This post contains affiliate links.
Welcome to week three of your New Year’s course to learn a language. And this week, we’re going to talk about reading and listening to speak a language.
Investing time and input is essential to learn to speak a language. Dr. Stephen Krashen has the input hypothesis as one of his five theories of language learning. And basically, we learn by what we hear and what we see, what we understand. And I really like to keep the formula simple. I have two years and one mouth, two eyes and one brain, so I read and I listen twice as much as I speak and I write.
Reading is one of the most effective ways to learn a new language, and it gives you all the vocabulary and grammar served up in context. And unlike when you’re talking to somebody, you can repeat whatever it is you see as much time … You can take a highlighter, you can underline words, you could use a tool like Readlang, which is specifically for language learners. Make it high interest, pair it up with one of your personal interests. So, one of the things that I’ve always really liked to do, I really like to read magazines, its been a lifelong love of mine. And when I say magazines, all kinds. And what I love so much about magazines is that when I get a magazine, I can pick it up and I can expect to have a lot of, usually, depending on the magazine, light reading that’s all around a certain theme that I’m interested in. So I have loved design magazines, particularly when I bought a house. I love magazines on weight loss. It’s a topic that interests a lot of us. I love magazines about cooking because I like to cook. I can count on that content, most of it being really interesting to me, and then I get to learn something.
Don’t underestimate the power of reading. Dr. Stephen Krashen’s done lots of studies and there are so many people out there who speak 10, 15 languages, that they all picked up from doing their reading in another language, so you can too.
Listening, I think, is a lot more difficult. And that’s where it can be really important to have some good strategies, as well as to pick the right materials. So, it’s really fundamental in learning to speak a language. You’ve got to be able to hear it, and it does require a huge investment of time. And what’s really great about listening, now, in today’s world, is that our devices let us stop things, listen multiple times.
I really love videos. So right now I think it’s so exciting, everything that’s out there that allow people to listen. So podcasts, right? There’s podcasts specifically for language learners, apps that use a lot of artificial intelligence. So, I’m not sure about all languages, but I know Duolingo has a lot of chat bots and stories and really great places to get input beyond their traditional language exercises. I love Yabla, I’m a proud affiliate of them, you’ll hear me talk about them in so many of my episodes, because I love them, and it’s long term. They take authentic content and they make it understandable for learners. To my knowledge, it’s the only program that’s out there that doesn’t just offer closed captioning, which is great, or subtitles. It’s just addictive and it’s immersive.
So, I want to go over listening, some places that you can find listening online. So, for audio courses, I love Pimsleur for beginners. It’s almost always where I start with languages. I love to work in my notebooks and I love to get on Italki right away, but the truth is my life is really busy and I have to find ways to learn language on my commute, and that’s been through audio programs. And I think Pimsleur is one of the most powerful places to start. It’s pricey, and maybe you’ll luck out like I have and you’re going to be able to find a lot of programs that are free in your library, or perhaps even find used on places like Amazon, people don’t want them anymore. I’ve been really lucky with that, but I’ve also purchased a few, and I haven’t shuddered too much at the price, because they’re really good. They use space repetition and they break down different conversational topics, and they’re always recycling everything you learned. So what you learned in lesson one, you’re always going to recycle and build on in lesson two. Really, really, really well done.
I love Mark Frobose. He is a polyglot who produces a lot of great courses for, specifically, for your car. So if you’re in your car, check out Mark. Earworms is great. I love Michel Thomas. Those are great for your car.
And as you get a little bit more advanced, get into the authentic materials on Audible. So, when I had the goal of speaking Spanish, almost like a native, I was right at the very end and I really needed to get to the next spot, get to the next place. And I love to listen to audio books, so I got a bunch of audio books in Spanish and listened. I listened mainly to self help books, because I knew that they would use a lot of advanced structures that I could then use in my own speech.
There are great apps that can help with listening like Drops or Memrise. And if you get to be at home, try Netflix for language learning, it’s a Chrome extension. Or Amazon Prime.
Do your exercising. And another way to listen that I highly recommend is to get a tutor on Italki (my referral link). It’s not that expensive, and they are geared, they know how to make your input, your listening, comprehensible. So they’re going to speak to you at a level you can understand. And you can actually record your lessons and save them so you could go back and listen, but you’re going to get input from them, from listening to them. That’s going to then become your own language. This is one of the things that Benny Lewis does. He talks about it in my book coming up, it’s amazing. And even when he feels that he’s not exactly in a place where he’s actually speaking right away, he’s got a really great work around where he does a lot of stuff with chat, which all of these programs like Skype, Google Meet, Google Hangouts, have the ability to chat and you can save those transcripts. So you really have spoken to someone, you’ve had a conversation, and you’ve gotten lots of input. Or those people can talk to you and you can answer them in the chat or maybe even summarize what they say. I’ve done that activity a lot as an advanced learner.
I hope these tips have helped you, given you some ideas of how you can get listening in a new language at all different levels. Next week, we’re going to talk about learning new languages through speaking and writing through output.
Love to read? Check out how to use this amazing tool to learn any language. Reading: One of the Best Ways to Learn a Language