One of my passions in life is languages. I find it fascinating how your mother tongue can shape the way you think and how mind opening it can be learning a new language. For that reason, over the last years, I have been taking language courses and experimenting with many tools that could help me learn and improve my foreign language skills. At this point, I speak 4 languages – Portuguese, English, Italian and French – but I intend to keep learning.
As going on Erasmus (or going abroad in general) also requires learning a new language, I thought it would be interesting to share with you some of my favourite tools to learn languages.
Speak is a project whose goal is to bring together newcomers and locals living in the same city through community-led language groups and cultural exchange events.
I used to volunteer for this project by teaching Portuguese and organizing cultural events. Because of that I also had the chance of meeting many people from different parts of the world while learning and practising my language skills.
All of their activities used to be face to face but due to COVID they are offering online language groups experiences. They divide their groups into two levels: basic (for the one who knows nothing or almost nothing) and conversational (for people who already know something but still wanna improve their knowledge).
If you have some free time and enjoy sharing your language and culture, you may also volunteer to lead a group. Don’t worry if you’ve never done it before because they offer you some training. 🙂
These are the most popular apps to learn languages and a very easy way to learn some vocabulary anywhere. But don’t expect to learn the structure of the language or grammar. For that, you better buy a book and take courses. I believe these apps/websites work very well as a complement to other things like formal courses or language groups (like SPEAK).
I used to use Memrise but recently I tried Duolingo for the first time and I also enjoyed it a lot. In terms of graphics and esthetical appealing Duolingo is better (which might give you that extra motivation), but Memrise has more content.
Just a tip for people who wanna learn European Portuguese: it’s available on Memrise!
I have some friends who love podcasts and I never understood why before I started doing that myself.
It’s just a very simple way of learning new information while doing something else. And right now there are so many podcasts about so many different topics that you can literally learn about any topic, including languages.
I have been listening to some Spanish Duolingo Podcasts while I clean my room or organise my drawers. It’s a simple way of optimising your time!
4. FACE TO FACE COURSES
This is still my favourite of all!
The hardest thing about learning something like a language is that you need to keep a routine otherwise you are permanently learning and unlearning. That’s what happens to me any time I decide I can learn a language just by myself. I never fell like I evolve because as I don’t have anyone demanding some work from me, I end up not doing much.
When I enrol in some classes instead I have a schedule that I need to follow and I have homework. Plus, I also have to study for some tests and this helps me to solidify some of the content I’ve learned.
I dunno about your home University, but if you’re a student at the University of Coimbra you can take some language courses at the end of the day for a very fair price. Last time I checked 1 semester costed 160€ (for 4h/week).
If you’re an Erasmus student at the University of Coimbra (and I said student, not trainee), you may also enrol in Portuguese courses for free, as long as you add it to your Learning Agreement.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Don’t forget that, if you go abroad under de Erasmus programme, you’ll also have access to the OLS platform to learn the local language / the language you will work with.