Tips for Learning a New Language

When you’re learning a second or third language, vocabulary is often taught as a combination of lists of words and exposure to the language through texts and conversations. However, beyond the first few hundred words, vocabulary is learnt better through exposure to the language, such as speaking or reading in the language. Experts say that to be able to speak a language well you need a vocabulary of 2500 words, so this takes quite a lot of exposure! 

The most popular second language in Canada, spoken in both business and leisure contexts, is French. French is also the primary language of several cities and states, and is one of the national languages of Canada. If you’d like to learn more about Canadian French, see our comparison between European and Canadian French (link to other blog). 

The difference between learning English and a second language in Canada is that levels of exposure to English are generally much higher – we are exposed to English in books, TV, Hollywood movies, international music and in most everyday situations. This is not the case with most second languages, which is part of the reason why learning them is often a much more lengthy process. However, there are ways that you can get around this!


Here are a few tips and tricks to increase your exposure to a second language:

  • Read magazines or online articles in the target language – in topics that interest you!
  • Read books in the target language, again on topics that interest you
  • Watch movies and series in the target language
  • Watch YouTube videos – music, cartoons, short movies, anything!
  • Read cartoons and comics in the target language
  • Listen to music in the target language
  • Speak to people in the target language


A few ways to aid learning another include:

  • Learning lists of words by saying them out aloud – limit this though, as it quickly becomes repetitive
  • Sticking labels or post-its on everyday objects
  • When reading, look up any new words in a bilingual dictionary or on Google translate. (Keep in mind that Google translate can be inaccurate for full sentences, but is great for single-word translations)
  • Practice breaking up words into smaller, more understandable parts – many words are a combination of several smaller words. Learn to identify these to help you understand new words more easily
  • Use language-learning software to make learning fun and accessible wherever you are. This can be a program you buy online, or an app on your phone


After you’ve learned the basics of the language, you can challenge yourself to improve even more by:

  • Study synonym pairs to quickly enhance your vocabulary
  • Study prefixes and suffixes for the same reason
  • Keep a diary in the target language
  • Learn a word of the day


Another important part of learning a second language is having the confidence to speak it, even if you make mistakes. There are a few things you can do to help you with this:

  • Learn phrases you can use in everyday conversation to quickly spark small talk
  • Practice your listening with casual conversations, asking people about their day, and listening exercises
  • Remember that you don’t need to speak the language perfectly to converse – you can ask for help at any point, or slip in an English word if they’re unsure of the right one in your target language
  • Make learning fun, rather than scary! Play games in the language, and build on what you already know
  • Repeat topics of conversation until you get comfortable discussing them
  • Remember that it will get easier, the more they practice. And practice make sure you practice!


As with anything else, learning a language takes time. Remember to make it fun and engaging, and to celebrate your small victories.


Written by Tessa Cooper, BrightSparkz Staff & Blog Writer

The BrightSparkz Story

Who Is BrightSparkz?

This is our story! We hope that the following 5 minute read will give you a little insight into our somewhat unconventional journey and inspire you to continue learning. Enjoy :)

In 2005, two Physiotherapy students at the University of Cape Town came up with an idea to start up a company that facilitated one on one home tutoring. One of these students, Amy, had been tutoring as a way to earn income as a student, and had seen an escalation in the requests for someone knowledgeable to assist with various school subjects as a form of supplementary learning support. In her 4th year, due to long practical hours, Amy was unable to accommodate the increasing requests, and started to look for suitable candidates to assist with some of the requests she had been getting. This started by offering these opportunities to her peers or asking if they knew of anyone who could help. Dominique’s entrepreneurial mind started ticking. This is how BrightSparkz Tutors was born!

BrightSparkz Tutors was officially registered and started operating in Cape Town, South Africa in January 2007, providing private one on one tutoring for Grades 1 – 12 for any examinable subject. The value came in the thorough screening of applicants during the recruitment process (including a one on one interview), as well as the careful matching of a tutor depending on each learner’s individual needs. Over the next few years, BrightSparkz opened branches in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Durban, as well as Online tutoring in more remote areas. We also started offering tutoring for a variety of university subjects, languages for children and adults, as well as corporate tutoring and training.

The ideas kept flowing and we couldn’t stop there! We established ourselves in the Concessions arena, being the first tutoring company to design and utilize our own course to train readers, scribes and invigilators, that is now recognized by educational bodies in South Africa. We have also done training sessions with tertiary invigilators at prominent universities and colleges.

Thereafter, we created our own Study Skills Crash Course – a 2 hour one on one session with a trained facilitator, aimed to impart relevant study and organizational technique based on an individual’s unique learning style. We’re also planning an exciting upgrade to this program before the end of 2020.

The next thing on our agenda was to create a flexible way to learn a language at home, with the option of a tutor if needed. Our Language Boot Camp series (now comprising 4 languages and 2 on the way!) are structured in a user-friendly way to learn a language incorporating voice clips and short quizzes to reinforce concepts, increase vocabulary and improve confidence in speaking. These courses are perfect for school learners, university students and beginner adults. You should try one!

What about learning support before kids even get to school? In 2018, we began working on Little Sparkz a program designed to prepare 3 – 5 year olds for Kindergarten, teaching the foundational literacy, numeracy, fine and gross motor skills needed in order to enter Kindergarten with confidence. This program, created and endorsed by Early Childhood Development specialists, aims to ensure school readiness upon completion of the two-level course, and can be completed at home with the help of a parent or caretaker.

What’s next for BrightSparkz? In 2020, we will be launching our exciting Mind The Gap, a course aimed to upskill high school learners, university students and recent graduates – anyone on the hunt for their first job for that matter. This comprehensive program covers everything from how to choose a field and job to suit your personality and lifestyle, to where to search and how to apply for jobs, crafting an impressive resume and cover letter, how to prepare for and conduct yourself in an interview, and how to successfully navigate your first few weeks in the workplace with professionalism. Mind The Gap set you up for success!

In June 2019, Amy and her family moved from Johannesburg to Ontario, and in December 2019, BrightSparkz Inc (Canada) was created. We’ll be starting our Canadian adventure with our Little Sparkz program, our Language Boot Camp series, and Mind The Gap (as soon as it’s ready).

Watch this space…

Written by Amy Stockwell, BrightSparkz Director & Founder