What is one of the biggest issues when learning a language as an adult? Easy: finding the time to study.
But what is the thing you probably do the most during your day? Check your smartphone. So why don’t you use your phone to practice languages? It could be a great opportunity to improve some of your skills without hassle.
This idea came to me the other night when sitting on the sofa with a movie on TV, I couldn’t stop checking updates on my phone. Despite trying to cure this terrible habit, I thought that maybe I should try seeing the phone as a tool to be used for our language learning goals.
Let’s see what I came up with.
1 – Change the language of your phone
This is probably the tip you have heard the most when looking for suggestions on how to practice languages on a daily basis. Well, this is because it is one of the simplest yet most useful things to do. By changing the language of your phone, you’ll be confronted with your target language hundreds of times a day, without even realizing it. Probably you won’t learn that many words, but those you’ll see every day will remain stuck in your head without even needing to studying them.
2 – Use Google Maps in your own target language
This is another super useful thing to do, which will give you the opportunity of improving your comprehension skills. If you are not fluent in the language, I recommend you do it only for trips you already know quite well – I do not want to be the cause of an accident or of you getting lost because you didn’t understand your Gps. However, if you are familiar with the road you are driving on, why don’t you turn your Gps on and just listen to it? In such a way, all the vocabulary related to giving and asking for directions won’t have secrets anymore!
3 – Use Siri – if you are an iPhone user – to improve your speaking (and listening) skills
If you have an iPhone, you have the great opportunity of using Siri as your language assistant. You can change the language of your Siri and ask her questions in your target language. See if she understands what you say and if you understand what she replies, it’s a great way to work on speaking and listening skills. Moreover, Siri’s replies are written on the screen, so it’s great to work on reading as well.
4 – Use an app to practice vocabulary
This is something you can do while you wait for the bus or at the doctor’s office, instead of checking Facebook or playing some games on your phone. If you look into the Apple or Google Play Store, you’ll find hundreds of apps that can help you learn vocabulary with some simple quizzes, flashcards, and other simple exercises: this will give you the opportunity of turning a boring moment into a perfect time to learn something new. Even five minutes a day are useful!
5 – Use HelloTalk to chat and text with a native speaker
This is a great tool to improve your speaking and communication skills. HelloTalk, for example, gives you the opportunity of chatting with a native speaker and therefore get better at using the language in a social environment. If you do not feel like speaking, HelloTalk gives you the opportunity of exchanging text messages with other people and therefore improve your writing skills as well.
6 – Download a podcast
Stuck in traffic? Long commute home? An overseas flight? You can use such time to listen to a podcast. I am a great fan of podcasts and I use them to improve my English listening skills. When I know that I have a lot of time on my side, like when I have to fly or be on the train for at least a couple of hours, I download some of my favorite podcasts in advance. If you are particularly fluent in the language, you can not just use the podcasts for language learners but also radio programs as well.
7 – Follow Instagram Stories of people you like or make your own Stories in your target language
Once just a photo app, Instagram is now getting a perfect tool to learn languages. After the introduction of Stories, a feature that gives you the opportunity of sharing videos and photos, and the more recent addition of Instagram Live, the chance of making live videos, you can use the app to practice your listening and comprehension skills. You can follow language teachers or just people you like or even celebrities: everybody is making lots of videos these days and they are a great way to listen to the real language which is spoken daily.
I hope you found these tips useful. If you are interested in more ways of incorporating language learning in your daily life, you can check some of my other blog posts: one about practicing your reading skills and another one regarding building vocabulary.
By the way, how do you practice languages on a daily basis? I’d love to know!
If you are interested in improving your Italian language skills, I’d suggest you check Chiacchieriamo, your way of chatting with an Italian without moving from home.
Chiacchieriamo is a Skype chat that helps you practice your Italian with a native speaker, gaining the confidence you need when speaking the language.
If you want to give it a try, you can request a 30-minute free chat, so that we can meet each other and see if you like the service.