How I Started Learning a New Language...


Living Music by Justine | June Edition

As someone who loves reading and writing, I’ve dreamed of speaking another language. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a priority for me as a young teenager, so I dropped French at school. 


I regretted this when I started working as a lyricist. I’ve wanted to write lyrics in a second language for a long time. Last year, I took the plunge and started learning! Here’s how…


  • Duolingo

I began by using Duolingo. I love this program because it focuses on the language as a whole. Some programs prioritise touristy questions, like “what time is the bus?” and “where are the toilets?” This is useful and all, but I don’t want to write lyrics about buses and toilets!


Thanks to a recent update, there’s a short French lesson before each level. This helps me get a better grasp on the language.



Duolingo is free, and can be used on desktop and/or mobile. Many languages are available, so it’s worth checking out.  


  • Tinycards

When I began learning French, I spent more time on Tinycards than Duolingo. Tinycards teaches individual words, rather than sentences. I have a good memory, so I took to Tinycards like music to lyrics!


By learning thousands of French words first, I could focus on understanding the grammar and sentence structure with Duolingo. 


  • Practice every day

This is beyond important. Just do five minutes on busy days. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.


A few years ago, I was learning Italian. I lost all my progress because I didn’t maintain regular practice. 


When I returned to language in April 2018, I decided to learn French because it’s more widely spoken, plus I wanted a fresh start. Since then, I’ve practiced every day for nearly 14 months (bar the odd naughty day here and there.) 


I’ve learnt at least 4500 French words and I’m gradually getting a better understanding of how the language works. Regular practice is the reason for this. 


Do You Need Lyrics to Set to Music?

If you like starting with lyrics, and want to collaborate with a lyricist, please browse my work on Songbay. If you find a lyric you like, you can license it online. I license each lyric only once. After you claim a lyric, I remove it from Songbay and it's exclusively yours to use.​


  • Be a chatterbox

Practicing with native speakers is invaluable. You might be able to do this in your local area using Meetup. Alternatively, practice with other learners. 


I practice with a friend who is also learning. She used to live in France – an added bonus! Learning with someone else is fun socially, and develops your speaking and listening skills. Plus you can help each other; one may understand something the other does not. 


That’s how I got started! I plan to make this a series on the blog, so please subscribe to stay with me on my French journey. 


Are you learning a language? Would you like to? Let me know!


You can now support my blog on Patreon. My patrons get discounts on my lyric writing services. Regular clients can make big savings this way. To learn more, here’s a blog post on why I joined Patreon as an indie lyricist.

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