How to Learn a New Language on Your Own

Whether you dozed through college French or loved it and then promptly forgot everything, you’re probably aware of the increasing demand for bilingual and multilingual job applicants. No matter what field you’re studying or working in – health services, teaching, technology, business – learning even a little bit of a second (or third) language is a great way to improve your resume and make yourself more marketable as an employee.


But if you don’t remember much from your previous language classes, you might not be sure where to start – and that’s okay! Learning a language on your own is very different from learning in the classroom, and it may take some time for you to figure out which methods work best for you. Here are few steps, though, to help you get started:


  1. Choose your language. The first thing a lot of people think of when they want to learn a new language is how many speakers it has, and that makes sense. But it does you no good to learn a language with millions of speakers if none of them live or work near year. Instead, consider why you want to learn a language in the first place. Maybe you’ll choose Spanish or French to be able to communicate better with patients, or Chinese or German for your business. If you’re just learning for fun, think about a culture or country that you’re interested in or would like to travel to.
  2. Get your materials. You’ve got lots of options here. Sure, you could shell out a lot of money for a full program, but it can be a lot to pay if the course ends up not working for you. If you’re short on cash, or just want to try the language out before committing, there are lots of free resources online to choose from – sites like Duolingo and Memrise make learning into a game, and it’s so easy to find an online dictionary or two to help you learn vocab.
  3. Be flexible. Once you’ve got your materials, it’s important to frequently evaluate them and make sure they’re still working for you. Fun, game-like learning sites are great for some people, but you might find that you’d work better with a textbook or workbook, both of which you can find online (depending on how much you want to pay). And don’t be afraid to add new tools to your toolbox – once you’ve gotten the hang of how the language sounds, try searching for music or podcasts to get some listening practice.
  4. Talk with native speakers. I know this post is about learning a language on your own, but there really is no substitute for practicing your skills with a native speaker. If you’re lucky, you might have a friend or neighbor who can help you out, but there are plenty of resources online to help you find speakers in your community or even over the internet if you can’t meet up in person.
  5. Stick with it. Making your learning a habit is the biggest step – it’s all to easy to have a week or so of high motivation only to be followed by almost giving up entirely the next week. It won’t happen overnight, and it certainly won’t happen very quickly (or even at all) if you don’t put time into it. Try to devote at least 15 to 30 minutes a day to it, wherever you can fit it in, even if it’s just listening to music as you make dinner.


There are so many benefits to learning a second or third language, regardless of the reason – not only will you have a skill that can be incredibly helpful in your job and looks great on your resume, it can also make travelling more fun and is great for your brain. While it can be intimidating to go it alone, without the comfort of a teacher and a classroom around you, learning a new language on your own doesn’t have to be hard!

Keeping up with Current Events in College

We live in a world where we’re surrounded by news every day – on our phones, on our computers, on television screens and newspaper headlines and through word of mouth. The news is all around us, but how often do we take the time out of our busy days to really focus on what’s actually happening around the world, or even in our own towns? But it’s important to know what’s going on in the world, so here are a few tips to help you stay informed:


1.     Look beyond social media. Sure, it’s easy to get your news from Facebook or Twitter, but so often all we see as we’re scrolling is headlines. And headlines aren’t enough to be informed about the news. They’re eye-catching, of course, but often misleading, and sometimes totally false. Social media is a great tool when it comes to connecting with friends and family around the world, but it shouldn’t be your only source of news.

2.     Read the paper. I know, I know – in the middle of our busy lives, who has time to sit down and read the newspaper anymore? But newspapers are a great way to stay informed while unplugging from your phone or computer for a while. Many colleges have subscriptions to major newspapers and magazines, which means you can often find a copy for free in your school’s library or student center.

3.     Turn on the TV. This is another traditional way of getting the news, but it’s still a good one if you want to be able to multitask. Watch the news while you fold laundry, for example, or turn on your local station while you’re getting ready in the morning. If you don’t have access to a TV in your apartment or dorm, most colleges have a student center or lounge spaces where you have control over the remote.

4.     Plug in your headphones. Podcasts are an increasingly common way to stay up to date on what’s going on in the world. You might already be into podcasts, and for good reason – just put in your headphones on your way to class or while you’re working out at the gym, and multitasking becomes so much easier. Plenty of major news publications have podcasts that will keep you up to date, so you can find one that works for you.

5.     There’s an app for that. Whether you want to get your news from a specific source (or two or three) or you want a compilation of multiple news sources, there are plenty of apps out there that can help you stay updated on current events. Put it on the home screen of your phone so you don’t forget about it, and try to make it a part of your daily routine to see what’s going on in the world.

6.     Check your email. Once again, a lot of major news organizations have a newsletter that you can sign up for, sending a roundup of top news stories to your inbox daily or weekly. This is a great way to get an overview of what’s going on in the world, but once again you shouldn’t stop there. Usually each brief snippet will be followed by a link to an article or two where you can keep reading, so take advantage of that!


As college students, it’s easy to feel like we live in a bubble, disconnected from what’s going on in the world away from school and class. But it’s so important to be informed about what’s happening in the world and there are lots of ways to do it, so find one that works for you!

The Benefits of Being an Early Riser

Everyone likes sleeping in, right? Sometimes it seems like there’s nothing better than curling up under the covers and going back to sleep, knowing that you don’t have to get up for a while. But if you’ve ever had to rush to get ready before work or class and felt the pressure of not having enough time, you know how nice it would be to have a little extra time in the mornings. Still, just the idea of setting your alarm even earlier might be enough to make you start yawning. But as hard as it may be at first, there are lots of perks that come from getting up just a little bit earlier in the morning!


  1. More time to adjust. Let’s be honest – it can take a few hours after your alarm goes off for you to really feel ready for the day. And if you’re waking up too late, that could mean that you’re not feeling ready until you’ve already been in class or at work for a while. Setting your alarm a little earlier (or a lot earlier, if you’re really ready to make a change) can give you more time to “wake up” before you need to be ready for the day, helping you be more productive when you do get to work or school!
  2. Start your day with breakfast. How many of us have skipped breakfast at least once when we were running late or just “too busy” to eat? Probably too many of us. We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and taking the time to start your morning by eating breakfast can help kickstart other healthy eating habits throughout your day. When you’re getting up earlier than normal, you won’t have the same excuse that you’re too busy or running late, making breakfast a part of your routine again!
  3. Get more done. Depending on how much extra time you want to give yourself in the morning, you could even spend that time getting some work done before your day even starts. If you feel more productive in the morning, that can be a great time to get ahead on homework or start a work project. Not only will you start your day on a productive note, you’ll also free up time later on that you can use for other things!
  4. Enjoy some alone time. Even the most extroverted people can find that they need some time to themselves occasionally. Even if you live with family or roommates, early mornings are a great time to spend some “me time,” in whatever way works for you, even if it’s just enjoying your coffee in silence.
  5. Get some exercise. If you’re having trouble sticking to a workout routine, getting up earlier than usual to get your exercise can be a great help. While it’s easy to come up with excuses in the afternoon or evening after work or class, those same excuses don’t work nearly as well first thing in the morning. Without all the distractions that come up during the day, you’ll be able to stick to your workout and start your day off right!


While getting up earlier in the morning often means you need to go to bed a little earlier the night before, this can be a great choice for several reasons. Not only will this restore your body’s natural sleep schedule, helping you feel more energized and rested, you’ll also have time to do other things that you normally have trouble fitting into your day. The idea of setting your alarm even earlier sounds awful, I know, but it can be a great way to get more done and start making other healthy choices!


The Value in Embracing Your Weaknesses

If you’ve ever been in an interview setting, you may have been asked to describe one (or more) of your weaknesses. That’s a scary question for a lot of people, either because they don’t know what their weaknesses are or because they don’t want to admit the weakenesses to themselves (or to other people). And that’s understandable, since we naturally want to present the best version of ourselves. However, acknowledging and embracing our weaknesses is incredibly beneficial in several ways.


The most obvious one, of course, is that recognizing the areas where we’re struggling can help us figure out where we need to put in more effort. Working hard to improve in these areas is important, but you can’t do that if you don’t know what they are! Taking a little time to really think about your weaknesses and what’s holding you back can help you in the long run. For example, if you know that procrastination is a problem for you and this is something that is negatively affecting your life, it will be much easier to avoid it and try to break that habit.


Even if you don’t think you can fully overcome your weaknesses, knowing what they are can also help you find ways to work around them. While it’s important to acknowledge and understand your weaknesses, it’s also important to focus just as much on your strengths. While none of us are perfect, we all have areas where we excel and traits and habits that help us succeed. Being fully aware of all your strengths and weaknesses can help you find ways to use your strengths to help you work around your weaknesses.


Finally, acknowledging and understanding your weaknesses is helpful because it allows you to ask for help when you need it. If you know you’re not great at editing your own papers, you can seek out resources that will help you improve or find someone who is good at it to assist you. Asking for help is just as hard as acknowledging the things we struggle with, but it’s so, so important.


It’s never fun to reflect on our weaknesses – often we’re all too ready to lay the blame on something (or sometimes somebody) else when we mess up or don’t succeed. But our weaknesses are part of who we are just as much as our strengths are and failing to recognize them means we never learn from them. Embracing our weaknesses is never an easy thing to do, but the benefits make it absolutely worth it!