How To Learn A New Language In 2021

Listen to music. Scroll through social media. Watch Netflix.

Matt Lillywhite
Jan 14 · 4 min read
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Photo by Facundo Echegaray on Unsplash

As a kid, I’d often go to France with my family because it didn’t take long to drive there from my British hometown. But whenever we arrived in the country, none of us could speak a word of French.

Sure, we could buy something pretty easily in a bakery. Most people in tourist towns speak (at least) a basic level of English, so it wasn’t difficult to order a baguette or a few croissants. But maybe that was the problem: Everyone could speak English, so we had no incentive to learn French.

That realization hit me faster than the sudden feeling of jetlag after a long transatlantic flight. I was in their country. I was experiencing their culture, food, and music. So surely, it would be a good idea to learn a little bit of their language.

So that’s what I did. Admittedly, I was terrible at first. My pronunciation sucked. I often got the grammar wrong, and people found it difficult to understand me. But as time went by, I made progress to the point in which I can now have a French conversation for 1–2 hours without a problem.

So if you want to learn a new language in 2021, here are several strategies that you can use to make progress. Each of them helped me to learn a new language more efficiently. I’m sure they can help you, too.

When You Scroll Through Social Media, Make It A Productive Learning Experience.

The average person spends approximately 144 minutes on social media per day. Just take a moment to imagine how much progress you’d make in learning a language if every single second of that time was spent learning new vocabulary. Chances are, it would be quite a lot. Right?

Changing the language on your social media profiles is surprisingly pretty easy. And if you adjust the settings on your laptop/smartphone, you can digitally immerse yourself in another language — without having to travel abroad to another region of the world.

Implementing this strategy has made it incredibly easy to familiarize myself with French vocabulary. After all, I’m looking at words & phrases for 5+ hours a day while I’m on my phone and laptop.

If you spend several hours per day on social media, you (probably) know your way around Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and many other social platforms. So learning the vocabulary for “photos,” “videos,” and other frequently used words will be easy.

Have A Dance Party In Your Bedroom.

I’m not ashamed to admit this anymore. A few times per week, I’ll play some music as loud as possible and have a solo dance party in my bedroom. Last night, it was a few tracks by Stromae, which was pretty enjoyable.

If you can learn while doing something you enjoy, it’s much easier to find the motivation to do it frequently. And obviously, listening to the pronunciation of native speakers can massively enhance your ability to learn a new language. Quoting an article published by Fluent In 3 Months:

“Music sticks in your brain — which is why songs are so often used in language classes to help students memorize new words. Most people who enjoy music listen to their favorite songs over and over until they know them by heart. This repetition, accompanied by a catchy tune, is the perfect formula for getting new words and phrases stuck in your brain so you can’t get rid of them.”

One of the easiest ways to find new music is by going onto Spotify and looking at each country’s top charts. For example, if you want to learn French, looking at France’s top 40 songs is certainly a great place to start. Likewise, if you’re going to improve your Spanish, take a look at the charts in Spain, Mexico, or any other Spanish-speaking country.

Watch Netflix To Your Heart’s Content.

I’m not joking. Watching Netflix can be incredibly productive if you want to learn a new language. After all, there are thousands of hours worth of content in almost every language. Quoting an article published by FluentU:

“Since movies are intended for native speakers, the language used generally reflects authentic speech. Sometimes, historical or fantasy films might not be accurate reflections of current speech norms, but most contemporary movies use common language that people who watch the film also use. By listening to authentic, native speech, you’re more likely to be able to understand actual speech in context.”

I watched a French movie a few nights ago called “Le Chant Du Loup” (The Wolf’s Call). It’s undoubtedly one of the best films I’ve watched in a long time. And since I was paying a lot of attention to it, learning a bit of French vocabulary was pretty easy.

Go onto Netflix and find various movies or tv shows in whatever language you want to learn. Then, all you need to do is pay close attention to the speech and vocabulary while enjoying a little bit of entertainment.

Adjust the settings on your devices to make scrolling through social media a productive learning experience. Have a dance party in your bedroom. Watch TV shows and movies to your heart’s content.

When you genuinely enjoy the process of learning something new, it’s much easier to do it consistently. So what are you waiting for?

Start now.

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