Language workouts

“In all cases, treat language as sport.” – Tim Ferriss

 

Create your routine with these workouts. Remember: Repetition & consistency are not important, they are VITAL to learn a language.

The workouts are sorted by theme: Songs, videos, speaking & immersion. At the bottom of this page, you’ll also find the section ‘Tools’ with the resources you may need to complete the different workouts. Also, in all of these workouts, by ‘lyrics’ I mean ‘lyrics and their translation’. If you can’t understand the original lyrics, then you’ll need to take a look at their translation in order to understand and assimilate new vocabulary and grammatical structures.

 

Songs

Jaws (not the movie though!)

Pronunciation drills. Listen to a sound over and over again. Repeat it, over and over again. Record yourself, and compare with a native version of the sound. Use forvo if necessary, to hear the sound in a word. Also watch YouTube tutorials if needed. Persistence is the key word.

Wine tasting

Listen to a song with the lyrics. See how much you understand. Use lyrics translate or musixmatch to find the translation.

Blind wine tasting

Listen to a song without reading the lyrics. See how much you understand. Come back to the lyrics if needed. But your goal here is to recognize the words and to understand the meaning of the song without reading the lyrics at the same time.

Hummingbird

Sing a song with the lyrics.

Baby Bieber

Sing a song without lyrics.

Interval training

Listen to a song without lyrics. If you can understand everything, then move up the ladder: Listen to the same song but at speed x1.25. Then at speed x1.5, and if possible x2. If it’s too challenging, then you can use lyrics when you raise the speed. The goal of this workout is to build your ear. Repetition is the key word. Learning a foreign language requires you to get exposed to the same words, the same patterns, hundreds or even thousands of times before truly integrating it.

If you can’t understand everything at normal speed, then take your time and repeat. Take a look at the lyrics. Listen to the song a couple of times while reading the lyrics. Then try again. You’ll get there little by little.

 

Videos

Couch potato

Watch videos with or without subtitles. Without much effort. Passive learning.

Fit couch potato

Watch videos with or without subtitles. Pay attention to what is being said. Learn new words thanks to the context. Look for words you can hear but don’t know the meaning. Always listen closely to notice the slightest nuances in pronunciation.

Mimicker

Watch videos with subtitles. Pause after each sentence (or every 5 seconds, or …), and repeat what you just heard.

Blind mimicker

Watch videos without subtitles. Pause after each sentence (or every 5 seconds, or …), and repeat what you just heard.

 

Speaking

Benny Lewis

Find a language partner in real life or on iTalki. Schedule weekly (or even daily) speaking sessions. The goal is to speak only in your target language. It doesn’t matter if you can’t say much yet. You can use Google Translate to get some help if needed.

Talkative talker

During a speaking session, challenge yourself to speak non-stop for a given period of time. For example, you have to speak non-stop for 30 seconds.

Freestyle

Improvise a few lines. Come up with rhymes. It doesn’t if you’re right or not. The goal here is to express and challenge yourself. Use the few words you know. Be playful.

 

Immersion

Idahosa Ness

Talk with natives of your target language. When they say something new to you, repeat what they’re saying to practice and assimilate new knowledge. Also, ask them what it means, if you can’t understand. And do all of this only speaking in your target language.

Moses McCormick

Go talk to strangers at a mall, in the street, … , and speak in their mother tongue.

 

Tools

Audacity (or any recording app) – Recording tool to listen to yourself, compare with native speech, and correct your pronunciation.

Forvo – Online pronunciation dictionary. Millions of words recorded by natives.

HiNative – App to ask any question you may have about your target language.

iTalki – Online platform to find personal tutors and language partners.

LyricsTranslate – Lyrics of your favorite songs and also translations. You can also add and request translations.

Musixmatch – Lyrics of your favorite songs and sometimes translations. I use Musixmatch when I can’t find what I want on LyricsTranslate.

YouTube – …