and transitioning into job roles at bilingual workplaces is definitely an amazing way to perfect and maintain your business proficiency in your target languages.
Some corporates allocate budget for personal development of their teams, and language coaching, courses and exams all fall under the remit of those budgets, so even if you can’t speak one of the languages used at your company, there may be an opportunity to get your foot in the door and get the employer’s support to improve your language skills in the perfect environment to put what you learn in class to the ultimate test IRL!”
Krystyna also vouches for this technique. Her life goal was to speak 7 languages fluently, and she’s not far from achieving her goal! She confessed:
“As soon as I reached a B1 level in my German, I started to look for a job where the German skills were required. After successfully passing the test in my job interview, I started to answer emails and calls from the clients and coworkers in German. That was a moment when I could clearly see the results of my investment in myself.” – Krystyna Chupak, Customer Support, AdTonos
We hope that our team’s tips will help you on your language learning journey; bon voyage!