With winter holidays just around the corner, many of our students are looking forward to a two-week break from tenses, tricky grammar rules and pronunciation struggles—and we can't blame them!
Don't get us wrong: while we pride ourselves on our lessons being more fun than frustrating, everyone needs a break from the classroom now and then, and taking time to rest and recharge often enables students to return to their classes with renewed enthusiasm and a fresh perspective on the learning process.
That doesn't mean the learning has to stop, though. Some language learners worry that extended breaks make a learning plateau, or even a dip, more likely, but taking a break—whether it's for two weeks or two months—can be a great opportunity for students to practice their language skills independently in settings that might be more natural to them than the classroom.
These are our (and our students'!) favourite ways to achieve just that and get some learning in during a hiatus from studying. Any target language practice at all, no matter what form it takes, can only be a good thing, so cue up the Netflix, turn on the subtitles and stop stressing about your progress—you're already killing it!
If you're on holiday, there's a good chance that a few good Netflix marathons are already on your to do list. Turn your lazy, pajamas-clad days into learning opportunities by watching programs in your target language. Many students find it especially helpful to watch TV programs or films they're already familiar with. Subtitles can be useful for catching new vocabulary, especially if you use one of the programs or extensions that have been developed specifically for language learners, like Learning Language with Netflix.
No, you're never going to become fluent using an app alone, but apps like DuoLingo and Memrise can help students learn and remember new vocab without making it feel like work. Many language app users have reported feeling satisfied with their results, which isn't bad from something that doesn't feel any more mentally draining than a game of Candy Crush.
...or anywhere, really. Singing has been shown to improve language retention, even when dealing with a completely unfamiliar language. It's generally accepted that lyrics are easier than other words for most people to remember, which has to do with our emotional response to music, our instinct to sing along and the frequency with which we hear songs we like (and often ones we don't).
Seriously. Studies have shown that using social media can support language acquisition as it allows learners to express themselves in a way that might feel more comfortable than in 'the real world', thus building their confidence. Social media is also a great place to find meetup groups and fellow learners, or those who might be interested in a language practice exchange.
We're generally against telling students to pick up a book to learn a language, but textbooks aside, reading (for fun) can be a great way to pick up new vocabulary and improve your writing and reading comprehension in your target language. Choose a book that you've already read in your mother tongue, or a story you're already familiar with; it makes connecting the dots and making sense of unfamiliar phrases a million times easier!