People often ask me if I’m essentially giving myself homework when I study languages…yes and no. They say it like it’s a bad thing- and I was one of the kids that enjoyed school and usually liked doing my homework. So yes, you do have to study and put in the work to learn a language.
But also no, since you can make your studying as fun as you want! I do like using textbooks and learning grammar, but I also like to learn via books, movies, tv shows, translating memes so I can understand them & learn the vocab, and playing games in other languages.
For when you really have to double down and work on learning cases, there are modern day study aids. I know when I was a kid, I would often try to work for a certain amount of time and then reward myself with a snack, reading a bit of a fun book, or going outside. Nowadays there is a similar and well-proven study method called the Pomodoro Method, where you work for 25min and then have a 5min break.
I’ve recently tried out some apps that I thought were worth sharing in case you haven’t heard of them and you’re interested! I’ve heard about them from the language learning community on social media. Most of these aren’t new, and are well-liked by many. I finally gave them a try!
Toggl– a habit tracker app
Generally when I track my language practice, I use a paper journal. I started tracking my language practice about 2 or so years ago, and it really is helpful for me. I’m able to see a more visual representation of my progress, and it also provides me with some accountability. If it’s the end of the week, and I realize I haven’t practiced my Polish at all, I’ll make sure to work through a bit of my textbook or watch some Easy Polish videos on Saturday. I can make sure that I’m practicing this way.
Toggl helps you track your habits digitally, and you can mark categories & tags for your “projects” or whatever you’re tracking. It also provides you with a nice pie graph so you can see where your time is going during the day/week/month. They also had a pretty interface, and the mobile app could sync with other devices which would make it easy to keep up with your tracking as well. I played with it for a week, and decided to stick with my paper journal, but it was fun to try out!
Anki– digital flashcard app
I liked using paper flashcards back in my school days, but I really don’t use them much as an independent adult learner. But I do still use apps that have an SRS feature (spaced repetition system) like Drops and Lingodeer, and it helps you review old words and move on from words that it recognizes that you do know. Anki works in a similar way, reintroducing old words and filing away words that you know. You can make your own deck or practice with pre-made decks, so whatever level of effort you want to put it to your flashcard practice is fine. I’m not going to stick with Anki, since I’m not into flashcards these days, but it’s good to know about.
Clozemaster– app for SRS sentence learning
Clozemaster is similar to Anki, and other language learning apps, because of the SRS feature. It reminds me of Duolingo, in that it has a bit of a video game layout. But it’s different in that it presents you with a sentence, and then you have to fill in the blank. There is a “Fluency track”, but I’ve mainly practiced with the # Common Sentences lists. You can choose 100 Common Words, and then fill in the blank by multiple choice or by typing it in. I like that there is a context and they’re usually practical. This can be helpful if you’re a beginner (so choose multiple choice) or intermediate (choose to type in the blank). They also have a lot of language choices- I was able to find Icelandic here! For now, I’m playing around with Clozemaster for Icelandic, Polish, and German.
Forest– app helps prevent phone distraction and encourages study time
I had heard of the Forest app a few years ago, but not gone further to check it out. Recently I joined a language Discord group (there are a bunch of language groups on there, if you’re interested) and many of the members use Forest when studying. The free version lets you pick an amount of time or start a stopwatch, and then your cartoon tree will grow on your phone. If you try to do anything else on your phone, it gives you a warning and then stops your tree from growing any further. I found it to be pretty effective for keeping me from playing around on my phone while studying haha. With the paid version, you can make exceptions for certain apps on your phone, so your tree won’t die when Forest is on. You can also grow trees as a group, which is what I noticed this language Discord doing, to encourage studying.
I don’t *need* to use an app to make me study, but it’s fun to play with. For now, I’m using it sometimes when I study to see the little trees as progress when I’m done with a study session.
If you’ve found any language/study apps you think I’d be interested in, let me know! Sometimes it takes me a little while to try things, but I’m always interested in hearing about new things like this.
Ciao ciao xx