For most people learning a language doesn’t count as a hobby. It takes a lot of time and you probably don’t get to use the language that you actually like in your everyday life. For me, it’s the same. I live in Hungary but have always wanted to learn Russian. And I’m on it.
So, how can you learn a language as a hobby?
Pick your favorite
Look at all the languages and listen to some dialogues that you have found most appealing. That way you can see how much you like it before you start. This is very crucial, because if you choose one that’s actually too difficult or sounds weird to you, there will be zero motivation.
You need to like what you are learning, otherwise you won’t be able to do it.
Oh, and don’t forget that Latin, sign language and Morse code exists, these are all valid languages you can learn. You won’t use them as often, but they can look pretty good on a CV, for example.
Pick a platform where you can learn it
There are a couple of websites that offer the opportunity to learn languages for free. The most famous one being Duolingo. It’s easy to use and you can actually put your progress on your LinkedIn profile, which is great if you need to be multilingual for a job. This is the biggest advantage of using Duolingo.
If you want to learn for free then Busuu is also a good choice, although it doesn’t offer as many language options. The most common choices like English, German and Spanish are already there though. And there is the option to upgrade your account and get access to premium features.
Or, if you are willing to pay a good price for a great service, Italki is the way to go. This website gives you the option to have one on one lessons with native speakers. In my opinion, this is the best way to learn, but everyone has a different preference.
Although if you don’t like any of these I suggest looking for a couple more options. The internet is filled with them and I’m sure you will be able to get something you like.
Learning by yourself
If you don’t want to use an application or website then you also have the option to learn the language by yourself. There are many different ways to do this, so I highly recommend trying them all out because you never know what will work for you.
My favorite way is watching Youtube videos. There is a channel out there for every language, especially if you are a native English speaker. Just type in a few key phrases like “russian language learning” and boom, you will have hundreds of videos that can teach you grammar and vocabulary. Most of these are great and even give you tips and tricks on more difficult parts. If you want to learn sign language then this is the only way to do so. As of now I don’t know of any other website where you could learn such a thing.
The second best way also involves Youtube, but with this one you won’t be actively studying. The first thing you need to do is look up a channel in your target language that regularly has English captions on their videos. This works best if you already have a little knowledge about the language, because looking up every single word or only relying on the captions is not the right way. With this method you are supposed to recognize certain words and associate the sound of them with the way they are written in English.
And finally, journaling. Write a diary in your target language and have an entry every single day. I know, it will be hard, but you can do this even if you have zero knowledge about the language. Look up words and phrases in a dictionary (please, don’t use Google Translate, we all know how it messes up more difficult phrases). The best part of this is that you can look back on your progress by reading your diary.
What are the benefits to learning a language?
First of all, it’s one of the 6 types of selfcare. Learning a language is part of taking care of your intellect, as it stimulates your mind and makes you think. And generally speaking, you should want to keep your brain active and challenged whenever you can.
There are several technical parts too, though. The most important one is that you can put it on your resume. It will either help you get a job or it can possibly land you a promotion. Either way, it will be a financial gain. This goes double if you work in a position where you have to deal with people regularly.
My favorite part is that you will have a better time traveling to the place where your target language is spoken. This doesn’t include Latin, of course, but if you want to learn Spanish, for example, then you traveling experience there will be much better. I know, plans of this size might not be in your scope right now, but if you want to do it’s best to be prepared.
And come on, it’s fun to learn new languages!