The number one thing that has helped me with language learning?
I don’t always have the desire to talk to myself in the mirror to practice French.
Honestly, I have PLENTY of awesome podcasts/music in my L1 that I don’t always want to sacrifice in order to practice my L2.
So what do I do? I read. It’s the handiest way to get a quick brush up on my language knowledge.
The greatest thing about reading? It’s autodidactic. You are your own teacher. You choose what you want to learn, what you want to absorb, what you want to look up. It’s the most practical teaching tool in the world.
But only if you want it to be. If you hate reading, try it once. See what it feels like and, if it’s not for you, you’ll find better ways to learn. Methods that you’ll actually stick to. Go with that! If you’re mildly interested, then dive deep into it.
Find something you’re TRULY interested in… whether that be a Harry Potter book translated into German or a children’s book meant for native speakers. The only way you’re going to get 100% of the results is if you get 100% enjoyment out of it.
Don’t worry about the level of it. If you WANT to read it, you will. Or you might misunderstand a lot of it… who cares?? Are you being quizzed on it? No. Are you making progress? FOR SURE! Besides, you’re at least working on your creativity while you’re at it.
Don’t worry about length. If you finish a 1 page short story, you’re going to be so proud of yourself and excited to jump into another one. Congrats, you just created an addiction! If it’s a thousand page novel, you’ll finish what you finish and move on whenever you’ve lost the spark to keep going. It happens to all of us. For every book I finish, there’s at least 10 discarded ones. The only effort you should put into this is your committment to search for pleasure and satisfaction.
I’ve started including 10 minutes of self-selected reading time into my classes and it’s made a world of difference. When they read, I read and we all go into a deep silent trance together. I can feel the language soaking into their brains! My students will ask me to read for longer because it’s just so darn nice to actually sit there and learn a language without even noticing it. On days we don’t read, I feel like I’ve ruined their entire day. I can see protest signs being made very soon to have on hand during those days.
What’s even better is that .. I get to read! Usually I leave it for the end of the day to relax which usually ends up with me watching Netflix instead or falling asleep after page 1. But by using reading as my little language gloss that I get to reapply conveniently every hour or so for a few minutes then I do two great deeds at once.
It’s a game-changer!
Ps: I'm trying to get a new French book.... any suggestions?? For Spanish readers, I recommend El Alquimista... facil pero con un buen mensaje!