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How to Walk out of High School with a New Language

Updated on October 4, 2017
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I'm a student who cannot fit all my interests into my school life. But, I did walk out of high school fluent in a new language. You can too!

So, you look around and realize that out of all high school graduates you know, only a handful can communicate in the foreign language they've studied. You want to change that. No more regretful faces when talking about your language learning experience at school! Here are some ideas of how to make the most of it.

DISCLAIMER: You have to WANT it!

If you are looking to become fluent in a new language, you must recognize that it is going to require efforts (extra efforts if you want to be fluent by the end of high school!). A high school curriculum for a foreign language isn't typically enough to speak the language fluently, but if you use the resources of your classes in a smart way, you will maximize the benefit of your efforts.

1. Fall in Love with the Language Before You Learn It

Familiarize yourself with the language so that you feel more excitement than confusion in your first lessons.

  • Listen to the language being spoken to get used to its flow, pace and rhythm. This can be done through music, films or videos.
  • Learn the very basics of the language as a fun introduction. A free way to do this is to use Duolingo.
  • Research destinations, stories, traditions and celebrations in countries that speak your target language. This should get you excited to be part of the community that speaks it.
  • Search for blogs/websites/YouTube channels of language speakers/learners that dedicate their work to languages. They will be a great resource for motivation and more hidden tips.


2. Do not Rely Only on Your Teacher's Knowledge

Your teacher's main focus is going to be to go through the syllabus. However, real life doesn't rely on syllabi, and you're going to have to be more open and knowledgeable about topics outside the school setup.

  • Ask your teacher for extra resources such as books, websites to read articles and practice grammar, magazines, music recommendations, etc... You have the responsibility to prompt them to share everything they know.
  • Sometimes, the teacher might not even encourage you to use your target language in class. You must make it a rule for yourself: Do not speak English in my target language class. (Of course, this is when you have acquired some base knowledge and are able to form sentences).
  • Find the kids who already speak the language fluently and just took the class as an easy way out. You can befriend them and learn the slang/informal aspects of the language with their help. If the friendship develops further, it might even help you get exclusive access to experiencing their culture.

Find the Hidden Gems that Help Boost Progress

-Look for the native speaker who picked this class to pass it with minimal efforts.

-Ask for extra resources.

-Search for the best online content (A LOT OF FREE OPTIONS).

3. Use your Free Time to Remind Yourself of Why you Want This

Sometimes, you will struggle with motivation. You can get back on track.

  • Establish a connection with a native speaker. Whether it's your neighbor, a classmate or a stranger on the internet, your ability to communicate in their language and be understood will remind you that what you are doing is simply unimaginably cool and absolutely worth it.
  • Read stories about how speaking multiple languages can be the most helpful thing ever. Here's one I love by a travel YouTuber duo.
  • If you have the opportunity, try to live with a native speaking family. This can be in your country or in a country that speaks your target language. The important thing is to be exposed to the language through interacting with your host family. It is so surprising how many resources provide opportunities to contact host families.

After High School: Stay in Touch with the Language

Internet is the best way to stay connected to people from a distance, right? Well, it's the same thing for languages. Realistically, not everyone is going to have the chance to live in a country that speaks their target language to keep their skills alive, so we're going to have to work around that...

  • Music is an easy way to learn new vocabulary, even if you are a confident speaker. Learning this way feels effortless.
  • Watching movies is enjoyable, but you can make it more beneficial by watching movies in your target language. If they are originally in the language you want, even better! You get to know what their cinematographic style is like.
  • If you're a fan of YouTube, search for the YouTubers who are native speakers. there's no better way to keep your knowledge up to date than watching people who use it daily.
  • Stay in touch with your native speaking friends if you have the chance. This is self-explanatory.
  • When you get the opportunity, travel! You will be amazed at how magical it feels to realize that high school foreign language classes helped you connect with people you would have never imagined meeting before.


© 2017 H Bakerley


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