Minding Your Accents and Umlauts
- Thursday, April 02, 2009
Another strategy you can use is to find a dedicated grammar book for the language you are studying. A grammar book may have much more thorough explanations of grammatical concepts than a general foreign language course will have. There are many grammar books available for many different languages, and the most important thing to look for while choosing one is usability. Some grammar books contain exceedingly complex explanations, and since you are looking for illumination instead of frustration, you will want to find a book that addresses concepts in a way that you are comfortable with.
Instead of being reduced to dry, academic drudgery, foreign language study should be fun! Certainly, there is repetition and dedicated study involved in learning any language, but by adding some variety to study routines and embracing the colorful culture your chosen language belongs to, you can keep things fresh and interesting.
There are some board games that are designed for language study, but many more that can be easily adapted for the purpose. For example, take any board game that has players rolling dice, spinning a number wheel, or picking a number card to determine how far they move, and add a rule that they have to translate a flash card before moving. For example, if you’re learning French, you show them the side of a flash card that says “maison,” and they tell you that it means house. Or, you can show them the English side that says “house,” and they have to tell you what the word is in French. You can do the same thing with grammar. For example, before each player rolls, you can have him conjugate a verb through in all its forms. Incorporating games into your language study can provide variety and entertainment.
Watching movies in a foreign language your students are studying is a great way to help them appreciate the vibrant culture and new world that is opening to them. Sometimes a student may start to feel that foreign language study is just a dry, academic exercise involving memorization of exotic syllables, but showing him a movie can give him an appreciation of how exciting living languages are. Additionally, even if your students only possess a basic level of comprehension, they will be training their ears by simply hearing the language spoken, even if they don’t understand what most of the words mean. When they do understand a word or two, you will likely hear them excitedly proclaiming the fact to everyone in the room! Your public library is an excellent place to find foreign films in a variety of world languages. Even if your library branch doesn’t carry many foreign films on-site, they can often order them from other libraries. You can also search online; however, before purchasing a foreign film, it is wise to carefully look at the rating and description of the film, or read a review online, to make sure it is appropriate.
Additionally, if you’re studying French or Spanish, you can often watch the DVDs you already own in those languages! Most DVDs now come with options for dubbing the dialogue in French or Spanish. To find out whether a DVD you’re watching has this option, you can simply go into the “options” section of the menu and see if there are other languages available. Sometimes the voices chosen for the dubbing don’t match up with the English voices, but this only adds to the entertainment! A student can also benefit from watching films they are very familiar with in a foreign language; since they already know the storyline and the dialogue, they will know the context of all the scenes and be able to catch more of the words and phrases.
Read Children’s Books
Reading children’s books in a foreign language is a great way to practice basic vocabulary and learn new words. Since they are geared towards children with developing vocabularies, these books are often accessible and understandable to foreign language students early in their studies. Often, the stories are fun and short, which keeps them from being overwhelming. If your student is studying a major world language, you might be able to find children’s books in that language at your local library. If your library does not have any on the shelves, ask a reference librarian if there are books available on inter-library loan. Many public library systems also have Internet sites that patrons can use to order books from other libraries. If you’re not sure whether your library has such a system, check with a librarian.
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