How to Learn a Foreign Language Without Leaving Your Bed

b>Let’s face it – most things, including the ones we genuinely enjoy doing, pale in comparison with lying in a soft, warm bed.

Language learning lies in a grey area for me. I enjoy it, but could I really enjoy it more than lounging in my bed or – if I’m feeling particularly adventurous that day – the sofa? Of course not. That is why I have become an expert at combining the two. Do you want to find out how to master Italian in a pillow fort? Or how about learning Mandarin whilst trying not to spill green tea all over your silk PJs? Anything is possible!

  • Watch TV

Let’s start with something really simple… The average American watches 34 hours of TV per week. Imagine what would happen to your fluency if you spent one half – or even one third – of that time watching Spanish soap operas or Russian cartoons! And you can definitely do that from bed.

Rock on, bitchez.
  • Listen to music

My Spotify is always on – my life is just so cool it demands a soundtrack, you know? Why limit yourself to a boring monolingual playlist though? Let Shakira rouse you from your sleep in her native Spanish or blast some Scandinavian metal while you paint your toenails black. Sure, singing in a foreign language can help you reduce your accent and memorise words faster, but what’s more important – it’s really fun.

  • Change the language on your phone & Facebook

Aside from that one time I set my phone to Chinese and then spent a day trying to change it back, this method has always worked for me. You will probably accidentally “like” someone’s Facebook status from 2007, but you might also curb your smartphone addiction because speaking to your phone in a foreign language can get extremely frustrating.

My iPad is literally talking to me in Chinese.

Let’s say you’re American and you’d like to improve your Spanish. The website will connect you with hundreds of Spanish speakers who are keen on improving their English and let you exchange messages, free of charge. It doesn’t have to be English and Spanish, either – I counted 110 languages on their website, including Hmong, Kinyarwanda or Tamazight.

In the past, I used italki to improve my Russian and it’s probably the best language-learning tool I’ve ever tried. You can even write notebook entries, which other users will happily correct for you. Ideal for last-minute homework prep. To sum it up – it’s genius, simple and gratis!

Leveling up like a baws. 

  • Download Duolinguo

I live in London, so I spend outrageous amounts of time staring at my phone, trying to avoid making eye contact with people on the tube. All the annoying Facebook requests have put me off Candy Crush, so I play language games instead. Duolinguo is one of my favourites – it doesn’t offer much speaking practice, but it will help you improve your writing skills with extensive exercises

At the moment the app can be used for studying Latin American Spanish, French, German, Brazilian Portuguese and Italian, but with about 12.5 million active users it will surely expand its repertoire soon. Oh, and did I mention it was completely free?

  • Check out Mindsnacks (£2.99)

Mindsnacks is another app I like to use for language-learning. It lets you play cute little games and in the process you magically pick up some mad skillz. You can use it for learning Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, German, Mandarin and Portuguese – you can either buy one for £2.99 or all of them for £12.99.

Wait, how do you say “tequila” in Spanish?

  • Read the dictionary

This might be a little extreme, but it’s also how I managed to drastically improve my English before being sent to an international school at the age of 13. You don’t have to read the book like a novel the way I did – just learn a few words a day, every day.

If you learn ten words everyday, that’s 300 words every month. According to conservative estimates, the average English speaker actively uses around 5,000 words. If that’s true, it’d take you a little over 16 months to become relatively fluent.

  • Actually, read anything

Try reading your favourite book in a foreign language or, better yet, get into a habit of reading books in their original language. You know that one person that seems to exist at any party who corners people and tries to have an intellectual conversation with them? You know, the guy who says things like: “Ugh, you haven’t read Don Quixote until you’ve read it in Spanish. Trust me, amigo.”? That could be you!

  • Post-it’s everywhere

I can’t really pull off the whole post-it thing because it makes me look more psychotic serial killer than zealous polyglot. However, if it won’t make your friends admit you to the nearest asylum, it’s definitely worth a try. Label anything from your fridge to its contents and snack your way to fluency. Or, you know, obesity.

“Girl vs Globe”? What the patata is that?

And there you have it! Put your PJs on, climb back into bed and start studying. 
Do you have any other good tips that help you in learning foreign languages?

  • Olga Rabo

    I read Harry Potter in Spanish to improve my language skills!
    It did help a lot – if you re-read something you basically know by heart (haha, I’m a HP fan), the new vocabulary sticks very quickly!

    Watching TV is something that didn’t really help me, to be honest – but just being around people who constantly talk Spanish (while I’m being all quiet lol) did.
    It’s just that Ecuadorian television is soooo bad… I’d rather never speak Spanish that force myself to watch it every day lol

    http://www.therussianabroad.com

  • Awesome blog post! I use Duolingo for learning my French and LOVE IT! Intrigued by italki, might have to just check it out!

  • Sometimes I turn the foreign subtitles on while I’m watching Netflix – that makes binge-watching count as educational, right? 😉 I’m going to have to check out Duolingo now!

  • I used Duolingo as an addition to my German class and I have to admit it’s helped me improved so much. Maybe Harry Potter in German soon? 😛

  • Lauren @ Craving Sunshine

    I learnt Spanish at school and hoped as soon as we landed in Mexico it would all come flooding back….unfortunately that had not been the case! I’m using Duolingo and I think if it’s a language refresher you need it’s great! The more I use it the more words come back to me 🙂

  • I’m a little late but this post is FANTASTIC!!! You had me literally laughing out loud while downloading some language apps and Harry Potter in French! Love it!! Xx

  • Claudio Ramadori

    I just bumped into this post today and it was a lot of fun reading it. Not quite sure about the results, but it definitely sounds like a fun way to learn a new language. I’m following these tips http://mythaidestination.com/learning-a-foreign-language-4-essential-qualities/ but I will surely implement some of your techniques to improve my Thai.

  • Thank you for all advices, I have motivation to learn english & spanish, hope successfully 🙂

  • Timka Krauszová

    Hey Sabina! 🙂
    I really LOVE this post! I have actually written a similar article right here: http://timkablog.sk/efektivne-studium-ako-sa-naucit-po-anglicky/
    It is about English, but applicable to any language. I have never heard of italki before, so thanks for the tip! <3