Wow – if this space isn’t more deserted than a desert (pun intended), I don’t know what is!
With many new assignments and interesting new projects going on lately here at Carel, I hadn’t even realized a whole month has surreptitiously slipped by since my last post on here! Well, time to rectify that – with yet another piece of our Practical tips for learning a language series.
Read lots of books (in the foreign language): I cannot stress enough how important this is for learning a foreign language. Because learning a foreign language is not just about knowing lots of words and understanding its grammar – it is so much more than that. Books help you develop your “sense” for the language in an astounding number of ways – it enriches your speech, improves the way you express yourself in the foreign language, helps you click into the language with a greater ease, to name just a few. Some might say – OK, but surely I can only start reading books after I’ve gotten to an advanced level? That’s the beauty of it – you do NOT have to wait until you are proficient at a language in order to start reading books in it. In fact, the sooner you start reading, the faster you will get to that proficiency level you are after.
I remember trying to read my first books in English back in Foreign language school – I was nowhere near advanced, let alone proficient at the time, but I somehow felt this would be a great help. And it was – no matter how annoying it would get, what with all the flipping through dictionaries every now and then, looking up yet another unknown word! And mind you, that was back in the days when there were no computers yet – imagine the amount of time you could spend on a single page of the book, having to stop and open the dictionary every now and then like mad! Eventually though the amount of unknown words will decrease to a point you will no longer need to look anything up, so be patient and just read and read and read. It will pay off big time.
Watch subtitled movies (and listen to the original foreign-language speech).
I loved doing that in my school days – I even sometimes used to turn my back to the TV screen so that I don’t unwittingly look at the Bulgarian subtitles while listening to the English speech. My mom would smile at me in amusement, probably wondering about me and my learning ways.
To date I still prefer watching subtitled movies over such dubbed in Bulgarian.
Practice speaking any chance you get: Now, I realize that this might not be that feasible when you have a full-time job that does not require you to speak the language, and then there are also family and other social commitments in your life that additionally squeeze your free time down to zero. But speaking is the most important of all activities that language learning entails – so you have to make time for practicing if you’re really bent on learning that language.
Be creative, use any moment you can to speak – for example in the morning, while sipping your coffee and thinking about all the things on your to-do list for the day – think about them out loud and in the foreign language. Yes, that means talking to yourself, I know – a notion not everyone might appear to be comfortable with – but it’s the next best thing when you have no one to speak to.
It’s a well-known fact that speaking a language is a lot harder than simply understanding it – and can only be accomplished by practicing speaking as much and as often as possible.