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Tandem tips

How to Learn Languages on a Budget

Many people learn a foreign language out of necessity - perhaps they are moving to a new country, or need to pass an exam. Others do it out of a desire to travel or connect with other cultures. There is even evidence that it is good for your health! But the reality is that learning a language doesn’t always feel accessible enough. And while practice makes perfect, many of us don’t have the resources to travel to a place where we are immersed in the language.

The truth is that ANYONE can learn a language - and you don’t have to be rich to do it! Here are some key steps you can take to save money when learning languages.

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Ah, the classroom. This classic, old school method of learning a foreign language provides a good base foundation. With language courses, all four aspects of learning a language are typically well covered — reading, writing, speaking and listening. There must be a catch right?

Well, one downside to this method is that it requires quite a time commitment that many people find difficult to stick with. The second downside, and the biggest, is that language courses, whether online or offline, can be very expensive and often leave you without the practical tools to start speaking straight away. Here are some alternatives and tips to learn languages on a budget!

1. Change your attitude

The first thing to do is to get in the right headspace to learn a language. All the money in the world will not make you fluent in anything - what you really need is a good work ethic and passion. If you have those two things, there’s no reason why you won’t be able to get speaking in no time!

2. Be your own boss

Ok, so you can’t afford a teacher to boss you around and make you study. Time to be your own boss! Organize your language goals by using free apps like Wunderlist or Evernote. Set aside a small amount of time for practicing every day with reminders on your phone to keep yourself in check. And keep your close family and friends updated on your progress - you'll be surprised how supportive and motivational they are!


3. Use free language trainer tools

If you’re a beginner, using programs like Duolingo, Memrise or flashcard apps can be a great way to learn vocabulary and simple phrases, and they are both totally free. While they won’t get you fluent on their own, these apps will help you to get a grounding which you can then put into practice when you...

4. Find a language exchange

The only way to have a teacher for free is by being a teacher in return! With a conversation partner, you help each other learn your native languages. It is also an amazing way to learn about other cultures direct from the source! Read all about how language exchanges work here.

5. Find a friend to practice with

As well as your language exchange partner, practice with friends who are learning the same language as you. It can be a real confidence-builder to practice with someone who is at the same language level as you - you can still learn a lot from each other. You can find friends through language exchange apps or websites like MeetUp.

People studying together

6. Get your own resources

Don’t feel like you have to restrict yourself to yawn-worthy textbooks. Find something you love in your native language, and start doing it in your target language instead. Love reading? Look up some blogs, news websites or short stories that you can read. Love makeup vlogs? Scour YouTube for ones in your chosen language. This way, language learning will become part of your everyday life.

7. Fall in love with your dictionary

Make learning words into a fun task by making them directly relate to your life. Whether it’s the old cliche of sticking post-it notes around your house or setting up daily reminders on your smartphone, expanding your vocabulary a tiny bit every day will give you the ammunition you’ll need when you start speaking.

8. And last of all… enjoy it!

You’re setting yourself a massive challenge when you decide to learn a language, but it shouldn’t be a painful experience. Not having the money for an expensive but restrictive language course can be a blessing in disguise, as it means you have more freedom to experiment and find a language learning method that you really enjoy.

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