Learning a new language in lockdown

by Anita Naik

Living in lockdown has led many of us to learn new skills. Learning a language is at the top of many people's lists, and it's easier than you may think. Whether you are a complete beginner, trying to improve your language skills, or honing your skills for future GCSEs and work, now is a perfect time to learn to begin.

Learning for pleasure

Learning a language when you have extra time on your hands opens up new frontiers. It lets you access and appreciate new cultures and will give you opportunities and a sense of achievement. So whether you need a language for work, or you are planning to brush up on a language you have studied before or even start as a pure beginner now is a great time to give it a go.

What to learn

The world is your oyster when it comes to choosing a language to learn. However, you are always better selecting a language that you have a vested interest in, as this will motivate you to study. So if you want to live in another country one day, do factor that in. If you intend to visit somewhere you've always wanted to go that could help you choose too. If you're not sure what to study, currently Spanish Mandarin, Arabic, French and German are the top languages studied in the UK.

What are the benefits?

There is a multitude of benefits to learning a new language. For starters, it boosts your brainpower, as you will need to learn a whole new intricate system of rules. A new language makes you more conscious of the nuts and bolts of English as you focus on grammar, vocabulary and how languages work. It will also boost your listening skills, your cognitive skills and your general confidence with speaking aloud.

How to do it?

Choose a learning method that works to your strengths. This could be a language app like Babbel or an online course. Or you could use a language tutor, as this will help improve your vocabulary, pronunciation and understanding of the language you are studying.

To speed up the learning process, watch foreign language films, TV shows and audiobooks in the language you have chosen. Exposure to these will help you to formulate sentences in your head and make sense of what others are saying, thereby improving your spoken and listening skills. For instance, if you are learning Spanish, watch Spanish TV shows, or listen to a Spanish novel on Audible.

Also, try to join language groups on Facebook with other students, as this is an ideal way to practice your spoken skills and improve them.

Studying for GCSEs

Language GCSEs is a different workload to learning for pleasure. This is because the language GCSEs are designed to test your understanding, so study for this should be more in-depth than general learning. The focus here needs to be on reading, writing, listening and speaking in a variety of situations. One of the best ways to prepare for the listening exam is to use past papers from your examining board that are linked audio files so you can see what comes up and why.

Use First Tutors Languages

First Tutors: Languages allows you to find the right language teacher for you, no matter where you are in the UK. Our search tool filters tutors by qualifications, experience and customer feedback ratings. You can find any level of tutor no matter what your needs or why you are learning a language.