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Using your interests/hobbies to learn a language

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

The most efficient way to create a full linguistic immersion and enjoy the learning process, is to lean into what you know and like.

If you love cinema, football or cooking, the moment you start:

  • reading an article/book,

  • watching a documentary/film,

  • listening to a podcast/radio,

  • having a chat,

and each of these activities is related to your interest/hobby, half the comprehension job is already done!

You can relax because the context/rules/technical terms are familiar and you can focus on the language itself. And the more you relax into the learning process, the more progress you make. Language learning becomes significantly easier and more pleasant, when you already are within your own comfort zone.

This might seem obvious, but you'd surprised how often I remind my students of that fact, giving them my own example.

Like most people raised in Paris, I'm an avid cinemagoer and have been reading movie magazines since the age of 14. Naturally, when I started learning Italian, I immediately purchased magazines and books in Italian on cinema, I researched blogs/websites, and podcasts to practise the language, and I watched movies in Italian using subtitles. I did the same with other topics that are of interest to me, such as literature, cooking, and travelling. Not only did it make comprehension easier, but I was having fun.

When I first meet a student, I ask a lot of questions to assess, not just their level, but their interests and hobbies, so I can research activities, books, and platforms for them to use. And if in between lessons I come across a new film/article/video I think they will enjoy, I immediately send them a link. I'm keen for my students to follow their interest first, so they can learn the language they're studying more naturally and without judging themselves.

It's widely accepted that children learn languages through songs, games, and playful activities, while most adult learners think they have to bury their noses in grammar books instead, mostly because that's what we all did at school.

While studying grammar and learning conjugations are unavoidable, language learning can still be active and enjoyable, that is, as long as you let yourself have fun in the process!

Don't hesitate to send me your questions.

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