Learning Language: Brain Dance

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How can one possibly take an entire language and the world that it comes from into a brain that is already (in some cases) seemingly occupied space? You already have a world in there. Trying to fit two worlds might leave you with one of those bulging brain situations that cartoonists can only dream of!

While this is all true, learning a language can be fulfilling in ways that you can only express… in a second language. Plus, I’m sure we can find a nice wig to cover your extra brain matter so that no one realises what a genius you are and embarrasses you.

Learning a language is challenging, however it doesn’t have to go without fun. In order to help you on the road to brain-dance territory I wanted to put together my utmost top top top top tips that will help you gain so much more out of the experience. This may even get you laid. Actually, lets just focus on the language part.

TOP (FUN) HITS

Watch and learn

Find a television show made in a country that speaks the language you are learning. Get addicted to it. While dubbed films and series are somewhat acceptable, it is also important to observe the way in which people move their mouths in order to create the sounds- imitation is your best friend in every sense.

Subtitles

Do not change the subtitles to your mother tongue. This is so tempting.. but such a backwards way of learning. If you’re learning Italian, have them in ITALIAN! A faster acquisition of vocabulary, phrasal structures, pronunciation, spelling and listening will ensue. Be patient. Let your ears become accustomed to the new sounds. It isnt easy to begin with, but you can only improve and improve and improve.

Aim never to translate

If you begin learning a language with the goal of directly translating exact expressions and phrases from your first language, you are fighting a losing battle. Analyse and realise the language that you will need in your day to day life. Actually useful stuff! Find the vocabulary and phrases in the language for those situations.

Phrases, expressions and even some vocabulary in your first language can be completely inappropriate in another language- accept that you are starting this journey with a fresh language slate!

Shadowing

This technique will aid your speaking in terms of pronunciation, rhythm, accent and intonation as well as improving your listening skills. Combo hit, like in Tekken.

How to: choose any listening content i.e. the radio, a television show or movie. Find a person or character and imitate repeating exactly what they say. The rhythm, pace, pronunciation- everything! Using a show with subtitles will help you, but the aim is to get to the level where you yourself can speak at the pace and natural rhythm of a native speaker. You will be surprised how quickly your mouth and brain will unconsciously rise to the occasion.

Find a buddy

Language swap! It’s free and an excellent way to make new friends, talk smack and learn from a native speaker. They can give you secret slang phrases, correct you when you’re saying crazy things and help you speak like a normal person i.e. not just how to order a coffee or ask where the Eiffel Tower is.

Read

This is quite an obvious one… but not many people consider finding texts that are interesting as well as educationally viable. Harry Potter in Spanish? YAS! Art mags in German? Hi. French Vogue? I die. 

Change the language on your devices

Quite an easy one to do- get your phone, your laptop and your tablet. Everything in your new language, on something that you stare at at least 500 times a day. Learning like a legend.

Write a journal

This seems very 15 year old teen of me… but write a journal talking about your feelings, your daily activities, thoughts and reflections. Not only will this give you a wealth of useful and practical language that you can use on the daily, but your therapist will approve. 

Italki

This website is out-of-sight for connecting you to language professionals and native speakers with little to no cost at the click of a button. If you are living somewhere with very few native speakers of your target language, this site is for you.

Sing it, lady!

Research some of the top musicians that originated from the country of the language you are aiming to learn. For example, if you are learning Spanish there are countless artists from Spain and Latin America to discover. Look up the lyrics, the meaning behind the words and sing along. Another great website is lyricstraining, testing your listening and spelling skills as you listen/read along to whichever tune you please.

Learning a language is hard! Do you have any other tips you would like to add to make the ride more loveable/successful/nerd-happy? Share your thoughts, my friendly friends, in the comment section below. Over and nerding out. 

Featured image from this wonderful Tumblr: Books and Art

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2 Responses
  • Marianne // DYOB
    June 28, 2016

    Sophie, these are such great points! I am learning Spanish right now and it’s so hard to get past the basics for me. I am going to check out the last 2 websites right now and I just changed the language on my phone, what a brilliant idea!

    • Sophie Ellis
      June 28, 2016

      WONDERFUL! Language learning is the BEST. Happy learning, and glad to have been a little help in what can seem like the biggest and most impossible challenge there ever was. XX

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