Travel & Language
Essays on travel, language and learning.
In college, I dual-majored in Spanish and English. While I sometimes dreaded having to write an English essay, I always loved doing my Spanish assignments. I actually looked forward to it. Yes. I looked forward to homework. Learning a language can be really fun. In fact, it should be fun. Studying a language is like solving a puzzle. It’s a wonderful feeling when the pieces come together. For many language study can be extremely frustrating, especially when you are introduced to grammatical concepts that you aren’t even aware of in your own language, or when you can only pick up one or two words of what a native speaks says to you. Learning a language takes some time, yes, but that doesn’t mean it has to all be work. Here are some fun things I like to do when learning a new language. All of these suggestions also allow you to delve into the culture that created the language. 1) Listen to music. Find music in the language you are learning that you enjoy. It’s definitely out there. You just have to have an open mind about it. The thing about music, as opposed to a book or a film, is that we tend to listen to the same songs repeatedly. Listen to the same song enough and phrases will start to stick out to you. (Feel free to send me a message if you’d like some music recommendations in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, or French.) 2) Watch Movies When you watch movies in your native language, put on subtitles in the language you are learning, if available. As you read the words, your brain will associate what you hear with the word in English. Around the time I started seriously studying Spanish, I was binge-watching 24 with subtitles on in Spanish. I certainly learned a lot of terms related to espionage and terrorism. 3) Movies (part 2) Watch movies in the language you are learning. Put on English subtitles. Don’t feel pressured to watch without them. You’ll still absorb some of the language just by hearing it, and you’ll be learning a bit about the culture. Sometimes repeat phrases that you hear out loud and say them like the actor said them- with some emotion. It’ll help it stick more! 4) Games! Play games or sports in the language. If you are a competitive person like I am, you can let your emotions take over when you are playing a game. The good news is that when this happens, you become less self-conscious and words just come out. When I taught English in Spain, I’d sometimes play the game Mafia with my students. To them, this didn’t feel like classwork. My only stipulation was that they had to speak in English the whole time. If you know the game, it’s full of debate and accusations and deceit. For students passionate about winning, their only chance at victory required them to argue in English. 5) Drama! Read plays or scripts. They tend to be very dialogue heavy, so you can really get a sense of how people converse in the language. And usually, what text there is tends to be very straight-forward stage directions. 6) Current events! Read newspapers. Usually these are written in really clear, simple language. It’s a...read more