How to Learn English – the real secret

The lovely folks over at Kaplan International Colleges are running a contest to get the word about their English learning programs, and I, of course, am all for immersion language study (and also all for prizes). They’ve got a nice infographic, but I have to say that I have an even better way.


Infographic: How to learn Englishvia Kaplan Blog

But first, can you guess my favorite of those facts? I’ll give you a hint. Yup, I love that people are learning English from Harry Potter. 99% because I am a giant Potterphile and 1% because I am laughing at the thought of some non-native speaker unknowingly using magical words and wondering why the English Muggles are looking at her funny.

So what do I think is the best way to learn English (or any language)? Snag yourself a local significant other! I learned LOTS of Spanish from my host family. But after a couple dates with Rodolfo, my Spanish was suddenly much better. Make sense: on a group outing, you can just listen, but when you’re trying to impress someone on a first date you’re sort of required to talk.

I do understand why Kaplan isn’t encouraging young people to do some kind of reverse mail-order bride thing just to learn a language. Romance has to count for something. But if you’re tired of yet another Friends re-run, consider getting out there and making a foreign “friend” of your own.

This post brought to you by Kaplan International Colleges.

10 Responses to “How to Learn English – the real secret”

  1. Shannon O says:

    I did the opposite! I read Harry Pottery y el Caliz de Fuego before I went to Spain as an attempt to get me in the thinking in Spanish mindset. Since I know it so well in English, it was a great challenge because good lord I did not know half the words, but also not impossible since I kind of knew what was going on anyways. :)

    • Emily says:

      You reminded me that I read the first few HP books in French as well! Wow, I’d totally forgotten that. And the same thing happened, I learned lots of vocab simply by knowing what it was supposed to mean in the English books.

    • Margie says:

      I totally did that with the novelization of Star Wars in German in high school :)

  2. I haven’t tested the dating-to-learn-the-language theory, but I know many who have and say it works.

    • Emily says:

      It’s basically extra immersion language training, since in a lot of day-to-day situations you can get around with sign language and pointing, but on a date that’s not a very attractive combination.

  3. Cata says:

    I learned a lot with the CC from the TV and reading the lyrics of my favorite songs. I knew how to read and write, but I was terrified of saying a word. I also read “como agua para chocolate” in english and since I had read it in spanish I learned a lot of vocabulary. I went on a few dates w a gringo when I first moved here, but I got so bored… I’m sure that he thought I didn’t understand what he said. I did, I was just not interested… after that I never dated any more gringos! nothing like fighting in your native language no?

    • Emily says:

      Rodolfo learned a lot of English that way too. After a while he used to watch Seinfeld with a piece of paper taped over the bottom of the TV so that he couldn’t read the subtitles and was forced to listen to the English.

      As far as fighting goes, we used to do it in Spanish since Rodolfo didn’t know as much English, but now that I’m sure he can understand me there are definitely times when I yell something in English instead!

  4. Kate says:

    My Chinese students loved learning English through Big Bang Theory, Twilight and Gossip Girl and of course, Harry Potter. I’m a big Potter fan as well and my students and I take some time to read some text of Potter during class. As for dating a local, it DOES work. I’ve seen my friends with zilch Chinese suddenly making leaps in their vocabulary. My friend’s currently dating a Chinese guy. He speaks no English, she speaks no Chinese. Somehow they make it work through GOOGLE TRANSLATE :)

    • Emily says:

      That’s crazy! I think it would be hard for me to feel close to someone if we had to conduct our relationship via an online translator that makes ridiculous mistakes, but I hope it works out for them…or that one of them learns the other language sooner rather than later.

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