Learning a language

Source: Penn state via flickr

By Harry Bligh

Better job prospects, more cultural awareness, improved brain health – just some of the benefits of learning a new language.

Learning a new language whist at university has a plethora of benefits and Cardiff has many resources to help you.

I started here in 2014 with only a B in GCSE French which had done 3 years before. My language skills were somewhat rusty back then. Thankfully, Cardiff University’s ‘Languages for All’ programme provides free language courses to all students. LfA offers courses in 9 languages, including weekly seminars and one-week daily intense courses.

Not everyone has time in their week to take language lessons, in which case there are many alternatives. Cardiff also offers students a membership to Rosetta Stone which has access to 30 languages, this can be found on Learning Central. Also students can self study a language in Senghennydd Library where there are books, magazines and films in lots of foreign languages.

If all this sounds too daunting and if you just want to dabble in a language, Duolingo is a great app for iPhone and Android which is free to use. You can learn multiple languages on your profile and it doesn’t cost a penny. Not only does it track your progress, it gives you a fluency percentage and has features where you can learn with friends, have conversations with ‘bots’ and practice your weaknesses.

I spent first and second year learning French up to a higher intermediate level with LfA. Learning French with LfA has been immensely useful and gave me the opportunity to further my study in Montreal last summer with Global Opportunities Centre. I highly recommend it.

Here are my top tips for learning a new language

– If you’re using an app like Duolingo, set yourself a realistic goal and stick to it! Even if its just 10 minutes a day

– Be patient! Learning languages takes time, it isn’t something you can do in a week.

– Immerse yourself in the language, listen to music or radio in that language, or take advantage of one of Language Schools Language Cafés.

– Keep practicing in your head. Once you get to a good enough level, try and translate words and phrases in your head, like road signs (Unless you’re learning welsh, its already been done for you)

– Start with the basics, learn the most common 100 words and learn basic conversation starters.

– When you feel more confident, set your phone to the language you are learning, that way you see and learn new words all the time and can be immersed in the life bubble that is social media.

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