Based in Leeds, but exploring Berlin for the next two months.
Published March 11th 2019
Top tips for language learning on a budget
When I first made the decision to move to Berlin, I knew that I wanted to make a concerted effort to learn German. Language courses are expenses, so I was determined to find a way to improve my language skills as much as possible without spending too much money.
I'm sharing the hints and tips that have helped me when learning German, and I hope they help you with your new language too.
The internet is an incredible resource for free language resources. On YouTube, you can find free language lessons (my favourite German learning channel is Learn German With Anja), and it's worth looking around for a channel you connect with.
Duolingo is perhaps the most famous free language learning app, and although it has a monthly fee, Babbel is also very popular. The BBC website also has a wide selection of language resources available (now archived), which you can find here.
As with any kind of language learning, conversation practice is vital. There are plenty of Facebook pages for one-to-one tandem exchanges, and apps such as the aptly named Tandem, iTalki and many more can help you find a tandem partner anywhere and anytime.
Meetup is a great place to find language learning groups or all levels and abilities. Better still, many of these are free!
In Berlin, I found a really great theatre improvisation group, tailored especially for learning German grammar. It's ingenious and fun, and it's really helped me understand the German tenses and their use in different situations. Sign up on Meetup, and see if you can find something similar!
Practice, practice, practice
For languages like German or Spanish, which have multiple cases and gendered words, you will find that you just have to sit down and practice these rules! This also applies for languages with a completely different alphabet, such as Chinese, Russian, or Arabic, where the characters need learning by heart.
Consistency is key. Try and do some practice every day or so, whether you mix it up with immersion (watching TV shows/movies in said language), conversation practice, or just simple grammar games. Every little bit helps, and just five minutes a day can keep the momentum going.
This comes with time. Your first trip to Lidl or Carrefour may fill you with dread and cause some unexpected confusion, but just remember that you are learning and should be kind and patient with yourself. Eventually, you'll become more confident in certain situations and feel at home with your new language.