One thing I have noticed while travelling is that it is easy to slip into a comfort zone with your second language. There appear to be plenty of people out there who have a reasonable grasp of the basics of a language but who never seem to push themselves enough to further their knowledge. So how can you do this?
Don’t Use Your Native Tongue as an Emergency Backup
One problem can be if you often practise with a foreign language speaker who knows your native language. After getting frustrated by your attempts to find the right word for a while they might say something like, “Just say it in English”. This might be convenient at first but it is an approach which will stop you from learning as well as you should. A better idea is to use words in the language you are learning to explain yourself, even if it is in a roundabout way. For example, in my days when I was avoiding the Spanish word veterinario (I couldn’t pronounce it right for some reason) I could say that it is a person who looks after sick animals rather than saying “vet” in English. Once you get to a certain level in your new tongue you should never have to resort to explaining yourself in your native language for anything, no matter how complicated the subject is. Speaking frequently to native speakers like your Listen & Learn teachers is one great way of becoming more confident at doing this.
French – Amour, toux et fumée En ne secret sont demeurée
I live this French proverb. It means “Love, smoke and cough are hard to hide.” It is similar to a Spanish one which says that money, pain and love are hard to hide. In fact, the German one we just looked at has a Spanish equivalent as well now that I think about it, so the different European languages have a lot of similar proverbs. With their French lessons Edinburgh residents can learn many exciting proverbs like this one.
Italian – A caval donato non si guarda in bocca
This is one of the classic proverbs which you will hear in many different languages. If I said that it had to with gift horses and mouths I am sure you would know which one it is in English.
Arabic – (translates as) More lost than the moon in the winter
This is another fantastic sounding proverb although I can’t quite seem to pin down its literal meaning. One of the great things about learning an exotic language is that you are going to come across many wonderful proverbs which are quite different from the ones you know. When they start Arabic lessons Leeds students should be sure to ask their teacher for a few proverbs.
As far as I am concerned, the more different ways you can find to inject a bit of fun into your learning of a new language the better. I am a bit of a sucker for proverbs and I always been. This means that I can recommend going online and checking out a few in the language you are learning. You might be surprised at what you find.
Spanish - A quien madruga, Dios le ayuda
A quick look at proverbs in the language you are starting to study is a good idea. This is because I think that it gives you an idea how close the culture is to your native culture. For example, when I started looking up Spanish proverbs I was delighted to see that many of them were direct translations of English ones (or vice versa). The one I have quoted is, I guess, most closely related to “The early bird catches the worm”. If you ever spend time in Spain or Latin America you will hear this quote a lot, and if you ever need to go and form a queue in a government office you will realise that most people take this proverb literally.
German – An den Früchten erkennt man den Baum
I had assumed that German proverbs would be similar to English ones as well, but after a bit of research I came to the conclusion that that isn’t really the case as much as it is in Spanish. This proverb translates as “The apple does not fall far from the tree”. The point it seems to be making is that children learn from the example of their parents each day. If you like the idea of learning German proverbs from a native teacher then click here to get started.
Hatless in Paris and Not As Dashing as Maurice
The time I went to Paris I was terrified about looking out of place. After all, with so many handsome Gallic chaps looking debonair like Maurice Chevalier I didn’t want to look bad with my faded jeans and my old PSG top. Thankfully, I dredged up a few words of schoolboy French such as pantalon and blouson, so I could dress myself in style once I got there. I still didn’t look much like Maurice but I am putting that down to the lack of a good hat. With some good French lessons Edinburgh students can look as dashing as they want to once they head to France.
Turning on Some Chinese Style
I would love to travel to China and dress like the locals. I think that wherever you travel in the world you should make an effort to buy local clothes and wear them while you are there. I just did some research into Han and Manchu Chinese traditional clothing and it is a complicated old business if you don’t have a grounding in the language. Thanks to their Chinese lessons Birmingham fashion freaks can find out how to tell their yi from their pao and their chang from their ku.
I should start off by saying that I am not the most appropriate person for giving out sartorial advice. The contents of my wardrobe are regularly mocked by my other half, who for some reason considers that my collection of football tops and denim jackets is somewhat behind the times.
What I do know, though, is that every culture around the globe has its own unique dress sense and words to convey it. Let’s explore some of the words which can help you understand them better.
If You Are Wearing Sandals in Latin America Don’t Wear Socks (and Vice Versa I Guess)
If there is one piece of advice you should listen to before going to Latin America it is to cut out the old socks and sandal combo. For some reason the locals find this to be an utterly hilarious gringo style. Once I had, ahem, ditched the socks I went to look for some new sandals. I know the tale about Eskimos having hundreds of words for snow is a myth (and I know that no one calls them Eskimos anymore either) but I think that the Spanish language might have as many words for sandals. I started off asking for sandalias but got asked to specify whether I wanted chancletas or ojotas. I then came across chinelas, chanclas, Hawaianas, zapatillas (which are, confusingly, training shoes in most countries but sandals in Paraguay) and a few other words, all of which are either regional differences or slight variations on the sandal theme. If you want a native teacher to steer you in the right direction then click here.
Table Tennis in China
I used to love watching table tennis on the television when I was a kid. All the best players seemed to be Chinese and I have particularly fond memories of seeing an exhibition match where a couple of players showed off some amazing trick shots and even started playing while virtually sitting in the audience. If you want to start your Chinese lessons Edinburgh is a great choice. For a start, it has some table tennis facilities where you can play away and practise your Chinese grammar while dreaming of heading off to Beijing to play against some of the world’s best players.
Boules in France
Can anyone explain to me what the game of boules is all about? It looks deceptively simple and, in fact, somewhat similar to the games I used to play in my garden by throwing golf balls at each other. However, it seems that there are a number of different variations of the game and I just can’t keep up. If you are thinking of taking French lessons London is ideal, although it doesn’t seem to offer a lot of boules playing areas. If you go to France and play a few games there you should make some new friends while you learn the rules and find out some of the strategies and subtleties of this famous sport.
The few games of football I played soon after arriving in South America helped me learn some new words in Spanish, although not all of them were complimentary. This made me wonder which sports you could try in order to learn a second language better.
Chess Boxing in Germany
While taking their German lessons Birmingham students should practise. Practise punching people and trying out a few bishop led chess attacks as well, that is. I have been fascinated by the sport of chess boxing ever since I first read about it. Apparently it is big in Germany. You will want to learn crucial words like “checkmate” and “ouch” in German before you go there but once you are in the thick of a bloody, bruising chess battle you will be able to pick up some other phrases as well. I am not sure how popular this sport really is and how difficult it is to get a game but if all else fails just challenge someone to a game of chess and then start throwing the pieces at them to see what happens next.
Look Up the Internet
I might be low tech but I can still use the internet well enough to look up a foreign video clip on YouTube or to download a foreign song. Actually, I don’t always manage to download the songs successfully but you know what I mean. Some of my favourite songs of all time are in Spanish and I have also found some pretty funny videos in that language as well. When they want to learn Spanish Birmingham students don’t have to be technologically advanced to start singing along or watching some videos. In fact, I would call this kind of thing pretty low tech these days, as strange as it might sound. The internet is so simple to use that even my Gran has been known to play the odd game of bingo or look up some awful Gene Pitney songs.
Use Your Phone
The only way my current phone could help me learn a language would be if I changed the on screen language and discovered what “ring tone” and “Solitaire” are in Portuguese or Italian. However, there are phones around which are more advanced than mine. If you have one of those fancy Dan phones which let you download apps then you can use this as a hi tech way of learning new words. I believe there are many different apps which will let you do this. If they want to the make the most of their Chinese lessons London smart phone owners have got the answer right there in their hands. By the way, Solitaire seems to be called Solitaire in Portuguese as well, so my low tech phone came in handy for something after all.
There are many different ways of learning a second language and while some students like to go hi tech others are happy to do theirlearning without using too much technology. I have always been a low tech sort of person and to this day I wouldn’t know what to do with a smart phone if one fell in my lap and started ringing.
I you are planning to take professional languages classes there are some extra ways of improving your knowledge you can take when you want to push the boat out with your gadgets and gizmos. However, there are also some which don’t involve any sort of smart devices with Wi-Fi and GPS.
Read a Good Book
My favourite way of learning some new words in a foreign tongue is to read a good book. This is especially good if you are studying or travelling abroad, as a book can help you feel more comfortable when you are eating alone in a busy restaurant, travelling on the train or just passing a few hours feeling free and easy in a park or a plaza. When they are planning to take French lessons London based students will be spoiled for choice between all of the fantastic literature available in this wonderful language.
Try a Different Approach
It might be that the difficult days you are experiencing can be a sign that it is time to do things differently. For example, are you trying to learn too much on your own with a book instead of getting out and practising more? As far as I am concerned the more variety you can fit into your studies the better. If you want to see how you can enjoy conversations with a native speaking teacher at home then click here and diversify your studies a little. A change to your way of studying can bring back your initial enthusiasm and let you see how far you have progressed.
Take a Break
If all else fails I find that taking a complete break from my studies is a good idea. There is only so much grammar and new vocabulary that a human brain can absorb in a certain period of time. You might think that if you leave your books alone for a week or so you will forget a lot but it will probably work out to be a better approach in the long run. You aren’t likely to forget as much as you think and will come back refreshed and ready to go. If you want a training program which matches your needs and preferred pace then Listen & Learn will make sure that you get this and don’t feel overwhelmed with all of the new knowledge you gain.