I Got 99 Problems But, Languages Ain’t One


Photo by JR Korpa


Have you ever tried an online language course but gave up halfway? Was the thought of memorizing all the grammar, vocabulary and also mastering the dialect a tad bit overwhelming? Honestly, learning a language is tough, and it is more challenging when you do it all on your own. However, through my years of learning, I have found a few things that have made the process a lot easier and more enjoyable.


Before we begin, let me share with you a bit about my language journey. I have been studying foreign languages by myself for six years, attempting to master European languages (Norwegian, German, Icelandic, to name a few). However, these languages are relatively uncommon. So early on, the pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar overwhelmed me at one point.


If carrying conversations and working through intricate pronunciation is an obstacle for you, having mock conversations with yourself is rather handy. Essentially, these “pretend” conversations are a great practice to know where your weak spots are. Plus, you can do it whenever, wherever! Just maybe not with people around because that might be awkward. According to Global Citizen, learning a language helps boost memory skills so that you can retain and process information better. Working through this, you will remember better on how to construct sentences, improve on conversational skills and boost your confidence when speaking too. It’s a win-win, really.



Photo by Thibault Penin


Using accessible media platforms is a great way to dive deeper and enhance your journey. For instance, listening to music, podcasts, or watching films and tv series in your target language is an engaging way to stimulate all your senses. Plus, it helps you better understand a country’s culture. According to the American University Center of Provence, learning a language can change the way you view the world. This unquestionably affects the way you perceive and express because you get to compare and contrast your country’s culture and a foreign country’s culture.


For example, suppose you learn German and watch a Netflix series like “Dark.” In that case, various moments in the episodes display popular culture in Germany. In one particular episode, there is a brief scene involving a trendy music genre in Germany during the 80s, which was thrash metal. Seeing things like this will make you wonder what was also popular at the time in Malaysia or elsewhere around the world.


Language apps are also incredibly helpful because they simplify lessons, making it easier to understand, and you can learn at your desired pace. Many people are aware of the popular language app, Duolingo, because it provides bite-sized teachings that can be done in a brief amount of time. But we have all heard the phrase “variety is the spice of life, so you can also check out other apps such as Memrise, Babbel and Busuu. All of these different platforms approach each language lesson uniquely, so there is something for everyone to try. Plus, in apps like Busuu, there’s an opportunity to talk to natives online and improve with them so yay for new friends and new skills!


These are a few ways I use to better my language journey, and I am sure they will be of help to you in some way, shape or form. Learning a language alone can be a pain because you do not know what you are getting right or wrong. Still, there are various mediums to explore and better one’s journey. There is no definitive guide on how to correctly learn a language, it is inevitable to make mistakes and go through a ‘trial-and-error’ period. As long as you learn from them and have fun along the way, that is the only thing that should count.


Lycka till! (good luck in Swedish)



By Kavitha Supramaniam







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