5 Quick and Simple Language Learning Tips

Let’s face it, as people with busy lives (whether that be school, work or busy napping and watching YouTube) we don’t have time to sit down and study a language every day for the few hours that we should. In our heart of hearts we crave to finally understand that one song, talk to the owner of that one restaurant, travel to that one country – all in another language. The reality is that we don’t always have the time to study in order to reach those goals.

But have no fear! I have five tips that will help you study the language little by little while you are on the go!

1. Change the language settings for your social media.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and any other social media sites and apps, you name it, and you can change the language settings. As we are all adept users of social media, you don’t necessarily have to understand all of the words in the new language, since you’ll be familiar with the site layout already. Additionally, you’ll be able to pick up commonly used vocabulary, since social media is ever-present in our daily lives.

2. Start following people who post in your target language.

When on social media, start following people, pages or groups that post in the language you want to learn. This way you will hopefully see content in that language every time you get on any social media. This strategy can get you accustomed to the format that the language is posted in, the formality of the language used, new vocabulary and maybe even meet people online that you can connect with!

3. Sticky notes. Everywhere.

One tip that I use religiously is to keep a small sticky note stack with me wherever I go. This way when I come across a new word, I can write it down. I place these sticky notes in places where I will see them often, such as the wall in front of my desk, by my bed, on the mirror and on doors that I frequently enter and exit. By placing these sticky notes in spots that I frequent, I have quick access to these words or phrases and can memorize new vocabulary without having to open up a textbook or a notecard app.

4. Change the subtitles or audio for the shows, movies, and videos you watch.

Whether it be Netflix, YouTube videos, or any other platform source you watch media on, look to see if the language you are learning has audio or subtitles provided. This way you can get your daily intake of media that you like while also practicing your desired language.

5. Start trying to think in the language

When I was in Korea I realized that I occasionally began to think in Korean. I kept up this practice when I went back to Hawaii. Whenever I catch myself thinking in English, I try to switch over to Korean. That way, even if you can’t find anyone to talk with, you can still talk in your head. At least it’s better than talking to yourself out loud in public spaces like me!

These fast tips won’t make you fluent overnight, but they can help you little by little! Making language learning a habit has the potential to increase your learning ability and take you one step closer to your language goals.

If you have any quick tips to share, leave them in the comments!


Raquel "Rocky" Reinagel is a MA candidate and graduate assistant in the Department of Second Language Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa; former president of Hanwoori Hawaiʻi; and Co-President of the Second Language Studies Student Association (SLSSA) at UHM