Language classes in college can be pretty intensive and may include labs, field trips or a strict no-English policy in the classroom and when communicating with your professor. But unless you’re studying abroad, you still aren’t practicing enough of the time to become totally fluent.
If you’re serious about learning all the nuances and building an expansive vocabulary in a new language, you need to find ways to supplement your official coursework.
Music and Movies
Watch movies and listen to music made by artists who speak the language you’re learning. Visit independent movie theaters, or just download or rent them.
You can also check your campus library’s multimedia section if you don’t have Netflix and your local DVD store isn’t well-equipped and iTunes doesn’t have the foreign music you like.
If you can, download the Pandora app to your smartphone or music to your iPod so that you can listen to it wherever you go.
Foreign-language audio books also give you excellent practice, especially as you listen to speech patterns, inflections and pick up on new vocabulary.
Podcasts also keep you updated on current events and pop culture in the country of the language you want to learn, and are free to subscribe to. Listen to the news, a cooking podcast, or life hacks podcast: pick a subject you’re honestly interested in and want to learn more about, and that way you’ll stick with the program and become a more engaged listener.
For a less tech-y experience, head to Barnes & Noble (or online) to pick up foreign magazines. Foreign fashion magazines are often sold at bookstores.
Also ask your professor for links in the community, like cultural groups that have centers with foreign language materials, sponsor ethnic events, and offer extra classes or meetings during which you can practice your language.
Surrounding yourself with as many native speakers as possible — through film, music, podcasts or in real life — will give you the best language education possible.