My Tips & Tricks

Hello, everyone! Happy Tuesday! If you are currently studying a foreign language, don’t forget to do something to interact with it today and EVERY SINGLE DAY! You don’t have to spend hours every day practicing verb conjugations or completing vocabulary drills. Let’s face it – that gets boring. BUT here are some of the study strategies I personally use on a daily basis, all of which are available in your target language:

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        1. Listen to (free!) podcasts.
            Whether you would benefit from the more educational podcasts (#1), or you like the challenge of conversations at natural speed (#2), it’s incredibly easy to search and find one that captures your attention. Having them readily available on your phone is great for commuting, too! I love turning something on during my drive to work – it’s a great way to sneak in 15-20 minutes of listening practice. I’ve listed some of the podcasts I am subscribed to below:
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     #1. Daily Spanish Pod, SBS Spanish, SBS Italian, Maxmondo Incontro Italiano – Learn Italian!, Colibrò – Italian Podcast Network, Learn French by Podcast
     #2. CNN en Español, RFI Noticias de América, Rai Podcast Radio1, Fuori Tempi, Che Tempo Che Fa 2007-08 – Luciana Littizzetto, TéléZapping, RFI – Journal en français facile 20H TU
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        2. Read online news articles.
            When I have more time, I like to print out a handful of articles and deconstruct them: namely, highlighting words I am unfamiliar with and looking them up in a dictionary before reading through the article again for a more thorough comprehension. The articles rarely end up being more than two pages in length, so they’re great as short exercises. Find a topic that interests you – you can even follow stories you’re familiar with over several days.
            I also have iTalian News, Le Monde, and L’Obs apps on my phone, where I like to skim through headlines in any downtime I have while out and about. Here are some of the newspapers I enjoy perusing online:
                Italian Corriere della Sera, Il Fatto Quotidiano, La Repubblica
                French Le Monde, L’Obs, Le Figaro
                Spanish: El Mundo, El País (Spain), El Informador (Mexico), El Comercio (Peru)
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        3. Read a book (& choose your own genre).
            To read a foreign language book successfully, you can’t be afraid of writing on the pages. The way I read news articles is exactly the way I read a book: highlight unknown words, then look them up and write them down directly on the page. That way, reading through it again, not only does your comprehension level rise but your vocabulary expands and is reinforced.
            Some pages will look like this:
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And others may look like this:
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            Books written in foreign languages are not hard to find. Major bookstores will have a Spanish language section (where I found the book I currently use for study, El Circo de la Noche de Erin Morgenstern), and online retailers can provide any other language you may desire. I purchased my Italian novel, Un Viaggio Chiamato Vita di Banana Yoshimoto, in Rome while studying abroad, and my French novel, La Fausse Maîtresse de Balzac, was found at a local used bookstore in Missouri that had a few foreign language sections.
            Keep in mind, this study strategy is quite a time commitment. My Italian novel took me six months to complete, and I’ve only made a small dent in the other two. It’s not about how fast you can finish the book; just do a few pages each day/week if that’s all the time or patience you have.
        4. Keep a journal written in your target language(s).
                Being able to write fluently in another language is not going to come to you overnight, but using the vocabulary and verb tenses you already know to communicate your own thoughts will immensely help your fluency over time. It took me a full journal of writing in a mixture of English and Italian, with a significant increase in Italian words by the end, to get the hang of this practice. Now I rarely have to write an English word, and I have more time to research the few words that escape me without strongly distracting from the writing.
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        5. Talk to yourself!
                Out loud, of course! If you have the house to yourself, great; if you have roommates, they’ll eventually get use to your muttering in another language – trust me. I like to narrate certain daily activities, such as cooking a meal, cleaning the house, or even getting ready for school or work. Using basic vocabulary in an actual situation will solidify these words and phrases in your memory, making them easier to recall in other situations. Reading and writing can only get you so far in learning another language, you actually have to speak it!
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           But my most important piece of advice is this: BE PATIENT.. Think of how long it takes a child to learn their native tongue!
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Comment above or send an email if you have any questions or if you would like to know more about my study tips & tricks!
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