Low budget - Language Learning

In the current internet age, globalisation and the rising popularity of certain cultures is becoming more and more apparent to the every day internet user. And while English is usually the lingua franca used to connect all these people, other languages are gradually taking their own spot in certain industries.

Some communities, like the anime/manga ones, are mostly dominated by the Japanese language. In the global market, Mandarin Chinese is on the rise. While in the case of Starcraft, the scene is mostly dominated by the Koreans, which is why the desire to learn that language grows as well. The task of learning a new language is quite daunting, but the good news is, the cost has gone down tremendously.

Gone are the days that you absolutely had to go to a school or a university and get schooled by a teacher, paying lots of money to even get started, to learn a language. Even in the search for your language of choice, the schools nearby might not have the adequate teachers or course that matches your choice. There are loads of low budget ( or no budget ) options out there now that can really help you get started on learning a new language within your very home. I'll list a few of them down here.

Learning Vocabulary

Memrise Memrise

This, currently in beta, flashcard-learning community is a free and amazing tool for every day use. I'm sure many of you think of all the procastination time you spend on the internet, and how you could have put that time to a better use. This is a great place to start making that time more useful while not losing out on the fun.

Developped by a handful of scientists and experts in memorisation, this service is great for learning vocabulary as it keeps testing you. The service itself feels more like a game where you can compete against other people and friends, or make the community grow by adding your own little mnemonics to a course. You can keep track of the words that you have learned in an easy manner, great for the people who are addicted to statistics and high scores like me.

This is in my opinion the most promising new technology in the wake of learning languages, and I urge anybody that reads this article to check it out to augment your home studying.

Learning Sentences

Antosh and Lin method

I have to fess up here, before memrise, this was probably the best flashcard service out there for amount of content and design with a similar no budget option. But for single words, I gravitate more to memrise simply because of their gaming-like approach and my positive experience with the results.

However! This service also has it's merits. You can use it without signing up ( although you won't have your progress followed in that case ) and it is excellent to use for learning sentences as they offer a wide variety of them ranged from beginner to advanced levels. Grammar in any language relies on a certain logic. Once you get the logic, you can apply it to all the vocabulary you have learned. Which is why you don't need an extensive memorisation grind session to learn sentences that you would need for vocabulary.

Personally I use their RSS feeds to get sentences on my phone to check every week or so. And I often browse through the sentence lists to check grammar rules and syntax which is a breeze with this service. If you sign up, you also get a free trial of their paid service, which adds sound to the flashcards, which is amazing.

To get a look at what they have to offer, just go to one of their flashcard sites like this one and scroll down. There's a menu there with all the other languages they offer

Immersing yourself

This is probably the most important of keeping your motivation up, and thus increasing your level of success. If you don't need a language or you are just using it for a novelty, there's a good chance that you won't succeed in learning a lot of it. Highschool Spanish is a good example of this for Americans. You were forced to learn it from the school district, but you don't actually need it. Hence you forget most of it the second your course ends.

Actually using the language is required to keep the learning process going. Fortunately for most of the people that have English as their second language, this was a no brainer, since most of the games, shows and discussions out there are in English. Unfortunately for the native English speakers, this means that the task of finding communities or media that use another language has become quite daunting.

Music

If you don't have a community to talk or read up about, then you could always turn to music. Music has the great benefit of being able to obviously listen to the language itself, but also that you can use it in your daily travel to work where using flashcards would obviously be obnoxious and dangerous.

Your choice of where to get music from can change your budget around. You could use the ever popular Youtube to listen to the music while memorising the lyrics, or you could use a service like Spotify or iTunes to get the stuff you need.

Video

Any language has their own shows. For some languages like Japanese and Korean, these will be very obvious. Taking the forms of Anime and eSports commentating as an example. But for some languages you might have to look to news or soap series to get to content.

Getting video with subtitles is an absolute godsend for your mind, as it can easily link the words to what is happening on the screen to form a complex memory quickly. Discovery channel in my childhood has been a great resource for learning the English language for me, and it's mostly due to the subtitles that allowed me to follow the program and learn the language at the same time.

Communities

Having someone to actually interact with is great, since they can correct you every so often and you can practice typing. Obviously you won't be able to actually go to the country to talk with the locals ( this being a low budget article and such ) so having an online community to replace it can be a reasonable replacement. Nothing really touches going to the place where the language is spoken and immersing yourself there though.

Some communities even have groups of people or special pages you can go to to read up on the language that is being spoken a lot there. For example, there are countless tutorials about Japanese in the anime community. Which might make learning the language a lot easier since you will be exposed to words that you actually need to use.

Explore

This is what I prefer to do when I don't feel like grinding through vocabulary lists and just want a quick refreshening of my memory. Occasionally browsing through a newssite to see if I can understand the titles or get the gist of stories. Usually there are a lot of returning topics about economic or political situations so you can really reinforce memories quite quickly.

Something I recently have thought about is using the Wikipedia 'random article' function to get on a page that I don't understand at all. Then just translating or reading it until I get what it is about. You can atleast be fairly certain that the grammar is okay there and that the same topics aren't repeated so much.

Random Article

It really helps to aid in remembering vocabulary and refreshen up on grammar rules at the same time without costing you a single dime. Not only that, every so often the Wikipedia article will also have an English counter part. Which means you can quickly switch between them to understand what the article was actually about.

Conclusion

Learning a new language takes a lot of time and effort, but with the present day tools having such a minimum cost, there is no reason to not try to learn it. Mixing a small learning routine in your daily life will pay off in the long run as long as you stick to it. I hope this article has made you aware of the various low budget tools at your exposal.

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