Remember being so bored in your English class that you ended up staring out of the window and daydreaming about what your parents were making for dinner, playing sports or seeing your dog after a long day of school? We’ve all been there, whether it was for English, French, Spanish, German or any other language class, the traditional methods of language learning could cure even the strongest insomnia.
Things have changed drastically since we were subjected to the archaic methods of language learning, both in schools and in our homes and that’s largely thanks to the rapid evolution of new technology.
Whether you love or hate technology, have a penchant for voicing your distaste of social media or an obsessive need to check your phone every forty seconds, you cannot deny that technology is now a fundamental part of our lives.
That being said, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing and there are a veritable plethora of ways in which you can utilise new technology to really benefit you. We have compiled this list to give you some ideas of what you can do with technology in order to improve your target language.
The first thing you can do is use your mobile, laptop, computer or tablet to find a group near you where you can practice the language. There are a number of apps and websites which help you to do this (including Studenz in the near future). You can set your search to the things that you have in common with other people and get to know about the language that way. Personally, we find it better to talk about subjects that interest you and your partner and correct the language as you go along. These apps don’t offer services like our website but they can be used in conjunction with Studenz.com to further your learning.
VIDEO STREAMING SERVICES
This writer for one has always been a big advocate of watching series to improve languages. There has been a long-standing debate between language learning versus language acquisition and which carries more weight in the modern world. For the majority of younger users, although we’re careful not to tar an older demographic with the same brush, the acquisition is a much more digestible method. The idea is that you’re not stressing your brain by forcing it to gain new information, rather that it is occurring organically and you are beginning to make connections between sounds and meaning, the same way you learnt your mother tongue when you were a baby. There are tons of great series available to download and watch on the go. There’s bound to be something for you, whether you love animated comedy, dark horror, gritty romance, science fiction, prison drama or anything in between. The most common and easy to use platforms (which also have apps) are Netflix and Amazon Prime.
- STARTER APPS: Apps like DuoLingo or Babbel are a great way to get started. These apps will give you a foundation to understand the language but the reason we have labelled them “starter” apps is that they are not suitable for advanced learning. They focus on a method of remembering and repeat, which while extremely useful at first doesn’t equip you for more advanced conversations with native speakers. Again, you could use these combined with Sudenz to learn the basics of your target language and then find a partner to practice with on our website!
- YOUTUBE VIDEOS: How great is YouTube? You won’t find any other place where you can spend hours watching cats get confused by see-through cling film or unsuspecting kids in Coke and Mentos mixing experiments that inevitably go awry. So, YouTube is a great tool for procrastination, but it could also be an amazing learning tool if used correctly. There are some wonderful channels out there dedicated to language and language learning/acquisition. These range from basic language rules, to exam tasks, to specific explanations of accents and dialects. They don’t necessarily have to be about language as a whole. There are some fantastic videos about history that you can use to practice your understanding. Here are a couple of videos/channels that we advise.OVERSIMPLIFIED – The War that Changed the English Language
KOREAN BILLY – Cockney Accent
AMIGOS INGLESES – Phrasal Verbs
- LANGUAGE EXCHANGE WEBSITES Not to blow our own trumpet, but websites which offer language exchange will always be one of the best ways you could go about learning a foreign language. It’s not often that you get to search for a specific type of member, be it by age, gender, nationality, language or interest, it’s certainly not something that you can do in real life, without judgement at least. It’s important that you know how to really use this kind of website though. In the same way that you should find a suitable language partner at a physical event, you should take the time on the website to get to know your partner. Let’s be honest, if you choose someone who talks only about K-pop while you’re a heavy metal fan, you’re probably not going to have a lot of conversations before the potential friendship fizzles out. There’s nothing wrong with having specific individual tastes, but knowing how to express yourself and choose suitable partners is essential. You should also take note of the content on the website. It’s there for you to read, not just as filler. These types of articles that are on the blog section of the website are great for both learning the language and maybe getting some ideas that you hadn’t thought about before. If you take our advice and work hard, you’ll be able to ace your English exam when they come up! We hope that this article has really helped you and given you some food for thought. Now, get back to chatting with your language exchange partners on Studenz.com and let them know about all the amazing tips you learnt today. You can use a lot of these techniques, plus more to ace your English language exam without cramming revision the night before!Written by Jordan Benyon: Staff Writer