14 Fun Methods to Practice Languages Online and Turn Study Time into Play Time
When it comes to language learning, having fun while learning does as much for your education as it does for your spirits.
After all, the more fun studying is, the more often you’ll do it.
Aside from being more interactive and engaging, practicing languages online is a great way to find the type of practice you enjoy.
So grab your laptop and get some active learning in with these 14 fun ways to practice languages online.
- How Do You Make Language Practice Fun?
- 14 Fun, Painless Ways to Practice Languages Online
- Instagram it up
- Find a language exchange partner
- Use Language Learning Apps and Websites
- Binge TV and movies
- Follow an authentic vlogger
- Read popular blogs
- Stream music
- Play a game
- Delve into world knowledge with Wikipedia
- Enjoy an international edition of BuzzFeed
- Volunteer using your target language
- Read foreign editions of familiar magazines
- Plan a vacation in your target language
- Read a book
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How Do You Make Language Practice Fun?
First and foremost, choose activities you enjoy. Just because someone else thinks an activity’s fun doesn’t mean you will. Try different activities until you find one you truly enjoy.
It’s also important to vary your activities. Doing the same thing can get boring even if it’s fun. You don’t see people binging on cake everyday, do you? That’s why it’s important to vary your activities. Maybe throw in an occasional pie or tart. If you vary your activities, you’re less likely to get tired of them. Plus, using varied activities will result in a more well-rounded language practice.
Finally, when you’re no longer having fun, switch activities. Even activities that start out fun can get boring after a while. When you no longer enjoy an activity, don’t hesitate to cut and run. There are plenty of fun activities out there, so there’s no need to linger on one that’s not fun anymore.
14 Fun, Painless Ways to Practice Languages Online
Instagram it up
If you’re a social media maven, there’s nothing quite like Instagram for fun, easy language learning.
To use Instagram for language learning, you can set up a separate account and post in your target language. Over time, you may get followers who also speak that language. Follow them back or interact with them to pile up the language learning.
While you can start a new account for your target language, using your main account is a clever way to sneak in some language learning without even having to set any time aside for it. Just follow some Instagramers who use your target language. When you check Instagram for fun, you’ll wind up reading in your target language just by glancing at posts by users you follow.
Another benefit of using Instagram to practice your language skills is that Instagram is primarily visual with only short text. It’ll never be daunting to read since it’s so brief.
Who to follow is based entirely on your interests. For instance, beginning language learners might follow accounts designed specifically for language students. To find one, search hashtags like #learnArabic, #learnChinese, #learnFrench, etc. If you’re a foodie, you might find food accounts by searching for #recipes in your target language (for example, #وصفات, #食谱, #recetas). Love TV and movies? Follow your favorite stars to learn more about international celebrity lifestyles (and the global nature of sponsored posts) as you brush up on your language skills.
If you’re a fan of social media, you can try the same tricks with Twitter or Facebook. For that matter, if you can’t get enough of Pinterest or LinkedIn, you could even look for authentic language content there!
Find a language exchange partner
Finding a language exchange partner is an enjoyable way to get conversational practice and make a new friend.
The idea behind language exchange partners is that your partner lets you practice speaking in your target language. In exchange, you give your partner speaking practice in your native language. Not only does this help you build your language skills, it helps you connect with a native speaker, an invaluable source of language and cultural information.
Plus, it’s fun to make friends! You can talk about whatever you like, so your language practice can be just as fun as a casual chat with a good friend.
Maybe you already know someone who speaks your target language who you could partner with. If not, there are plenty of online resources out there to help. For instance, you might try italki, MyLanguageExchange.com or Verbling.
Many online language exchange websites also offer video or text service to help you interact with your partner. If not, you can try using Skype to connect with your partner online.
Use Language Learning Apps and Websites
Online language learning programs are a great way to pack a lot of learning into your downtime.
Duolingo, Babbel, FluentU, and other programs have websites and apps that can help you increase your knowledge without it feeling like a chore.
Some, like Duolingo, offer a more “gamified” experience to make learning feel more fun and energetic, and others focus more on videos and bite-sized lessons that are long enough to make you feel like you accomplished something, but not so long that you get bored.
FluentU, in particular, offers a “learn mode” that transforms videos, pictures, and example sentences into flashcards and exercises you can use for an engaging, authentic learning experience, as well as a whole library of content created by native and fluent speakers of your target language.
Binge TV and movies
Binging TV and watching movies are undeniably fun activities. After all, how else would your couch have developed such a perfectly human-shaped groove? But enjoying TV and movies can also be one of the funnest ways to practice a language.
While you can download content or buy DVDs, using a streaming service is the easiest way to have a lot of foreign language content at the tip of your fingers.
Netflix is one top streaming choice. It offers an abundance of options in most popular languages. Plus, Netflix is even producing its own original foreign language content that you can’t get anywhere else, like the popular Spanish series “Las chicas del cable” (“Cable Girls”). If you already subscribe to Amazon Prime, you also have access to some free foreign language programming via Amazon Prime Video. To browse, look at the sections for “foreign TV” or “foreign movies.” Hulu also has some options for language learners.
To get the most out of your viewing, try experimenting with subtitles. If you can understand what you’re watching without subtitles, that’s great! If not, you might try using subtitles in your target language to read along as you watch. Still too overwhelming? Use English-language subtitles to give you a clearer idea of what’s happening. Regardless of your subtitling choice, you’ll still learn a lot of great words and work in some fun listening practice.
Follow an authentic vlogger
It’s easy to learn a language on YouTube. After all, there’s a seemingly limitless supply of content in any language you might be learning, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
You can harness the power of YouTube to practice a language by following vloggers who use your target language. Whenever your favorite vlogger posts a new video, just watch and enjoy to get a little language practice. If you want to up the learning ante, you might even try interacting with other viewers in the comments section.
To find your next favorite authentic vlogger, try searching terms in your target language. For instance, try searching “beauty tips” in your target language to find beauty vloggers.
You can also use a tool like Channel Crawler to search YouTube channels by language. If you’re interested in a particular regional dialect, you might also filter by country. If you want to see which YouTube channels are most popular, you can sort them by number of subscribers to see what other people are watching.
Read popular blogs
Improve your reading skills as you learn more about your favorite topics by reading popular blogs in your target language.
You might be familiar with English-language blogs covering your favorite topics like food, exercise, sports or virtually any topic you can think of. But there are blogs on the same topics in your target language!
Reading a blog in your target language is an easy way to practice thematic vocabulary related to the topic. Plus, it’s easy to do. If you follow a blog that updates regularly, it’s like a built-in reminder to do a little reading practice.
To find your new favorite blog, search for “blog” and any topic you’re interested in using your target language. For instance, if you want to read about fashion as you study French, search “blog de mode” (“blog of fashion”). You might find fun options like La Penderie de Chloe (The Wardrobe of Chloe). More interested in improving your Italian cooking? Try Il Fatto Alimentare (The Food Fact).
If you want to tap your toes to the rhythm of learning, try learning a language with music.
Thanks to the internet, you have easy access to tons of music in your target language, and that music’s just as catchy as your favorite English-language songs.
Popular services like Spotify and iHeartRadio offer some international fare that will fit the bill.
Online radio is another fun, easy option. Services like AccuRadio offer a nice array of world music, while free online services like TuneIn let you filter by language and/or country.
To get the most out of listening to your favorite foreign language music, try to look up words you’re unfamiliar with and listen to your favorite songs frequently. Eventually, you’ll have the song memorized, making it easy to remember any words the song uses.
Play a game
You can satiate you fun side, your competitive side and your language learning side all with one thing: Playing games.
Playing games is super fun, and you can even use it as a break during your regular study sessions. That way, you can keep learning without feeling like it takes any effort.
To find online games, search “free games” in your target language for some online options. For instance, Spanish students might enjoy Juegos.com.
Most games don’t lean too heavily on language, but invariably, there will be a few words in your target language. This ensures that playing games isn’t too intimidating even for beginning students.
If you want a little more language, though, you can also find multiplayer games. To do so, try searching “multiplayer games” in your target language. For instance, Italian students might like Giochi di Multiplayer (Multiplayer Games). Multiplayer games often offer chat with other players.
Word games provide another good way to study basic spelling and vocabulary rules in your target language. Many word games are targeted at language learners, so you can find them by searching the name of your target language and “word game” or “vocabulary game.” For instance, Russian for Everyone offers lots of fun language games.
Delve into world knowledge with Wikipedia
Ever fallen into a Wikihole? Sometimes, it’s hard not to. You open one page you’re interested in and soon you’re flipping through 20 tabs of related content.
Thankfully, there are lots of versions of Wikipedia in different languages. The next time you want to look up something on Wikipedia, try doing it in your target language. Not only will you get the information you need, you’ll also get some language practice. Plus, you might soon find yourself spiraling into an uncontrolled learning binge.
Since Wikipedia’s user-generated, it’s important to remember that it won’t always be accurate. However, if you see something that isn’t accurate or want to contribute additional material, you can also practice your language skills by contributing content yourself!
Enjoy an international edition of BuzzFeed
You need to know what your choice in furnishings says about your love life. You can’t resist finding out what your Zodiac sign is based on your choice in avocado toast. And obviously, who can resist cat pictures?
Normally, BuzzFeed is a hub of viral, compulsively-shareable content. However, you can also use BuzzFeed to make your language learning go viral. That’s because in addition to a U.S. edition, BuzzFeed has a number of international editions in foreign languages. French students can read BuzzFeed France, German students can enjoy BuzzFeed Deutschland, Japanese learners can read BuzzFeed Japan, Portuguese students might like BuzzFeed Brasil and Spanish students can choose between BuzzFeed España, BuzzFeed en español and BuzzFeed México.
To use BuzzFeed to practice your language skills, all you have to do is choose which articles interest you. You might even set a specific goal, like reading two articles a day. Read whatever you can. If you have trouble, you can also look up unfamiliar words to help build your vocabulary.
Volunteer using your target language
Do you want to help people while practicing your language skills? Volunteer using your target language!
You don’t even have to go abroad to use your language skills to volunteer. In fact, you don’t even have to get off the couch. There are volunteer opportunities you can do from the comfort of your own home.
For instance, you might try reading for LibriVox. LibriVox offers free public domain audiobooks in a wide variety of languages. However, in order to do this, they need volunteer readers. If you’ve reached a point in your studies where your reading and speaking skills are strong, volunteering for LibriVox might be just the boost you need to get to the next level.
If you prefer something else, you can search for volunteer opportunities with Idealist. You can filter by “remote” to find opportunities you can do from home. Then, search for your target language to see what volunteer experience is right for you.
Not only will it feel good to help people, it might also increase you motivation to continue improving your language skills.
Read foreign editions of familiar magazines
Foreign language magazines are more than just a fun read—they’re also a fun learning tool.
Many popular magazines you’re familiar with have international editions in foreign languages. This makes it easy to find a magazine you’ll be interested in and helps you know what to anticipate.
For instance, National Geographic is available in a wide array of languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Castilian Spanish and Latin American Spanish.
Online editions often offer free articles, and new articles are added regularly.
To get the most out of reading foreign language magazines, you might also base your selection on what thematic vocabulary you want to work on. For instance, if you want to learn more food terms, you might try a cooking magazine. Then, try to read articles regularly to practice your reading and improve your vocabulary.
Plan a vacation in your target language
Travel can motivate you to improve your language skills, but travel planning in your target language can actually help you practice your language skills for a one-two punch of motivation and learning.
There are travel websites in virtually any language you can imagine, so the next time you want to plan a vacation, try doing it in your target language. For instance, Lonely Planet offers websites in a number of different languages, including French, German and Spanish. This has the added benefit of helping you learn travel-related vocabulary that you may need on your next adventure.
Read a book
Bookworms rejoice! Reading a book is a terrific way to practice your language skills, and you can do it entirely online.
Sure, you can download books through Amazon or virtually any other book seller, but you can also find books for free. Your local library may have ebooks available in your target language that you can check out. There’s also Project Gutenberg, which offers free online books in a number of different languages. Plus, since many works appear in several languages, you could even have the English version open alongside the foreign language version so that you can quickly check back if you don’t understand something.
For a little extra help, you might also keep your favorite dictionary open in another tab to look up any words you don’t know.
When it comes to fun ways to learn a language, you’re only limited by your own imagination. Be on the lookout for even more fun ways for practicing your target language!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)