Spice It Up! Five Quick and Simple Language Learning Recipes Posted by on Nov 6, 2013 in Archived Posts

Guest Post by Sam from Lingholic. (If you missed his last guest post on language learning habits, you’re missing out!)

Would you eat the exact same meal every day? I bet you wouldn’t. You’d get fed up pretty quickly and look for something else. Why would language learning be any different?

Learning a language is all about developing a healthy, consistent routine that you can stick to. Studying a language 15-20 minutes every single day will bring you significantly higher returns in the long-run than if you studied 3-4 hours only one day of the week.

But this doesn’t mean that you should do the exact same thing every day. That’s boring and it can eventually get you stuck in rut. You should find activities that strike a healthy balance between “study” and “enjoyment.” Easier said than done, right?

Hence today’s post in which I will provide you with 5 language learning recipes. That’s right, just like a cookbook has recipes of meals with different time requirements that cater to different types of occasions, so too can a language learning routine be thought of in this manner.


Recipe #1: The Bookworm

Approximate Time Required: 25-30 min

Suitable Location: Home, library, coffee shop.

What you’ll need: Your favorite language learning textbook.

Directives: This traditional recipe entails going through a chapter or part of a chapter of your favorite textbook. Get used to only working through a certain set number of pages every time you open the book. As you go through the dialogues, repeat them out loud to yourself. To solidify everything better into your memory, write the dialogues in a notebook as you go through them.

For best results, do this routine in a place you are unlikely to be interrupted. I personally like going to a café when using this recipe, as it allows me to really focus, relax, and forget about other stuff that would normally act as distraction in my home. If you study at home, make sure you have a clutter-free desk and electronic devices turned off. It makes a big difference!


Recipe #2: The Web Surfer

Approximate Time Required: 10-15 min

Suitable Location: Anywhere you have access to a computer

What you’ll need: A computer; a Firefox or Chrome browser add-on; an online dictionary.

Directives: Surf an interesting blog/webpage or the news in your target language. This works best if you’re an intermediate learner. Download a plugin such as Wiktionary and Google Translate for Firefox, which will let you hover over unknown words to automatically get a pop-up with the translation (I made a video about this showing exactly how it can be done).

For best results, make your favorite webpage in a foreign language as your homepage. Every time you’ll open up your browser, you’ll get to read at least a few sentences in your target language.


Recipe #3: The “To Go” Box

Approximate Time Required: 15-20 min

Suitable Location: In your car; on the bus; while walking/jogging; at the grocery store.

What you’ll need: An mp3 player with earphones; audio files such as podcasts or the radio.

Directives: This recipe works almost everywhere. A lot of people make the excuse that they are too busy to learn a language, but whenever you find yourself commuting to some place, use this “transition” time to listen to a podcast or the radio in your target language. If you’re in the car, this works really well because you can repeat aloud what you are listening.

For best results, don’t be afraid to jot down some words or phrases that you listen to and that you want to come back at later when you’re on the go (not when you’re driving, though!). Carrying a small pocket notebook is a winning strategy!


Recipe #4: The Scribbler

Approximate Time Required: 25-30 min

Suitable Location: Home, library, coffee shop.

What you’ll need: A nice notebook; a text in your target language; a pen.

Directives: The Lingholic Method is a writing routine that I have invented, and it works well to improve your writing. Simply copy texts in your target language that you have an interest in and that are suitable to your level. Copy those into a nice notebook especially dedicated to your writing exercises.

For best results, copy texts by hand (not by typing words on a computer), to make use of the natural memory that is linked to handwriting. Be sure to take your time and relax, as stress hinders the proper functioning of memory.


Recipe #5: The Moviegoer

Approximate Time Required: 30-90 min

Suitable Location: Home, movie theatre.

What you’ll need: A laptop or TV through which you can play TV shows or movies.

Directives: Simply watch an interesting movie or TV show (or even a YouTube video) in your target language. Even if you’re a beginner and don’t understand much of what you’re listening, this will get you used to the “flow” of the language and you’ll slowly pick up useful words and expressions. Don’t hesitate to put on subtitles!

For best results, find a movie that is likely to interest you. You can easily find foreign language movies on a site such as IMDB, and look for ratings above 7/10 to make sure they are not lemons that will bore you to death.


What do you think? Do you vary your approach to language learning? Of the recipes outlined in this post, what’s your favorite one? Let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to visit my blog, lingholic, as well as my Facebook and Twitter pages. 


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  1. Mike Stalder:

    Another fun idea is an application for a phone. I have several fun “games” for learning Chinese. One is a trace the character – It floats down and when you touch it to start your character it disappears and shows your strokes. You have to get the correct stroke order before a timer goes off. I also play Mah Jong on my phone and always say the character (bei, nan, dong, xi, yi, er, san, etc.

  2. rakkaus:

    I tried the webtools -firefox and chrome- every thing what isnt a infinitive didnt work.. eg spanish “dues” …

    and with finnish I dont get any word translated…
    neither with norwegian 🙁

    • lingholic:

      @rakkaus Sorry to hear that, rakkaus. It has worked well for me for Spanish, so I’m a little surprised. Try this: instead of double clicking only on one single word, try selecting a bit of phrase of even an entire sentence. If you then hold CTRL or ALT (depending on how you tweeked the options of the add-on), you should see the translation pop-up for the whole thing, so this might work better.

      Otherwise, I’m sure there are a couple of additional add-ons that perform similar functions to those I’ve recommended, so if I were you I would scourge the net for an alternative.

      If you find anything that works well, share it with the rest of us!


  3. Natalie:

    I like this could it be made into a poster? that would be great for download with the imagery of cooking up a language storm! lol

  4. Sergio Rodrigues:

    You didn’t mention listen to music. Does it really helps to learn English regardless the level you are in?

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