Learning a Foreign Language should be a wonderful opportunity – the key to new literature, cultures, film, friends, you name it! Unfortunately, however, it often ends up becoming just one more subject, complete with homework, tests and grades. So how can you keep foreign language learning interesting for you or your son or daughter?
- Listen to music. What kind of music do you like to listen to most? Rap? Folk? Showtunes? I bet variations on it exist in the language you’re studying! For instance, I bought the soundtrack to Les Miserables, my then-favorite musical, in both French and Spanish. After listening to them consistently, my vocabulary in both languages grew by leaps and bounds.
- Watch movies. If you’re still new to your foreign language, choose movies that look interesting (or that you’ve heard good things about) and watch them with the subtitles on. This way you can follow along with the stories and also get used to hearing native speakers pronounce the language. Feel more confident in your abilities? Put on your favorite movie and listen to it dubbed into your foreign language instead of English – listening to the different voices is always lots of fun, as is hearing how they translate various English words and phrases!
- Read. What are you interested in? Politics? Sports? < strong >Arts? Food? Whatever it is, there’s a magazine (or website) for it written in the language you’re studying. Try reading the article through once without using a dictionary and see how much of its meaning you were able to glean. Then have another pass, looking up whatever words you didn’t know. You’ll be surprised how much you were able to get just from your own knowledge of the subject!
- Travel. How better to practice your foreign language skills and get to know another culture than by travelling? Maybe you can’t fly off to Paris for a weekend, but what about Quebec? Or is someone in your school a native speaker? Get a cup of coffee with her and practice speaking only their language.
And while you’re learning about other cultures and practicing your new language, don’t be afraid to share tidbits about YOUR native culture with your new acquaintances.
By Alexandra Cohen-Spiegler, Private Tutor