Learn a Language this summer

I. Love. Languages. I love different alphabets, accents, symbols and slang. I remember when I was about 9 years old, my friend, a year below me, told me she was learning French at school, I was so jealous! Why didn't they teach us at our school?! It wasn't till I got to high school that I started learning French, then German. I carried on with French through to my A-levels and also started beginner classes in Spanish and Japanese. I started learning Ancient Greek at one point too.

I absolutely adore being able to go to France and communicate effectively in French! 
Languages do take effort though. Like the famous saying 'If you don't use it you lose it', if you don't practice a language, you will start to forget it. I no longer know much of the German I learned for two years, just 'my name is', how to count to ten, 'my birthday is...' and obvs 'can I take me blazer off?'
That has motivated me to re-familiarise myself with the things I learned in those Spanish and Japanese classes so that I don't forget any more of it. I also hope to start learning another language soon too, though I'm not sure which one yet...

Learning a language is a whole other way to help completely immerse yourself into the culture of another country, and it's not as difficult as you may think!

Here, I have separated learning a language into five stages;

1. Alphabet and basic vocab (verbs, nouns).
Basic present tense for regular verbs in each person,
e.g; I do, you do, he/she does, you (plural) do, we do, they do.
as well as an insight into different types of verbs - in terms of masculine and feminine (in many languages, the way in which a verb changes depends on its' grammatical gender, It's like, 'actor' and 'actress')
With this you will be able to form basic sentences as well as be able to ask questions.

Also, numbers! One of the first things taught in classes, in my experience, is how to count from 1-10. Other than English, I can count from 1-10 in five other languages, but of which I am only fluent in one! So once you know it's hard to forget. 

2. Past and future tenses with regular verbs.
More advanced vocab and adjectives, as well as how those adjectives change depending on who you're talking about. 

3. Irregular verbs
Doesn't sounds like much but I can ensure you, it most certainly warrants it's own stage. Irregular verbs simply have to be memorised as they don't follow the normal pattern - some are downright bizarre! In my French A-level classes, we literally spent a good 5 months or so going though every irregular verb, in all their possible forms. 

4. Other tenses - yes, there are more. Many more. I know nine in French but I think there are actually more than that! I was so surprised at first, but when we translated back to English it all made sense; of course English has more than the three tenses too, just you never realise it because you don't normally think about your native language that way - I never did anyway. That's one of the reasons I love learning foreign languages, It teaches you so much about your native language too. 

5. The colloquial stage. When I went to France for the first time, after having studied French in school for six years I noticed a difference in the way the locals spoke and how I was taught. Yes what you are taught is the 'proper' way to speak the language, but think about it, in your everyday life, do you speak your native language 'properly'? Slang almost always comes in, and there are little informal phrases that get spoken all the time too. I'm a huge user of 'like', it actually, like, annoys me sometimes, haha!
Then there is of course, the accent! I love accents, so much, and I thought I had a quite a good French accent, until a boy in a class I was helping in, said I sounded like the Queen! Of course, why thank you monsieur, the Queen has the penultimate accent, but that obviously meant my French was actually very English-sounding, the English version of a French accent! I don't mind though, I think only twice I was misunderstood, I'm pretty happy with that!
Aside from that, there are many mannerisms, and the melody in which things are said also differs, for example, in your native language you may put emphasis on one word, but in another language, it may be another word in the same sentence that is emphasised.

You can tell I adore learning languages, I could, believe it or not, write a lot more than the above...but alas, now that you know the kinds of things you will be learning, I bring you to the list I've compiled of the different ways in which you can start learning...

How To| Learn a Language this Summer


A good place to start is by getting a dictionary. I have a Concise Oxford French Dictionary which is great because it includes sections where lots of different verbs and adjectives are shown in each person, and each tense.

'Aimer' - 'to like'

Textbooks or revisions guides are also good. There are many different books that can teach from a basic level, to books for specifically grammar, advanced level, even books with just slang words in the foreign language.
Fiction books are another great idea; you can get bilingual books that have both your native language and the foreign language, or you can go for a book you've already read, in the foreign language, you'll already know the story so it'll be easier to understand. 


Listening to the words being pronounced can help majorly in learning a language, because, well, you will know how it's supposed to sound! There are so many audio CDs out there, here's an article on 'The best foreign language CDs'.
Aside from audio CDs, another great way to listen to the foreign language is to listen to the radio or watch a film in that language! Most libraries have foreign film sections, or on most DVDs nowadays, you can change the language settings. I like to watch with English subtitles so I can double check if I don't understand something, but as I got better, I put the subtitles in French too. As for finding a radio station, check this out, it links to online radio stations in over 100 different languages!


  I have personally used Babbel and Duolingo which both include interactive games and tests to help you learn. You can listen to the sentence or word being spoken too. Another popular site is Rosetta Stone, though having never tried it, I don't know much about it.

Go Abroad!

Probably the most fun, and maybe a little scary at first, way to learn a language is to go to a country that language is spoken and just pick it up! Completely immersing yourself, hearing and seeing the language all the time, will help a lot in your learning. Most things you will probably understand because of the situation you are in, for example, if you were in, say, Mcdonalds, it's likely you will be asked if 'you want fries with that?'. I read once that a great way to learn is to do so like a baby; watch others and copy what they say. It'd be good to bring a small dictionary with you though, or memorise a few key phrases like, 'I don't understand', 'Could you repeat that?' or if you're really struggling, 'I can't speak *language*'. Even just saying 'I'm English', (and looking kind of apologetic) has worked for me, everyone just genuinely tries to help you understand!

So, you could go on a long holiday, or you could get a job that would involve you speaking the foreign language. I tried au pairing - which is a great way to get to know the culture as well, you could work in a summer camp, work as a holiday rep, teach English or volunteer abroad. 
Just get out there! *Fist pump*



  1. This is an awesome way to start learning! I would definitely LOVE to learn French again, I've forgotten all my high school French and, as Paris is at the top of my travel list, I should really get my skates on! Kudos to you for learning, it's great to have extra languages under your belt. I speak Finnish and Arabic, and I definitely agree you need to keep using the language so you don't forget x

    ♥.•*¨ Amanda Says ¨*•.♥

    1. Thanks Amanda! Both Finnish and Arabic seem so interesting to learn, I love languages that have a completely different form to English :)x

  2. Such an informative and fun post! I wish I had the time to learn Spanish this summer but I've been just so super busy all the time :(

    Naomi in Wonderland

    1. Thanks Naomi :) Ah that's a shame, I'm sure you'll get to one day though! x

  3. I would love to learn Spanish since we're planning to find a vacay appartment there! And beeing able to communicate with locals is a MUST! I hate scientific subjects at school but totally loved to learn new languages! I'm so happy to communicate in English at least, so I don't forget this world language like I did it with French! ;( Great and useful tips, Vanisha!

    xoxo Ira

    1. Thank you Ira! Ah that'd be so lovely, a home from home! You communicate really well in English, it could easily have been your native language! Wish you the best with learning Spanish and I hope my tips come in handy! :))X