There are a million and one tips out there about the best way to learn a language, so how are you supposed to know which ones to listen to? Well, we hate to break it to you, but there’s no single ‘best’ way to learn - it really comes down to you as an individual. But we’re gonna sing - - no, shout the praises for a way of learning we think is the bee’s knees. The Street Smart Way of learning.
What does being Street Smart *actually* mean?
In short: Not Book Smart! Now, we’re not dissing being Book Smart, but when it comes to learning a language, Street Smart kicks Book Smart’s ass. Being Street Smart means jumping in and giving it a go, exactly like you learned a language the first time around. Being Street Smart means absorbing the world around you, not shying away and consuming information through the eyes of a textbook. It means enriching your world through real language, real people and real experiences.
Alright, so what makes us such experts?
Our three-step process comes together to create a fool-proof method for Street Smart language learning. The first part requires our smart learning engine to come into play. It adapts to each individual learner, and creates a learning path based on the scenarios they choose to learn from. The second step is all about immersing yourself in language content that’s just a touch above your current level (challenging yourself is super Street Smart). And finally, faking it til you make it. Winging it a bit, if you will. Communicating with confidence and being understood by others is the third and final piece of the puzzle.
Quick PSA: It’s okay to feel like you kinda suck when you start learning!
If you think you’re bad at languages, we’re here to tell you you’re not. You’ve just not found the right way to learn yet. The most effective (and Street Smart) way to learn a language is to learn relevant words and phrases that meet your needs will help you to feel more knowledgeable in scenarios that are important to you.
How to learn a language, the Street Smart way
As you know, learning a language is all about you as an individual. But there are a few things you can do to amp up your learning, the Street Smart way. Spoiler alert: They’re all about you. For now, forget about Book Smart. Where we’re going, you don’t need it!
Learn words and phrases that are useful to YOU
Dedicating your learning time to topics like animals, colours, family members and numbers is NOT Street Smart. Sure, it’s fine you’re learning those to play 20 Questions in your new language (if you are, fair play - that’s dedication!) but that’s not going to help you when it comes to actually having a real-life conversation, which is the goal here.
What we’re saying is, you don’t have to go hoarding vocab like a linguistic Smaug. If you want to expand your vocabulary that way, by all means, you can go and learn the topics mentioned above. But to get around Paris, order a beer in Madrid or make friends with the locals in Berlin, learning conversational, real-life words and phrases is going to be way more important.
Fit learning into YOUR schedule
After a manic day taking care of the kids/ being at work/ simply existing, all you want to do is come home and CHILL. Learning a language the Street Smart way means fitting it into your schedule. For example, Memrise lets you set daily learning goals and reminders, so you don’t forget to complete a session, AND you can do it at a time that suits you. Learning little and often is the key here. There’s no need for a long, hard slog.
That's why a Learning Challenge might be just the thing for you. If you don’t want to commit yourself to an infinite stretch of learning, sign yourself up for a Learning Challenge! They’re usually set over a short amount of time and don’t take up much of your day, so you can still make progress, keep yourself motivated and on-track with learning.
Fake it til you make it
Ah, that old chestnut. As they say, confidence is the elixir of life (they don’t say that, we just made it up) but it’s hard to know how to start gaining that confidence. The good news is, when you’re learning the Street Smart way, you don’t need to be perfect to be understood. It’s all about diving in and giving it your all. You’ll make more progress by making someone laugh and allowing them to gently correct your mistakes than by memorsing the subjunctive!
Plus, we’ve got your back when it comes to mistakes. If you make a mistake when you’re learning new words, it’ll be marked as “Difficult Words”, and it'll be tested again with extra emphasis. This’ll form the beginnings of a home for the information to store itself in your brain.
Street Smart Learning IS: Learning real-life language that you *actually* need to know from native speakers, and having the confidence to give it a go so you can thrive in the real world.
Street Smart Learning ISN’T: Repeating robotic canned responses that sound like you swallowed a phrasebook, or ploughing through an old textbook just to pass a test.
With the Street Smart way of learning, you can forget about being Book Smart and achieve a lot, by learning just a little!