There are only a few hours left before we begin a new year, and it’s the best possible time to make a resolution to challenge yourself to become a better language learner next year. And this doesn’t necessarily mean hours and hours of study every day!
At Coffee Break Languages, we champion the idea of making your down-time your do-time: by using any spare moments of time you find yourself with to work on language-learning, you can make real progress. On this basis, we’ve done the hard work for you, and compiled this list of New Year language-learning mini challenges that can be completed in short bursts, on each day of January 2018. Whether it’s your New Year’s resolution to jump into German, or to freshen up your French this coming year, this list of challenges will help you on your way to language mastery in 2018!
Think of this as a daily checklist – you can take your own path through these challenges, but we’d love to hear how you get on!
My daily challenge for January 2018
Today I will…
- Listen to 1 episode of a language-learning podcast
- Learn 5 new words, complete with spelling and pronunciation
- Watch a TV episode or YouTube video in my chosen language
– Top Tip: If your chosen TV show offers subtitles, why not challenge yourself and turn on the subtitles in the language you’re learning, as opposed to the English subtitles? This will really help with your comprehension, spelling and pronunciation, as you’ll be able to both hear and see the words.
- Read a paragraph in my chosen language aloud
– Top Tip: Record yourself speaking and listen back to the recording to try and identify where you can improve.
- Listen to the radio in the language I’m learning for 10 minutes
- Say something to a native-speaker of the language I’m learning, or to a fellow learner
- Write my shopping list in my chosen language
- Translate my to-do list into the language I’m learning
- Introduce myself – by either speaking aloud or writing down what I would say – in the language I’m learning
- Work out how to say the current time in the language I’m learning three times during the day
- Find 5 words that I’ve partly forgotten since I learned them and learn them again
- Listen to a song written in the language I’m learning
– Top Tip: Read the lyrics of the song while you listen to it – this will help you to understand it (and of course help you to sing along!)
– Top Tip: Listen to the same song a few times so that you start to distinguish words and phrases more easily
- Review 20 words and repeat them to myself out loud
- Read a recipe written in the language I’m learning (and use it, if time allows!)
- Write 2 sentences in the language I’m learning that demonstrate the last grammar point I learned
- Read a page of text in my chosen language
- Write out all the conjugations for 3 regular verbs from memory, and learn any that I get wrong
- Write out all the conjugations for 3 irregular verbs, and learn any that I get wrong
- Read a news article related to a country where the language I’m learning is spoken, either in the language I’m learning or in English
- Write a paragraph in the language I’m learning about what I’m doing for the rest of the day
- Write out a script or comic strip of a pretend conversation in the language I’m learning
- Learn 20 new words, complete with spelling and pronunciation
- Shop online for something on a website written in the language I’m learning (you don’t actually need to buy anything!)
– Top tip: Lots of international companies have equivalent websites for many different countries. Just search ‘Amazon España’, for example.
- Write a short paragraph in the language I’m learning about what I did yesterday
- Learn a new fact about the culture of a country that natively speaks the language I’m learning
- Narrate my life in the language I’m learning for 5 minutes
– “I’m walking into the kitchen because I fancy a cup of tea. I can’t remember where the sugar bowl is. Ah yes, I put it through the dish-washer last night. Now I need to refill it….”
– Top tip: With this exercise you’re likely to quickly come across words that you don’t know. Write these down in English at the time, and look them up after the exercise. Try repeating the exercise later/the next day when you know the vocabulary.
- Describe my surroundings for 2 minutes in the language I’m learning
– Top tip: As with the previous exercise, you’re likely to quickly come across words that you don’t know. Write these down in English at the time, and look them up after the exercise. Try repeating the exercise later, when you know all of the vocabulary.
- Test myself on 40 words that I’ve learned before
- Write a poem or song (~4 lines long) in the language that I’m learning
- Read 5 pages of a book written in the language I’m learning
– Top Tip: There are lots of books available which have the foreign language and English printed side-by-side, or why not try starting out with a children’s novel?
- Set myself a vocabulary test: test myself on all of the vocabulary I’ve noted down over the past month!
– Top tip: A great way to test yourself is to take a notebook and fold each page in half, from top to bottom. Then, write down all of the foreign-language words you’ve taken a note of over the past month on one side of the fold, and all of their English equivalents on the other side. Cover one side of the page and recite the translations of the words out loud, one by one. Then cover the other side of the page and translate in the opposite direction.
So, there you have it: the perfect blueprint to starting the year with a language-learning bang!