First of all – congratulations! You’ve decided to make the effort and start learning your target language and that’s a great decision. Language lessons with a private teacher are a great way to improve your skills quickly and flexibly. But even the most enthusiastic language learner can only have a limited number of lessons per week. That’s why it’s important to keep practicing and improving outside of lessons as well. We’ve put together this guide to help you get an idea of some of the tricks you can use to continue learning even when your teacher is not there.
Although it’s up to you and your teacher to decide on whether and how much you want to do homework outside of lessons, it is a good way to keep refreshing your knowledge and keep acquiring new skills in your target language. Homework might not be anybody’s favourite aspect of language learning, but with a private teacher you get a better say in what you want to focus on and which type of homework you really-really want to avoid. As a last resort, you can always say that the dog ate yours – it’s a known classic for a reason!
Keep Doing What You Enjoy
… but do it in your target language. Do you like reading about world events or watching Game of Thrones? Just keep doing what you love, but switch the language medium to help on your way to fluency. Watch series with subtitles, grab a children’s book that you can easily understand or try cooking some of the native foods from your target language’s country. These are really simple and easy ways that can still make a big difference in improving your skills. The best part is that you’ll still be focusing on spending time doing what you love, so the language learning aspect won’t even seem that scary.
Use the Voice in Your Head
You know that little voice in your head that wonders if you left the kettle on or is thinking about what to cook for dinner? Why don’t you try switching that to the language you’re trying to learn? Although with your inner monologue, there’s nobody to help correct your mistakes, that’s not even the most important part. Especially if you’re just taking your first steps in a new language, it’s much more important to just become comfortable with using it than to be completely, 100% correct. And trying to speak the most basic sentences to yourself is a great way of understanding what you really need more work on.
Pretty much everybody these days spends too much time on social media. Facebook, Instagram, or Reddit seem to be taking up much of everyone’s time, but you can start using that to your advantage. Try switching the settings on those sites to the language you’re trying to improve and see how even scrolling through cat pictures can start to work in your favour.
A great idea is also to keep notes of the things you’ve learned (like new vocabulary, some interesting idioms or slang terms) or what’s confused you (a tricky bit of grammar or some construct that doesn’t seem to make sense) and then go through the list with your teacher in your next lesson. Not only will this help you remember better, your teacher can also offer some insights into the aspects that have confused you. Learning something you understand is definitely a lot easier than trying to simply memorise different rules without getting the context.
Trying a new language can always seem scary, but with work and determination you can start to see results pretty quickly. Just remember that taking lessons with your teacher is a great start, but to truly master a language, you’ll need a lot of extra practice. Keep in mind the tips above and also see our guides for great resources to help your English, German and Spanish to really start seeing some progress.