Written by:
Mar 26, 2020

13 Unexpected ways to learn languages

If learning a language feels like work to you, it means you are doing something wrong. It should be the other way around; your learning style should be the one to work--and for you!

If you’ve ever felt bored by your learning style, then you should definitely stick around and take a look at our suggestions. We have prepared some unexpected and above all, fun ways you can learn a new foreign language. 

Despite popular belief, learning languages should be fun and exciting. After all, you are shaping your mind and your life. It is not like other subjects, so your learning method should be different as well. You should try to approach this new language in an adequate way. And which way is the best? Well, the one that works for you.

That’s why we want to show you how you can learn and enjoy the process at the same time. Here are 13 unexpected ways to do it!

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1. Podcasts

Podcasts are a great companion when you have to do your daily commute. But did you know you can use them as a language tool as well? It is true. 

Podcasts are, in fact, a great language tool because they can be implemented into your routines, you can listen to them on the go and also, the podcast choice is huge! There are language related podcasts but also those related to business, marketing, history etc. Their biggest advantage is that you can listen to natives speak casually--all the time!

2. TV shows

One of the most fun ways to improve your language skills is, without a doubt, by watching TV shows. If you get rid of the dubbed audio and play your show in the target language, you will get to watch and listen to native speakers. Depending on the show you choose, you are likely to hear popular slang, useful expressions and new words that are actually used in real life.  

With subtitles in your native language, the chances of learning new words from context are much higher. You can also make a pocket dictionary for each episode that will help you remember the context. You and your friends share the love for binge-watching? Why don’t you organize an evening event with them where you’ll binge-watch then chat about it (in another language)? Enjoy!

Unexpected ways to learn a language

3. Take a trip

Everyone’s favorite way to learn--travel! If you have the option to travel abroad, you should definitely go for it. It is without a doubt the most fun way to immerse in a culture. You won’t have any other choice but to speak to natives. Don’t be afraid of mistakes--the more you make them, the more you’ll learn. Encourage people around you to correct your mistakes. Make note of them and learn. A fun trip to a country of your target language can really make a difference in your learning journey.

4. Language Drops

If you are looking for a fun and practical way to memorize new words, Language Drops is the app for you! With this exciting game, you’ll be able to learn and acquire new knowledge everywhere you go. 

The best part about this way of knowledge retention is that you actively participate in the learning process. Fun word games will easily engage you and make you want to learn more and more. You’ll be surprised by the power of visual association! With Language Drops you’ll build your vocabulary efficiently and proceed to grammar, sentence construction and other aspects at your own pace. 

5. Reddit

If you want to become a part of a big community in your target language, you should definitely consider Reddit. It is a gold mine for language learners. 

First of all, you get to apply your knowledge in practice by chatting and exchanging thoughts with other students or speakers. But most of all, you get to immerse in another culture, which is not so easy if you don’t have the chance to travel. 

6. Online native-speaking friends

Thanks to the power of the internet, you can learn languages much faster than before. Why? Because native speakers of every language are on the internet. You just need to find them. Forums, language exchange websites, language learning platforms, chat rooms, social media… Those are all places where you can look for native speakers of your target language. 

Having online foreign friends can do wonders for your language skills. The best part is that you can practice anytime, anywhere. You are not limited by time frames or grammar books; you can chat about daily events, favorite books, movies, TV shows. Casual and fun conversations will get you closer to becoming a confident fluent speaker.

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7. Find native-speaking friends in your city

If you are the type of person who likes to meet new people and attend fun events, you should definitely consider finding native speakers in your city. Cultural activities, conversation nights, language exchange evenings are some of the events where you’ll probably find foreigners and native speakers who are eager to hang out. 

This way of learning a foreign language is very practical and fun--you get to meet new people, be yourself and hang out! One thing is sure--with friends, it’s easier to overcome the fear of speaking in another language, so make sure you try it out.

8. Use Instagram features

The truth is, we all adore Instagram. But do we really use it to our advantage? Not quite. Well, there are plenty of Instagram features that can help us improve our language skills. The best one is surely the bookmarking option, or as Instagram likes to call it, the ‘save’ button. Use this button to bookmark lessons so that you can get back to them later and practice. Also, when you hit save, you’ll have the option to create collections, so you can actually organize your lessons into folders. This can make your learning process so much easier and more entertaining!

Of course, you have to make sure that you are following the right accounts; such as bloggers who are native speakers or language learning profiles. Don’t be afraid to comment and chat with other learners or speakers. Your road to fluency can start right there, on Instagram. 

9. Watch YouTube tutorials

YouTube is a great place to boost your knowledge, from cooking to beauty skills. But while you’re learning how to make that delicious banana bread, you could also be learning new expressions in your target language. Enjoy your favorite content, but instead of searching for tutorials in your own language, why not try some foreign YouTubers this time? 

By watching tutorials in another language, you will improve your listening comprehension, acquire new vocabulary and most importantly, enjoy the process! 

10. Keep a language diary or blog

Keeping a journal has proven to be very helpful for individuals who like to explore their thoughts and plans. Blogging is also one way to do it but followed by letting other people in your life. Well, this is actually a great way to practice your foreign language skills. Above all, you get to write in a natural and casual tone because it’s your life that you are writing about. You’ll improve your writing skills, extend your vocabulary knowledge and practice complex sentence structure. After a few months of keeping a journal in your target language, you’ll notice the difference when you talk to natives; words and sentences will come naturally to you!

11. Change your interface language

This is a rather quick and efficient way to learn new words. You already know all the shortcuts on your phone by heart, so switching to another language won’t make such a difference for you in your daily habits. However, it would make a huge impact on your vocabulary knowledge. Switch to your target language on Instagram, your phone or laptop. You will see the difference only after one week! 

12. Label objects in your house to implement new vocabulary

If you are looking for the most practical way to learn common words, this one is for you! 

It is very simple and easy. You just need to label objects around you; you only need a marker, a duct tape and sticky notes. You wouldn’t believe how many new words you’ll learn this way. Your household is a gold mine--use it to your advantage!

13. Pocket dictionary

Learning words by heart from the dictionary is not very effective. However, if you change this approach a bit and personalize it, you could improve your vocabulary very fast. 

Create your own personal dictionary and have it with you all the time. During your daily tasks, ask yourself if you know how to say “oven” in your target language or “Do you want to grab a coffee with me?” No clue? Do your research and when you find it, mark it in your pocket dictionary. At the end of the day, go through your new expressions and words and read them out loud. You’ll be a vocabulary expert in no time!

Final thoughts

With so many fun ways to learn that you have at your disposal, it’d be a shame to stick to boring methods and techniques that simply don’t work for you. 

Why don’t you try something different for a change? Which of our tips did you like the best? Why don’t you try it right now? Choose the best one for you and enjoy the learning journey. Your own personal learning style is there – you just need to find it!


About the author: Andrijana is a marketing manager and a content writer at Justlearn. She speaks English, French and Serbian and enjoys sharing unique tips related to language learning. In her spare time, she likes to binge-watch TV shows, then read about fan theories online. Being a big movie enthusiast, her favorite thing to do is go to the cinema or organize movie nights. She is also very passionate about self-improvement and teaching.

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