So you’re interested in studying, or living abroad, but you don’t fancy being lost in translation? It’s time to learn the language. Not properly knowing a language can get you into all kinds of strange situations that can sometimes be funny, but are most likely going to be awkward or even dangerous. Perfecting a language is easier when you live in the particular country and immerse yourself into the culture, and if you’re going for a short while, you may not get up to speed as quickly as you like. Some countries even require you to be at a certain level of skill before you can stay. For example, the UK requires you to take an English test if English isn’t your first language (it’s actually a requirement when applying for a Visa). Fear not though, because here are some ways that can help you get up to speed quicker than you would expect.
Listen to songs in another language (and even do Karaoke):
Singing along to an English song is not that difficult, but singing along to a song of another language often can be, unless you speak that language. One of the things I like to do is find a band that does cover versions in another language, or a band that might themselves sing in another language. The Pixies, for example, often sing in Spanish and it is quite easy to find translations of their lyrics. When I started learning Spanish at school I would listen to songs like Isla de Encanta to get a feel of the language. For fans of David Bowie learning Portuguese, you should listen to the soundtrack for the movie The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou which features many covers by Seu Jorge (he also does live renditions throughout scenes in the movie), a highlight being Rebel Rebel. Listening to these songs, and trying to work out the ways pronunciation changes with tempo shifts and key changes, will give you a greater knowledge of the language. Taking what you’ve learned to the karaoke stage will then be good practice for when you actually move (and who doesn’t love karaoke anyway?). You could even try changing one of your favourite songs into the language you’re learning, and try and make it fit the melody.
Start a blog in the language you’re learning:
The best way to learn something is by doing. This means that one of the best ways to get to grips with a language is to blog using that language. Blogging about the things your into is a fantastic thing to do anyway, as it allows you to become part of a community and gain friends with similar interests. Translating these interests into another language, will help you learn specific words that may not be taught in basic language classes. Often when learning a language in a class you learn a formal version of the language, and not the casual version which is most likely used. Stating that you are learning the language and asking for feedback from commenters with also help you amend mistakes in slang words, and other commonly used alterations of words.
Change your electronics into English:
My friends used to do this to me all the time as a joke. If I left my mobile phone anywhere they would change the language to French, or any other language that was an option on the phone. Luckily I knew the menus on the phone without the English and I could change it back. I didn’t at the time, but looking back I realise this could be a valuable tool for learning certain words in the language you’re learning. It will also be valuable when you come to interacting with technology in your new country. This will also help you increase your reading speed as you’ll automatically recognise a whole bunch of words.
Visit a comedy show in another language:
Stand-up comedy is more often than not an English Language thing. There are comedians who don’t speak English though and if you can find any in the language you want to learn you should go down and see one of their shows. As well as being a good way to listen to someone actually speak the language; you’ll also get a good idea of what the humour of the country that speaks that language is. Humour is incredibly important when it comes to making friends and socialising. Not many people want to hang around someone who is always deadly serious. If you do, you’re probably deadly serious yourself. Otherwise, you’ll need to know how to articulate your sense of humour. If you do go down to a comedy show in a different language, it’s probably a good idea to get a friend to go who can translate for you if need be.
Play videogames and watch movies in a different language:
Video games are huge right now. They’re insanely popular the whole world over. You’ve probably played some yourself, I know I have. This idea occurred to me while playing one of the Fifa Soccer games a few years back. I’d become incredibly bored of the English Commentary track and switched it to Spanish which was much more entertaining (and didn’t sound like two people being forced into a recording booth). It occurred to me that you could do this with other games and learn some of the language while you’re at it. There are two ways which you can do this: a) play a game you haven’t played before with all the instructions changed into another language, so that you have to learn the language to figure out how to play the game, and b) change the language of a game with a good narrative you may have already played, such as, L.A Noire and when it gets to points in the story you know, you can compare the English scenes to the alternative language scenes. This would work the same way for a movie you love. Sometimes movies will only be subtitled with another language (which can itself help) but sometimes it will be entirely re-dubbed. If you can find a version which isn’t awful like the infamous Chinese re-dubbing of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (known as Star War the Third Gathers: The Backstroke of the West) then try and give it a watch and see how much of it you can pick up.
Anyway, that’s just a few ways in which you can help improve your language skills quickly, I hope they help for you, and wherever it is you plan on going, I hope you have a wonderful time.
This post brought to you by Pearson.