5 Tips for Learning a Second Language as an Adult

Learning a second language as an adult has immense benefits, and that’s no secret. Aside from expanding your cultural awareness, possible business connections, and use of memory, it has also been proven to delay the onset of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. Amazing!


Now, if you feel committed to learning a second language as an adult, you are probably wondering “okay, where do I start?” That’s why we’re here to give you the top 5 tips for making the language learning process easier, and perhaps more fun, for you.


1. Download language learning apps


Language learning apps, some paid and some free, are all over the market today. From Duolingo to Babbel, there is one to cover whichever language (or, perhaps, languages) you are interested in learning. Keep in mind, though, that these apps are sometimes just supplemental to your current learning journey, or meant to be a start for your journey; be sure to use them in conjunction with other learning approaches in order to maximize the practice of your second language.


2. Watch some foreign TV


Even if you’re just beginning to learn your second language or don’t feel you have a good grasp on it yet, you can still practice your listening skills by watching some foreign TV programming or movies. You can find channels broadcast in Spanish on many Satellite and cable providers in the U.S., and hundreds of others in multiple languages broadcasted online, like Rai for Italian language programming. You can sometimes turn on English captions at first, but use them sparingly so you can focus on hearing the other language. When watching shows and movies, you can often understand what is being said by the context of setting and body language, even if you don’t understand the words exactly.


3. Listen to native speakers


You can also hear native speakers of the language you are learning through audio-based programming, such as through podcasts, or even through music and radio. It’s important to remember that native speakers will speak quickly through these forms because they are made for other native speakers to listen to, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t catch everything that is said.


4. Pick up a book in your second language


Once you have a good foundation of understanding built in your second language, try reading a book in that language. If you want to make this a little easier on yourself, try reading a translation of a book you are already familiar with in English. If you’re looking for a challenge, pick up a book written in your second language that you’ve never heard of before.


5.Practice conversations


Maybe most importantly, you need to find a way to put what you learn into practice. Of course, though, this doesn’t mean you need to book a flight to Russia just to practice speaking Russian. There are lots of ways to practice your second languages, such as by:

  • Talking to yourself: It may sound silly, but practicing both sides of a conversation by yourself can improve your speaking skills and confidence in your second language. You can also consider writing down a conversation as you practice it so you can practice your writing skills at the same time.
  • Conversing online: There are a lot of online services that allow you to speak with a native speaker of the language you are learning, such as TalkAbroad. This often comes with fees, but they can be really worth it.
  • Joining a class: If you are not already enrolled in a class for your second language, consider joining one. Of course, these can become expensive, but many community colleges offer them for all adults, not just current college students.


Try one or a combination of these options, and your second language comprehension will skyrocket!