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5 ways to learn a foreign language, fast!

It's no secret that when it comes to speaking other languages, the British aren't exactly leading the pack. In fact even our teenagers who receive lessons at school are the worst in Europe at speaking other languages

Although you might think you'll never need to use it, being bilingual can come in handy. It can help you find a new job, make new friends and navigate yourself around new and exciting places. Research has shown it can even help in delaying the onset of dementia.

It doesn't need to take a lifetime either and you can pick up some basic vocabulary without too much disruption to your daily routine.

1 – Watch movies

How many of us switch off at the end of the day by watching a film or a TV show?  One way that you can pick up some foreign lingo is by watching an international movie.  With subtitles switched on you can read exactly what the words mean and learn how words are pronounced. If you are watching the film on a streaming service or on DVD then you will also be able to pause and rewind sections so you don't miss anything.  Of course, no matter how much you might hope you become fluent in French by watching the whole of 'Amelie' with a bag of Malteasers, it's probably not going to happen.  To get the most out of watching international movies you really have to study them and that means taking notes, repeating sections and even trying to mimic the movies dialogue.

2 – Read children's books

The dialogue in movies and TV shows is likely to be quite complex, so if you are just starting out then you should try and get hold of some children's books, especially those with drawings and illustrations which can help you get some basic understanding.

3 – Use apps

Language doesn't change all that much but technology does and learning a language has become a lot easier in recent years. There are a wide variety of apps which can help you develop your language skills, such as Duolingo. Duolingo is an ad-free mobile app which teaches you either French, Spanish, German and Italian using a mixture of multiple choice questions, picture games and speech recognition software.  Other popular apps include Busuu and Memrise.

4 – Listen to music and podcasts

Another good way to get a grip on which ever language it is you are trying to learn is to immerse yourself in the culture.  To do this you need to be regularly looking at news articles and books but also listening to podcasts, radio shows and music. You'll be surprised at how quickly you begin recognising words. It will also help with your pronunciation, something which you'll struggle to pick up from books alone.

5 – Practice makes perfect

Becoming proficient in another language isn't particularly easy but if you dedicate just a small amount of time each day to one of these tasks then you should start to pick up the basics. Here are some further tips to help you in your quest for dual linguistics:

  • Stick post it notes on items around the house with the translation written on, for example ''caffè" on your coffee pot.
  • Once you feel confident try switching the language on your TV, phone or tablet
  • Applying your language skills to everyday life is the best way to learn, so try your new skills out on your friends and family or if you're feeling adventurous try a website like WeSpeke, which pairs you up with a foreign partner to simultaneously improve each other's language skills.

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