Today’s episode is based on an Instagram question from Iye, who is learning Norwegian. This is a popular enough language, but not one of the big ones exactly - with 5 million speakers, this language only has official status in Norway.
Anyway, Iye found that learning a lesser known language comes with the challenge of finding great materials for that language. So she wondered
Do you have any tips for how I can go about creating my own language learning materials?
Listen to this episode of the Fluent Show to find out all about making your own materials to power up your language learning routine.
Why Make Your Own?
There is one big and obvious reason: because there aren’t any.
For example, Ajeng from our FB group is learning Maori and says it’s hard to get good sources especially as someone living away from the country. Fewer websites, fewer videos.
Fran (learning Sicilian) say “It’s such a struggle to keep motivated because you can’t just pick up a book or watch a show or film”
There may even be materials, but they don’t always fall in with your preferred learning style.
Even if you are a learner of a big language like Spanish or French, you will still get so many benefits out of creating your own materials.
A Nod To Bloom's Taxonomy
It is best practice in the field of pedagogy to work upwards from hearing new information towards creating with it. Trained teachers may remember reading about Bloom's Taxonomy for example, which puts creation at the top of any learning process.
When you go ahead and make your own notes, flashcards and resources, you are adapting language learning to your own personal learning style and needs. Creation is a huge part of the learning process.
The Different Levels of Creation in Language Learning
In the podcast, you can hear about three different ways of starting to create your own language learning materials. So let's take a look at ideas for doing it.
Journaling / Notebooks : Document Life & Study
Try a Language Journal
Make notes on vocabulary, track your studies, write a diary, create your personal notes in this language. Definitely make your own flashcards.
You don’t need to because the internet and your materials have you covered, but do your own notes always make the most sense? HELL YES.
- Always write down vocabulary no matter where you hear it - make your own flashcards instead of using pre-made decks
- Copy sentences and lines from any other sources that you find interesting, notes from lessons, document your own learning journey. Annotate with what you need (for example pronunciation notes as long as necessary). It’s YOURS
- Hire someone to create transcripts or translate sentences into your target language or into English (Andy’s idea)
Documenting Life & Study
This goes one step further from the last step, and means you organise more and start to truly create! Many of these ideas were inspired by a thread in the Fluent Language Learners - join us and join the conversation!
At this level, start curating materials in your target language to produce your own collections. For example, write a vocab list on a specific topic or collect an online folder of recipes to cook from.
This is also where you start creating - making videos or writing sentences, figuring out how to produce more in your target language.
Here's what other language learners are doing:
- John from the forum asks himself “How can I describe this in French/Spanish/German?" and uses these as real-life prompts
- Fran (Sicilian learner) records every Skype lesson and all her notes - she doesn't have a lot of materials available through YouTube, so getting more out of her lessons this way creates materials through conversations
- Fran also copies out texts etc from Italian text books and translates from Italian into Sicilian, or use them as a basis for making up a text for herself
- Ajeng tries to analyse and compare sentences in her target language Maori to figure out the grammar, then writes in Maori and asks for corrections from native speakers
- Lindsay (and I, a little) write using creative writing prompts as you heard on our top tools episode
Dare To Teach Your Language
Once you’re at an intermediate level, you have something to pass on to others. Teaching a language is an incredible way of learning it, and there are thousands of ways to get started.
Why not try to offer a short lesson at your local library - your attendees may even know someone who’s further along than them.
Many apps and textbooks are created from this need, for example HelloTalk and Clozemaster. And for Irregular Endings, the passion for languages became a unique stationery company. If you have the skills and confidence, this could be a way for you to go.
Are You Feeling Inspired?
Creating your own materials will help you learn faster and better, so it's definitely worth a try. When you plan your next language goals or think about the weeks ahead, ask yourself where you could build in a little bit more creation.
If you're feeling stuck and want a little more inspiration about creative language learning, check out my 1-to-1 language coaching sessions for individual support.