There are lots of materials out there to learn a new language. Think text books, courses, apps, and flashcards. All of these things can be super helpful in helping you learn all the rules, patterns, structures and vocabulary while you’re learning a new language.
Understanding acquisition is extremely important for every language learner. Acquisition is that natural process of picking up a new language, just like you did with your first language. It starts with listening, and followed by speaking. We then learn to read when we learn what our language looks like. Lastly, we learn how to write. We acquired our language naturally through our relationships, our environment, TV, movies, books, our teachers- all of our contact with our native language. Essentially, we learned it through full immersion. Successful learners and polyglots know that the perfect combination of learning (those deliberate and measured activities) and acquisition (immersive communication) can truly accelerate your ability to understand and communicate in a new language.
Here are some great tools you can use today, without ever leaving your home country, to incorporate into your language studies. They can help you mimic that immersive environment where you learned your first language.
If you’re not familiar with Yabla, get familiar. It is one of the greatest tools out there to experience language immersion. Yabla is a subscription site that puts out new content every week right from the target language country.
You can see dramas, commercials, news reports, and it has a patented player that lets you look up words, subtitles, captions. It can play slow, it and it can play fast. There are also numerous games that are included with every video. You can make Flashcards of the new vocabulary.
Teachers can also use Yabla-it’s a great way to teach a language. You can immerse your students, as long as they have an internet connection, in authentic real language. There are leaderboards, competitions and forums. Addictive and engaging.
TPR (Total Physical Response) is a language teacher’s best friend. Essentially, TPR allows the learner to receive and understand focused messages in a new language. Everything is completely in context, and it’s a great way to learn vocabulary and grammar, all in context. Some examples of TPR activities that you might have experienced might be Bingo, or Pictionary, where you draw what someone says to you in a new language. This might be Simon Says, or a program like Rosetta Stone or EuroTalk, where you’re responding to commands and acquiring new language in a really fun and immersive way.
Some of the ways that we can use total physical response when you’re learning on your own is by immersing yourself in dance and exercise classes. YouTube is a great resource that has lots of target language instruction. You can do yoga in French, you can weight lifts in Italian, or do aerobics in Spanish. You can learn traditional dances from all over the Spanish-speaking world. The instruction is given in the target language, and you get to see it being demonstrated at the same time as you listen. Just as you would do with anything you’re learning that is new, repeat and practice over and over. Each time you’re going to soak up new language.
Check out these videos to combine exercise and dance with learning Spanish:
Audiobooks. I think the internet, and the iPhone have been two of the biggest advances for making language accessible to anybody anywhere. We’ve never lived in a time before in history where people share their culture and language so abundantly. The possibilities are growing all the time, too. Basically, you could learn a whole new language just by having a phone. One of the apps I particularly love is the Audible App (or any equivalent audiobook app). Load a course, and when you’re more advanced listen to an audiobook, fairytale onto your iPhone and listen.
Maybe you want to increase your walking and lose some weight. You can listen to your audiobooks over and over again and soak up new vocabulary and grammar every time. You can listen to them in your car, you can do it while you’re doing errands or cleaning the house. It’s a great way to up your language skills and get something productive done at the same time.
Fluent Forever App
Gabriel Wyner, author of the bestselling book Fluent Forever, has created an app. He’s taken his whole Anki Flashcard system and has developed an app to make the cards very easy to create. What’s great about it is that you can make a completely personalized immersive experience with text, video, audio, images, put it right on your phone, and study anywhere.
Target Language Television
There are so many people out there publishing television stations, publishing their broadcasts on YouTube, you probably just need to know what to look for. If you’re learning Spanish, check out the telenovelas.
I love French reality shows. There’s so much to choose from. You can sit and watch something interesting as many times as you need to understand, all while learning a new language, and learning a lot about what’s going on in your target language country.
Reading is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in language. It used to be much more of a challenge to get books in another language, but it’s not anymore. If you have a Kindle or any kind of eReader Amazon is constantly delivering new ebooks. Project Gutenberg has free eBooks in a variety of languages for anyone wanting to learn.
Be sure to install Readlang to help you grow your vocabulary exponentially.
Did you know you can get tutoring and conversation lessons from a native speaker who speaks the language you want to learn? You can even record your sessions on Skype or YouTube live to review later.
Check out this link to get $10 to get started:
I hope these resources will help you add some high interest activities to your language study time, and give you a lot more insight into the culture in real authentic language.