6 Ways to Learn a New Language in Retirement

Are you considering learning a new language? Perhaps you've been trying and discovered how challenging it can be. As we discussed in a recent blog, 7 Reasons to Learn a New Language in Retirement, it can be incredibly beneficial for your physical, mental, and even emotional health. So, where should you start, and how can you actually achieve skills in understanding and speaking a foreign language? Read on for several tactics that are all proven to be very helpful in learning a new language:

Top Ways to Learn a New Language in Retirement

  1. Watch Movies

    Movies have been an increasingly popular way to learn a new language. In fact, many language students are even required to watch movies in foreign languages to increase exposure and familiarization with the language. Watching a foreign language film not only helps you learn a new language but can also be very enjoyable and entertaining. You will develop a greater sense of the culture of that country as well. If you don't have enough knowledge of their language to understand much, you can turn on the subtitles. Consider trying both methods:

    • Watch foreign-language films with English subtitles. This helps improve your listening comprehension.
    • Turn foreign-language subtitles on while watching movies in English. This assists your reading comprehension and might make it easier to follow the plot and enhance vocabulary.

    While you are practicing either of these methods, try to remember the words and phrases and their meanings. Try to write down the words you heard and repeatedly look at them until you memorize them.

    Click here to learn about the best platforms to stream movies!

  2. Try Social Media

    hand drawn texture globe with social media diagram on laptop computer as internet conceptSocial media continues to play an increasingly significant role in the lives of people of all ages. There are many social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok, and more to follow the celebrities, brands, and influencers you like. It is now a common trend for celebrities to write captions for their posts in their native language. You can also find people, companies, and even news sources that primarily write in the language you are trying to learn. You can read their posts, captions, statuses, and comments. There are many informative language pages, as well. You could even join social media groups and benefit from communities of other people trying to learn the same language.

    Again, learning a language is not a sprint or a short-term goal. It requires repeated exposure and practice. Seeing and reading news and updates in a foreign language will train your brain to understand the new language better. Bonus: Learning a new language through social media will also help you enhance your tech-savvy skills!

    Check out our ebook - Social Media 101: A Guide for the 50+ Generation, to learn more about getting started!
  3. Take Online Courses

    Another very efficient way to learn a new language in retirement is to participate in an online course. There are many courses online that teach foreign languages for any level of learning. These courses allow you to stay home and receive professional and personal instruction, which is the motivating factor for many in learning a new language. Language learning can be challenging, especially if you have never studied a foreign language before. Receiving regular and personalized assistance might be just what you need to persevere and get to the next level with your foreign language skills. Some courses are paid, but there are plenty of free classes to sign up for free.

    Study.com provides a list of top free online foreign courses - check it out here!


    Smiling asian businessman listening to music in office
  4. Listen to Music

    Music is considered to be one of the best language-learning tools, as well. Any type of music, as long as it has lyrics, can be helpful in language learning. Listening to music in a foreign language not only increases exposure but is also effective because the music can be repetitive, catchy, and sticks in your mind. Songs are commonly used in language classes to help students memorize new words.

    Often, even more helpful than finding songs in the language you are learning, you can find your favorite English songs in other languages. That way, you already know the lyrics and what the song is about, so it is easier to understand the new vocabulary the song is teaching you. So, play the songs that you love in the language you are learning. Play it over and over until you understand its lyrics. The repetition with a catchy tune is a perfect combination to learn new words, phrases, and structures of the language.

    Click here to learn more about the benefits of listening to music!

    Learn more about where to stream music here!
  5. Mobile Apps

    Many mobile apps have proven to be very helpful in learning a new language. Mobile apps provide a step-by-step guide to learning a new language. All you need to do is go to your Play Store and search for the mobile app for the language you want to learn. You will get many suggestions. Install one of the apps and enjoy learning a new language in simple and easy steps. These are particularly popular because the apps are very accessible from anywhere, generally only take a few minutes a day, and are often free. They also evolve with your learning, tracking your progress and providing challenges accordingly.

    Check out this list of the best mobile apps from CNET to learn a foreign language.

  6. Travel! 

    Beautiful landscape through aircraft window onto jet engineTraveling is not only a way to explore the world, but it is also the best way to experience new cultures. One of the most amazing benefits of traveling is the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new language. When traveling to a foreign country, it is significantly more motivating to learn the local language. Often, without it, it is hard to navigate your way around the city, read signs, ask questions, or even do things like order food. Being outside of your comfort zone in situations like this forces you to learn a language more quickly, and the constant exposure makes it even easier.
What do you think? What is your favorite way to practice a new language?