In an ever-globalizing world where business and culture crosses border in the blink of an eye it helps to know your way around the culture and language of the people you’d like to do business with.
Even if you aren’t trying to do business, there is a world of rich culture you can have access to by speaking another language. Books, films, music and more opens up to you beyond your own horizons.
The problem is that learning a second or third language is hard. It takes a lot of time and if you try to do it on your own you face all sorts of challenges. So here are a few innovative yet practical ways you can learn a new language today.
Chat with a Native
The number 1 way to become fluent and proficient in a new language is to speak to a native. Yes, this is obvious, but it’s not exactly easy to find a native person in your chosen language. Well that’s not really true anymore. Companies are jumping on the chance to connect language teachers with learners all over the world via the internet.
Chinese, for example, is notoriously difficult for Western learner. Luckily a website like Preply.com will hook you up with a Chinese teacher quickly and easily.
Switch On YouTube Captions
We all love watching YouTube. Mostly to watch people fail at things, but still it’s a super-popular website.
What a lot of English-speaking people don’t realize is that YouTube is filled with content from every other language you can imagine. So you can watch a newscast in something like German and then switch on closed captions to see an English translation.
Even cooler than this is the fact that you can see captions of videos you already know well in a whole bunch of other languages. Just set the closed caption of an English video to another language and you’re all set.
Try Google Translate
Machine translation is still far from perfect, but it’s actually very good these days. For example, you can get live translations of Skype calls while you speak. Which is just amazing.
Tools like Google Translate can be a great way to learn the different aspects of a new language. You can even hear the pronunciation of phrases using Google’s excellent text to speech system.
Just Watch YouTube!
Apart from the indirect ways you can use YouTube to learn a new language, you can also just watch hundreds of hours of amateur language learning material on the site. There are plenty of native speakers who have taken the time to teach anyone willing to watch about their language and culture. All for free!
Of course, this is not a substitute for actual conversations with an actual native speaker, but it’s a great way to fill in the times between your more formal interactions. It also means you get access to more real and raw representations of the language and culture you want to be immersed in. Not a sanitized “TV” version of it.
A Brave New World
Despite some people feeling a little skeptical, it turns out that the internet really can help us learn. There’s no reason anymore to shy away from the fulfilling challenge of adopting a tongue you were not born into. It turns us into better people with more empathy for other humans on planet earth.
Who knows, you may even decide to live in another country one day. A new language can change our lives in many ways, so why not start today?
Image is Public Domain via Pixabay