concept: I’m able to fluently express myself in a wide range of languages. The eyes of native speakers lighten up when they hear me speak their language, complimenting me on my skills. I have now access to culture and people in a way I never had before.
We all know that children speaking your target language is The Greatest Thing On This Earth so I decided to link some videos of children speaking different languages. Feel free to add, even if it’s another video in a language I’ve already linked!
I just recently found out that Buzzfeed has different websites for different countries, WHICH ALSO MEANS THAT THERE’S TONS OF READING MATERIAL IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES! This is really really good for reading practice, since the articles are short, the genre is familiar, and the topics are relevant and interesting. At the moment, there are only 6 languages available (including English).
Social media terms
Car interior and exterior
Food and drinks
Moods and feelings
Body and hair
Jobs and occupations
Essay terms and phrases
At the airport
New Year’s resolutions
Cooking and baking
Likes and dislikes
Country-specific holidays and traditions
Being a polyglot, I decided to make a post about how to study any language, Without further ado, here it is:
1) TRY TO STAY AWAY FROM ENGLISH
This is the most crucial step to studying/learning a new language. In order for your brain to pick up the new words and ideas, it needs to be more immersed in the language you’re learning. Now for most of us who are learning languages in school, that’s kind of hard, especially since most language classes do most of the work in English until you build a level of fluency. This is the primary reason why immersion programs or immersion schools are so much more successful in teaching a language: you’re forced to talk, write, speak, and think in the language you’re learning. Your brain makes connections faster and thus learns faster to understand and process the language. I would suggest that when you’re learning the language, whether it’s in class time or homework, try to work only in that language. Don’t automatically translate things into English because that’s only going to inhibit your process. Even if your knowledge of the language is limited, practicing thinking in the language, reading the language without translating, and speaking will greatly improve your progress. You’ll find yourself become more fluent and the language will flow rather than be halting because your brain is trying to translate things instead of thinking fluently.
2) LEARN AS MUCH VOCABULARY AS YOU CAN
Vocab is one of, if not the, most important aspect of learning a language. I would even go as far as saying it’s about 70-80% of effectively knowing a language. Think about it this way, if you’re at a restaurant and you’re asked to read the menu or if you’re out and you’re reading signs and advertisements, will knowing hundreds of verbs and their conjugations help you get by? Most likely not. Vocab on the other hand will make the difference between understanding and being totally clueless. If that example didn’t do it for you here’s another one: when you’re speaking to someone how can you express yourself if you don’t know the words? Chances are even if you know no grammar but know key words in the language someone will understand you. Most people don’t pay that much attention to grammar anyway when you’re speaking. As long as you have a basic understanding of it, you’ll be understood. I’m not saying that grammar isn’t important, far from it, but so many people underestimate vocab and focus on grammar and that hinders your learning. Try to learn as much vocab as you can because it will bring you one more step to being fluent. The key to knowing a language is to understand it to a high degree. You can’t understand if you don’t know the words. Find a list with the most common words in the language you’re learning and try to learn them all. Have a goal to learn 10-20 new words per day and you’ll go a long way. If you’re trying to learn vocab I would recommend to have a sheet with all the words you’re trying to learn and their definitions. Hide the words and try to write the vocab by seeing only the definitions. Writing down helps you remember and this method is foolproof. I’ve used it for 6+ years in French and it’s never failed me.
3) LEARN BASIC GRAMMAR
When I say basic grammar, I mean the typical verb tenses and some basic structures. This doesn’t mean learning every single verb conjugated in every single tense, but rather learning the patterns of grammar and how to apply them. Work smarter not harder. Learning the patterns makes it easier to recognize them when you’re reading and remember them when you’re writing. In my opinion, one fault with the way languages are taught in school is the way they teach grammar and how much time they spend on it. Most native speakers don’t worry as much about grammar as non-native speakers do. Again, I’m not saying grammar isn’t important because it is and you have to know it, but the way it’s taught ruins it. Try to make a chart with all the verb tenses and the patterns that go with the different types of verbs and then a list with the irregular verbs/exceptions. This should be enough to help you gain a basic mastery of grammar. If you know the basic rules, it will become second nature as you speak, write, and read more.
4) READ, LISTEN, AND SPEAK
The language you learn at school is very very different from the language actually spoken in its native country. Most of the language you learn is very formal while in real life, formality is disregarded to a degree and slang is prevalent. In order to build a fluency, you need to read and listen to the language in its natural form to pick up the slang and words that are actually used and not the archaic words that nobody ever says. Listen to music from that language, watch the news in that language, read a book or magazine in that language etc. This will again help your brain learn and process the language better. It will also help with vocabulary and general understanding. Children’s books are the best when you’re starting out. The language is simple and the grammar isn’t to complicated. Start with children’s books and then work your way up to novels and other forms of literature. Listening to the language is also crucial. Try to find mediums where the language is spoken and just listen. Don’t translate or stress yourself out trying to understand it all because you won’t the first couple of times. Just let it sink in. Gradually, you’ll find yourself understanding more and more and you’ll improve. With the speaking aspect, speak as much as you can. Don’t be embarrassed if you stumble, can’t express yourself as much as you would like, or have an accent. I also find that watching/reading/listening to translated works is helpful. Find your favorite book and read it in the language you’re learning, it will help you understand and learn more because you already know what’s going on and can focus on the vocab and grammar. Find your favorite movie and watch it in the language you’re learning. Again, it will help you learn more vocab. The more you practice the better it will get. If you distance yourself from speaking you’ll never improve. Balancing reading, listening, and speaking is the key to being successful.
5) DON’T BE AFRAID TO MESS UP
Nobody becomes fluent over night. Cliche but true. Don’t expect to instantly know everything. It’s normal to struggle and have trouble. Failing is part of the learning process and if you stop practicing because you’re afraid, you’re never going to learn anything. Let go of your fears and insecurities and go for it. If you fall down, pick yourself up and start again. Don’t be embarrassed if you mess up but rather learn from your mistakes and grow. The things we remember most are usually the things where we’ve messed up or had a negative experience with. So use the hiccups as a learning experience and your language skills will improve.
If you follow these steps, I’m confided that you’ll be better in no time :) The key is to enjoy what you do and have fun! Good luck!
I have been watching television/listening to music in my target lang as part of my immersion™ and I have found that, instead of focusing really hard on hearing a couple of words I know, it’s better to just relax and let the words flow.
For me, it’s a really hard habit to break. But if you just try it, you will start to hear words and phrases that you know and you aren’t missing further info that you would have if you were still stuck trying to translate the word you recognise. You will find that as time passes, the words will translate almost automatically.
Don’t focus. Just watch/listen. Like you do in your native lang.
Pocoyo is a Spanish-British pre-school animated television series. It is about Pocoyo, a 4-year-old boy, interacting with his friends Pato (a duck), Elly (an elephant) and Loula (a dog). Viewers are encouraged to recognize situations that Pocoyo is in, and things that are going on with or around him.
Every time I tell people I’m learning another new language they make me feel bad like I can’t learn them at the same time. Like hello this is my passion, this is all I care about, this is my life. Don’t tell me I can’t do it. I can do anything I want. You can do it too. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something you love. It doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as you never give up.
These are photos from my favourite bookshop in London: Foyles.
This is the foreign language floor! Yes, floor not section 😁 The last photo shows the Italian and German grammar, vocabulary, etc., not including the literature! There is another full side for Italian alone. You can also see Portuguese, Russian and Greek, plus the aisle for Korean, Japanese, and Chinese.
Not featured: the Nordic languages section, Ancient Greek, Latin, Polish, French, Spanish, English, Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi, Afrikaans… And so on and so on. Too many for me to remember.
If you visit London and you love languages, I really recommend that you visit.
(If you don’t have time to read everything, I’ve highlighted the important stuff in bold, just read bolded words for a quick overview of my review.)
So I’m here to talk to you about Drops, a semi-recent language learning app available for free on iOS mobile devices. And no, I’m not being paid or anything, I’ve just been messing around with it for a couple weeks now and I thought it would be useful to share my own personal experience and opinion of the app.
So, Drops is really specifically a vocabulary builder, so don’t show up expecting grammar. You will get verbs, though so far they’ve all been conjugated in first person. It sorts the vocabulary by topics, however the app itself is cumulative, so say for example I go to study essentials, it will primarily focus on the vocab of that lesson, however I may still get the occasional vocab word from any other lesson I’ve studied, and of course, only the specific words I’ve been introduced to from each lesson.
You start out with everything but the first category unlocked, when you first open it it asks if you’re a beginner or intermediate, I have no clue what happens if you click intermediate, honestly. When you’re on the categories screen (above), the clock is always stopped. And when you click a lesson and study for like three minutes but then want to go to another lesson for the last two minutes the clock will always stop on the category screen and you can think about what else you want to study without a deadline creeping up on you.
Drops also requires no typing (but that doesn’t mean no spelling, you get it other ways), and, as I’m currently using Japanese, I think it does a fairly decent job at introducing you to non-latin writing systems; however, it should absolutely be supplemented with other resources for learning the script. It phases you in slowly and uses a lot of romanizations, but after a word has come across your screen a couple of times it’ll start asking you to spell it in the proper alphabet. At first it’ll split the word up into like two big parts and eventually you’ll be down to putting it down by syllables or even letters. The groupings it chooses are sometimes random and a bit confusing to put together, even if you know the word, which I dislike. Also know, romanizations can be turned off at any time in the settings menu. Which I haven’t done yet so I don’t know what it’s gonna look like when I do but know that it’s an option.
The pronunciation audio I think is really good. For Japanese I’m pretty sure it’s a native speaker and not like a robot or some random British guy who knows IPA. The audio repetition is constant, so if you fill in the solution you will hear the word spoken each and every time, no exceptions. There is also no heart loosing features of any kind so wrong answers will not get penalized in any way. But when you get one wrong they will repeat the correct answer for you right after.
I also think it has compelling imagery. Everything is in the form of icons (not pictures), so it’s really clear EXACTLY what it’s supposed to be. Several of them, particularly for verbs, even have small animations. Like the one for “I eat” is a guy sitting at the table and his arm moves back and forth between the plate and his mouth, so, like eating. So very simple overall. And if you ever forget what a particular icon is supposed to be, you can always tap and drag/hold and the English will pop up. Here’s one of my favorite icons.
So overall I think it’s a cute little app. It will advertise constantly trying to get you to buy a subscription, I honestly don’t think it would be worth it unless they literally had the deal of the century and you’re rich. Also timing wise 5 minutes goes by incredibly fast but for me rarely feels like it wasn’t enough. I really like the ability to choose categories and not be locked into it until I finish lest the owl get angry (*cough cough* duolingo), so there’s a lot of freedom of movement in that, and the more categories you unlock the more versatility you get. You’re also not required to so all 5 minutes in one go. So if you only want to go for three, you totally can. My biggest complaint is that their like “5 minutes each day” is set for like a day to mean 10 hours, not 24, so sticking with any kind of streak is basically impossible. So, yeah, don’t like that. The absolute best feature they have though, is that when you finish your 5 minutes you get like a waiting screen with a timer until you can play again and a list of every word you encountered in your last 5 minute session. This page forgoes romanizations, and if you tap on an icon you can hear the word pronounced and see the English. Super useful so you can review after the lesson without wasting precious seconds writing vocab down while the timer is going. The notification is a bit guilt-trippy, just a warning.
BEST USES: Overall I think this app works really well as a fun little vocabulary builder. The fact that it mixes in vocab from other lessons (including lessons after the category you’re on and not just before) is extremely helpful and not something I’ve seen in any other app. Also the vocab list feature is mad supreme so love that, also haven’t seen anyone else do it. As it offers little in the sense of grammar or culture, it obvs cannot (and should not) be used as any kind of stand alone language learning method.
I also particularly think that this app would be super useful to people having trouble studying either because they’re super busy, or because they have depression, anxiety, or any other illness that makes simple things for neurotypicals or otherwise able people suddenly way more difficult to accomplish. It’s so low-key, and it only asks for 5 minutes that you don’t even have to give it all in one go, that it’s a nice way to keep language fresh in your brain and still get some extra vocab in when you just can’t bring yourself to do any kind of proper sit down studying.
Drops is currently available in
Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, French, German, Russian, Portuguese or Italian. But as Japanese, Chinese, and Korean are actually pretty recent additions, they will hopefully continue expanding into more languages.
I’m going through a language crisis and my mind keeps switching between three different moods. Like…
The “overachiever”: Only focus on French and make this the year where I completely immerse myself in the language and try to get to an approximately C1/2 level by the end of 2017.
The “stick to the plan”: Keep focusing on French (it’s really bae #1 tbh) and then work on Chinese and Russian at a slower pace like I said I would.
The “lol sod it mate”: Do I really want Chinese? Do I really want Russian? Naw lets learn Japanese instead cos yolo. And maybe German while I’m at it. But oh yeah hold up I really do want Chinese and Russian just catch ‘em all. PS don’t forget le français ya language ho.
And really I’ve been stuck in mood 3 for the past week and I don’t know what to do with myself.