Today I will be writing about a topic that I think is one of the most important in terms of learning a language, that is following your interests. A lot of people have the misconception that learning a language is a dull, boring process and I think that school and universities are helping feed this misconception.
In reality language learning is what you make of it, that’s why I think that following your interests is so important. One of the most difficult things for a lot of people when learning a language is keeping up the motivation to learn and to keep at it day after day. So, the question we have to ask ourselves is how can we keep learning without it feeling like we’re studying a language. This is where following your interests comes into play, have a think, what are your hobbies? What are your interests? Now think to yourself, how can you use your target language in conjunction with your interests.
Perhaps you like to play video games, why not play your favourite games in the language that you’re learning.
Popular platforms like Steam, allow you to change games languages. Perhaps you like watching streamers on Twitch.tv, why not try and find streamers that speak your target language. You’d be surprised how easily you can pick up random bits of vocabulary without actively learning. For example, since I’ve been playing PUBG I know the french words une grenade assourdissante, un chargeur, un buggy, I never had to sit down and learn these words I just absorbed them while playing the game.
I try to immerse myself when I learn a language, for example each morning when I wake up I normally like to read the world news. Instead of just doing this in my native language, I look up the news in one of my target languages. Another one of my interests is history, especially the Second World War, now I enjoy reading and watching videos about WW2 any day of the week, so instead of reading a book or watching a documentary in English, I try to find translations or books written in my target language on the subject of WW2. Sure, at first it was difficult because I didn’t know a lot of the vocabulary related to warfare, but after a short amount of time I learned the words that I needed, which was helped by the fact that certain words come up very often in the subject of warfare.
Nowadays we’re lucky that it’s so much easier to find content in foreign languages. Wikipedia is an amazing free resource. I know many people including myself are guilty of binge reading interesting pages on Wikipedia, so why not do it in your target language if it’s available. Audio podcasts are also a great option, there is a huge range of podcasts available, so next time you’re listening to a podcast or reading something on Wikipedia try doing it in your target language.
For me it makes the whole process of learning a language much more enjoyable. I’m learning about things I actually care about, not some boring subject or random vocabulary that some course book is forcing down my throat. Learning a language is a journey, and in my book it’s about making that journey as enjoyable as possible, and not feeling like a chore or a dull boring task. Sadly, we live in the time where everyone wants things straight away, you just have to look at language book titles, learn French in 30 days, Fluent in 3 months, at the end of the day learning a language does take a considerable amount of time (to a high level anyway) and if you’re enjoying your time learning a language, time will fly by and before you know it you will have reached a high level.
So, go have a think! What are you interested in? What do you love to do? Think about how you can do the things that you’re passionate about in your target language. I guarantee you that it will make learning a language a much more enjoyable process for you.