People tend to roll their eyes when you say you’re self-teaching another language. While it isn’t the typical manner of learning, sometimes it’s our only option.
Pick the Right One
Is there a language you’re yearning to speak? Is there one that aligns to your mode of learning? For example, I chose to minor in German in college because it has a system similar to Latin, which I took in high school. This made the transition a bit easier on me. Furthermore, I liked it because I didn’t have to learn a new alphabetic system. Everyone has different interests and means of learning, so look into a language that you can see yourself being dedicated to. You have a lot of work ahead of you, so liking what you’re learning is important.
Applications like Duolingo and HelloTalk are an easy way to get started. While I wouldn’t suggest using them as your primary means of learning a language, they offer quick and easy games and quizzes that’ll help you brush up on grammar and vocabulary. They’re also a good way to practice for when you’re on the go and outside of your normal learning space.
Radio & Television
Try tuning into podcasts, international news, and radio channels to learn. It may be difficult to pick up on at first, as the language will be more colloquial and eloquent than what you may be used to, but it’s a wonderful way to build vocabulary and understand context. The more you listen, the easier it will come to you.
Pick A Favorite Book
Find a copy of one of your favorite books in a foreign language. While you likely won’t understand all of the words, again, you’ll build vocabulary because you know the story and therefore understand the context of each scene. Even if it’s a children’s book, it’s a good foundation for honing your skills and comprehension.
If you’re a Disney lover such as myself, one way I tend to teach myself new vocabulary is by listening to multi-language versions of my favorite Disney hits. Disney films are so huge almost all of them have various film translations available. Songs are an excellent means of exercising memory, and what better way to learn new words than by applying them to some beloved melodies?
Learning a new language is tough; teaching it to yourself is even more so. Don’t stress too much, though. You have options, and you have the benefit of moving at your pace. Find what’s right for you and go from there. Viel Glück!