My Tips on Learning Languages as a Busy Parent

 

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Learning languages is a huge interest of mine. It’s something that I have always enjoyed doing for fun and personal enrichment. After becoming a parent, I’ve felt that it’s nearly impossible to find the time to do things for myself that I enjoy. I believe many other parents can relate to my situation, whether you work outside of the house, or stay with your children full time.  Additionally ,many of us have been made to believe that our  child’s interest is more important than ours. When we make our interest a priority we will actually be happier and our positive energy and enthusiasm will reflect onto our children.  I’d like to share some of the tips that have helped me continue my language studies as a stay at home mom of two. I hope that it can influence other parents in some way or another.

  • Don’t believe that you have to be younger or enrolled in school to take on a new language. It’s never too late to learn a language. All you need is the interest and dedication. My grandfather was always carrying around Urdu and English books. He managed to keep perfecting his English skills in his 60s and older.
  • Break out of the fear of sounding dumb – The fear of sounding or looking dumb keeps people from doing so many things that they really want to enjoy. We aren’t supposed to sound like a native speaker.  If people laugh at how you say things then let it go.
  • Take small consistent steps – don’t overwhelm yourself. 5 minutes a day is better than burning yourself out to the point where you give up.
  • Choose a language that you studied in the past or one that is a part of your family – Sometimes we really think we forgot a language but we haven’t. You’ll be surprised how fast it comes back to you. If you haven’t studied languages before then try to study one that your family or close friends speak. That way you can have exposure to the language and have someone to ask for tips.
  • Take advantage of Duolingo, Skype,Youtube, Podcast, Facebook language groups etc- There are so many good resources out there now from people giving language lessons on Youtube or apps that help you study words. I personally love the Duolingo app and Facebook support groups.
  • If you aren’t able to travel then put yourself in a social setting where that language is used like a fair or restaurant – International festivals and international restaurants are great ways to immerse yourself locally. You can even push yourself to speak it to native speakers. Most of the time they will really appreciate it. This is always a good learning experience for kids too!
  • Change language settings on Netflix or find a movie or show in another language – the rare time when we get to watch Netflix, try changing it to another language and adding subtitles or watching it in another language with subtitles. I personally fell in love with the drama, “ The Time in Between” on Netflix. It’s a Spanish drama. I learned so many words from it and got use to hearing a native speak it.
  • Listen to music in the language you’re learning- I love Arabic and Tamazight songs. I can find the translation for most Arabic songs. I always ask my husband what certain words mean with Tamazight songs though. Like movies or dramas, it gets my ears use to hearing the language.
  • Learn with or from your child– There are so many language opportunities available for kids that parents can go to like story times. We have Spanish story time here and my son watches some shows that include Spanish. Playing games with him using the languages help too.
  • Make a video of yourself speaking that language and watch it many times– This I what I did for Arabic. I was so uncomfortable seeing myself in the recording but it pushed me to step out of my comfort zone. I got to hear what I sounded like speaking it and ask others for help.
  • Find affordable books online or library (children’s books help too)- there are so many great language books on Amazon. Even the libraries have awesome language books too. If you don’t find some then you can search the catalogues to put some on hold. I’ve found a lot of good Spanish ones here.
  • Label everything! – This is the old fashioned way but it works. (If you have a toddler then this might be hard because they love pulling them off ).
  • Get your family involved – I always ask my husband to quiz me with flash cards in Spanish. It’s motivated him to learn too.
  • Ask native speakers and other language lovers for tips– Everyone has unique experiences and it’s great to learn from one another.
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One thought on “My Tips on Learning Languages as a Busy Parent

  1. I loved this post, Anjuli, and as someone who had to learn a totally new language without any prior knowledge of it at the age of 25, there really is no age-limit on learning. I enrolled in school to learn the basics, but four years later and speaking/reading/writing it daily, I still find myself learning and improving through apps like Duolingo. The language I’m studying now is Russian!

    Like

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