by Maria Rainier
Enrolling in a formal online or traditional college course to learn a language is highly recommended, but the formality of it all and the presence of a professor may just intimate you from truly practicing the language like you need too. If you're a tad bit shy or would just prefer a more entertaining way to supplement your language course outside of the classroom, there are a few "fun" ways you can do so. For a few suggestions, continue reading below.
One of the easiest ways to pick up a language and get a better feel for how words are supposed to be pronounced (as well as pick up a few informal, slang terms so that you sound more like a natural when speaking the language) is to listen to music. After all, that's how famous Colombian singer Shakira claims she learned English. If you're trying to learn Spanish for example, there are typically several local radio stations that you can tune-in to. If you're trying to learn French or Chinese of example, radio stations are harder to come by but not impossible. You can definitely scour some of the international radio stations featured on iTunes and well as use other internet radio sites like Pandora to hone in on a foreign-singing artist like Edith Piaf (if you're trying to learn French). Then you can go back and try to print out the lyrics and decipher the meaning of the song as well.
Watching movies and soap operas in your language-of-choice is also another excellent way you can learn. In a way, watching foreign movies and soap operas is better than music only because you can read body language and watch scenes, which can help you understand what's going on. Most movies and TV shows also let you see English subtitles or captions, so in case you're really get stuck on a word or the characters speak too quickly you should be able to still understand.
Another fun way to learn a language outside of the classroom is to "study" menus in the language of your choice. Most menus can be found online or at an "authentic" restaurant in your area. You should also practice ordering your food in the foreign language as well, after all practice makes perfect.
Last but certainly not least, changing the language settings on your cell phone can really intensify your learning experience too. The symbols are all the same you know more or less how to answer phone calls and send text messages, but since you're forced to see the words for the terms everyday you'll learn how to spell and say those words in the appropriate language at a much quicker rate.
Maria Rainier is an education freelance writer for onlinedegrees.org, a site that specializes in all-things education. She encourages your comments.