First of all, I apologize for being away for so long and not updating with new blog entries. From now on I will try to keep it updated on a regular basis.
The previous blog entry was about way of improvinga foreign language which are certainly pricey and sometimes unaffordable for many people. So, I’m going to give those of you who can’t take up on those activities or prefer simple ones that can be carried out in your local area.
The following are activities or things that I’ve done myself and I can tell they work and help you to improve.
- Reading books
If you like reading, or despite you don’t like it, reading books in the language you are learning is a great way of widening your vocabulary, learning new expressions, slang – which is very important in the everday usage of the language-, and after some time reading books you will notice how much you’ve learned through it. If you take it seriously, try underlining those words you don’t understand not even by the context of the sentence or paragraph and look them up in a dictionary. You can write the answer above the word in the book so it’s easier for you to read through and it will help you remember the meaning of that word until it becomes part of your vocabulary.
- Movies / TV in other languages or subtitled
I’m sure many of you think you are not capable of going through a whole movie in other languages because you think you won’t understand anything. Nowadays, thanks to DVDs, we have the opportunity to watch a movie in several languages within the same disc. Try watching the movie in the chosen language using subtitles in the same language too. If it’s still too complicated for you, start by using subtitles in your language which will help you understand the dialogue you are listening to. After some time challenge yourself and start using subtitles in the foreign language you are learning and also try watching without any subtitles, you will see that after some time your ear gets used to the language and, even though you may not understand every single word, it will have become definitely easier than it was. It also helps you learn new expressions, words and such.
Yes! Music helps too! How many of you like music in some language and sing along to it without having a clue about what you are really singing? This might not be usual but when I was younger I used to try to get the lyrics by ear and write them down as a way of improving my listening comprehension. It does help a lot. Back then we didn’t have all the lyrics on the internet like we do now, so use it as a helping tool. Try to write down the lyrics, try to understand them, and when you can’t fill the blanks look the lyrics up on the internet and listen to the song again focusing on those parts you didn’t understand. You will know what you’re singing about and you will be improving your listening comprehension!
The world is connected through a virtual net, we can meet people from all over the world through a little screen. If you travel and you meet people ask them for their email and keep the contact through IM. If you don’t, you can visit chats or websites that are specifically to exchange cultural and linguistic interests like Phrasebase.com where you can help others learn your native language and learn with them other languages, get learning material, and others. As a matter of fact, chatting with people in a foreign language helps improving your fluency, you become a faster thinker as you get used to the language and suck in all the information you use on an everyday basis.
A tandem is a cultural and liguistic exchange between two people. The easiest way of finding people who want to do a tandem is checking at language academies or in universities, there are people who hang adverts offering themselves or there are programs organized by universities like the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. You can talk with the person in question and agree on where you will meet, either a cafeteria or wherever you choose, and you can start sharing your knowledge about your language and culture with them as well as learn from theirs using both languages. It’s a cheap and easy way of learning!
Hope these highlights are useful for you all, keep learning!