Learning a language can be tricky, frustrating, and even outright impossible at times. Determining the most effective way to learn a new language can feel like a tall order.
With so much information available on the best practices for language learning, it can be challenging to choose which strategies will be most beneficial to you.
If you’re curious or confused about the ways we can learn new languages, keep reading! In this article, I will be answering five unique language learning questions and myths.
Can You Learn a Language by Watching Movies?
The short answer is yes. If handled properly, watching foreign-language films can help us in learning a new language.
Here are some ways that movies can help while learning a language:
- Familiarization with native speech: Movies are made mainly for native speakers, meaning that the terminology used is based on real-life conversations. We have a better chance of understanding actual speech in context if we listen to genuine, native communication.
- Putting vocabulary in context: To grasp what’s going on, we won’t have to rely solely on words. We can often interpret what’s going on with visual cues, such as character body language, whenever we don’t know a term. There are many films and shows you will broadly understand what’s going on even if the sound is off. Watching the movie in a new language will allow you to understand and learn what is being said.
- Entertaining and engaging: Since movies are so good at holding our attention, we can absorb a lot of knowledge from them. People often find the process of learning to be tedious and uninteresting. Still, movies increase language proficiency without the process feeling like a chore!
As you can see, passively watching a movie in the language you want to learn can help you get a better grasp of this language. It alone is not the best way to learn to speak the language that interests you, but it can be a great way to supplement your education.
Also, you have to realize that attempting to learn a language in this manner takes a long time!
You will need to watch A LOT of movies, and some of them multiple times before you see much progress. There is also no guarantee that you will end up learning the language properly.
There are plenty of movies in any language that has characters in it that speak their language poorly. This is done for artistic and character developmental reasons. How a character talks shows a lot about them. For example, their education level, how polite they are, etc.
It could be that you are learning how to speak in a manner that is not appropriate through the movies you end up watching.
Taking different courses and using apps is a more active way of learning a language. However, this does not mean that you cannot still pick up on many things through watching movies in the language you would like to learn.
Films can do a lot when it comes to language learning!
Recommended Reading: Is self-learning hard? (Everything you need to know)
Can You Learn a Language by Watching TV?
Just like watching movies, TV can also help us learn a language.
According to studies, language learners who watch foreign-language TV shows outside the classroom are better at listening, reading, and vocabulary.
Personally, some of my cousins learned a second language primarily through watching movies and tv shows. They are a bit younger, which apparently allows you to pick up languages quicker.
Still, this doesn’t take away from the fact that they now are fluent in multiple languages.
I asked them about the process they used, and they credited simply watching a lot of their favorite shows on Netflix in the original language (English as their mother tongue is Dutch).
While research suggests that watching television shows can help people learn a language, it is not for everyone. It can be challenging to comprehend and enjoy at first.
Although my cousins did not do any of this, here are a few extra steps you can take to help with learning a new language through TV shows and movies:
- Choose shows that that have subtitles.
The idea is to ensure that your choice has quality subtitles in both your native and target languages. You should also pick one that you are familiar with or that covers a topic that interests you.
- Break the story down into sections by watching it.
When you initially watch the show, you have two objectives:
- Learn about the plot and the characters.
- Split the show into sections.
Make a list of time cues for the story’s brief sections. You want scenes that are five to 10 minutes long and independent from the plot.
- Take note of new phrases and words.
For your subsequent viewings of the show, you’ll be studying it. Only watch the first section for this session and switch the foreign language subtitles on.
Make a list of any unfamiliar terms or expressions. Pay special attention to words and phrases that appear essential to the plot or are used frequently.
Because the show has subtitles, you can conveniently pause it to jot down words and expressions, which you can then check in your dictionary. In each section, try to gather up to 20 new terms and phrases.
- Examine what you’ve learned.
You’ll be very familiar with this section of the show after a few viewings. Remove the subtitles to check how much you can comprehend without them. You don’t have to understand everything, but you should be able to catch the essence of what’s being said.
TV shows may teach you about culture, language, and pronunciation if you are willing to study and put in the effort. However, you shouldn’t rely just on television to achieve proficiency.
Can You Learn Languages While Sleeping?
It might be hard to believe, but research shows that it’s possible to learn new things when we sleep — including languages.
In a 2019 study published in Current Biology, participants were provided with earphones to wear while sleeping. As they slept, words from a made-up language and the translations of these words were played.
Upon reawakening, the participants took a test in which they matched invented terms with their definitions. The study found that the participants could give more accurate answers to the test questions than they could have if they answered them at random.
This suggests that, according to the study’s conclusion, your brain can retain a fair amount of new knowledge even while you’re sleeping.
Even though this is fascinating, disrupting sleep cycles in this way forces the brain to stay up to listen, which prevents you from getting the rest you need. Unless you’re willing to record vocabulary lists and play them back to yourself nightly, it appears that learning a language should be done during the day.
Recommended Reading: Here’s how you can learn without a teacher.
Can You Learn a Language by Listening?
Yes, of course. Although learning a language only by passive listening can be challenging, it is a valid and occasionally helpful method. If you already understand one language, learning another that is similar can be pretty straightforward.
However, if you solely learn a language by listening, you won’t be able to read or write it. Keep in mind that learning to speak will take far longer than learning to listen.
If you prefer to learn a language by listening, there are a few things to remember to avoid any blunders:
- Consider what you’re listening to: While listening is a fantastic way to improve vocabulary, listening by itself might teach you poor habits and make it harder to comprehend the language if it’s spoken correctly.
- Practice forming your own sentences as much as possible: Choose materials that offer them a well-balanced vocabulary and grammar.
Can You Learn a Language by Listening to Music?
Music has numerous advantages when it comes to language learning. Lyrics often consist of informal expressions and terms that we don’t always encounter when learning a language. As a result, listening to music helps us properly integrate the syntax and expand our vocabulary.
Music is a great way to remember things. Experts say that singing new words helps people remember them.
Furthermore, songs are excellent for self-study since they make learning enjoyable.
Recommended Reading: Can you learn while listening to music?
Can You Learn a Language by Reading?
Reading is among the most effective methods in learning a language, even if you’re just getting started.
Reading allows us to become more familiar with terms and grammar rules. The option to pause, think, or check terms in a dictionary makes for a more personalized rate of mental processing. Furthermore, seeing the text of new words and concepts helps improve our recollection of them.
Here are some pointers on where to look for and how to use effective foreign-language reading materials:
- Begin with the basics: Children’s books and software with brief phrases or paragraphs that let you listen to corresponding audio are incredibly beneficial for beginners. Hint: There are some great apps that work in this manner.
- Pick materials that you’ve previously read in your native language: Even if you haven’t read something in years, knowing its essence will significantly help you pick up context clues and indirectly learn new words and grammatical constructs.
- Read materials appropriate for your level: The challenge is choosing foreign-language resources relevant to your vocabulary and grammar. Look for materials that can challenge you — but not to the point of being overwhelming.
Recommended Reading: Here’s how books make us better!
The most dependable way to learn something new is by learning enjoyably. This keeps you motivated and allows you to keep progressing. It’s a lot easier to give up when the process is boring or not fun.
Learning a language through music, movies, or tv shows might not be the most effective strategy for everyone, but it does have its benefits. Also, if it keeps you going, why not use it to its full advantage.
I have answered five language learning questions to show you potential possibilities that could be very effective for the right person. Just remember that when it comes to learning, there are different strokes for different folks.