Expand Your Learning

Your language learning experience should never be limited to just the books and CDs of the language course alone. Here are some great ways to make it a part of your life!

WEBSITES

The Internet is an endless resource for language learning materials. With just a few clicks, you can have newspapers, magazines, reference materials, cultural sites, travel/tourism sites, radio broadcasts, and a lot more to learn from! Web browsers are now available in different language so you can surf the web in your new language. Try reading and pronouncing the information you come upon out loud. Any interesting grammar constructions, idioms, or slang encountered? Write them down in your notebook and learn how to use them. (Be careful that you don't accidentally offend someone - make sure you know what you're learning in this case!)

You can also use the search engines to find new vocabulary and grammar constructions. Let's say you're learning German - if you type "auf Arbeitssuche" (looking for a job) into Google, you'll find many examples of this phrase as it's used in the real world. Check them out and see what you can learn. You can also find blogs or news sites in the language you're learning and work your way through an article or entry to learn and understand what it's about.

Once you find a site you like, bookmark it so you'll have access to it for learning in the future. Use the search engine to find websites that match your needs or interests (business, cooking, fashion, film, kayaking, rock climbing, coin collecting, photography, etc.). There is a lot more I could tell you, but you get the point.

COMMUNITY RESOURCES

Depending on where you live, there may be plenty of practice opportunities right close to your home: Cultural organizations, social clubs, and so on. Check with your local college or university to see if they have a department that hosts cultural events such as films or discussion groups. Go to a restaurant that serves foreign foods and practice some of your language skills with the servers and staff (see below under "Food").

FOREIGN FILMS

Movies are the ultimate non-stop dialogues with pictures, making them a great way to practice your listening and comprehension skills. Go ahead and check out what you can find on NetFlix, download a movie or buy a DVD and see what languages are available in the audio tracks. Some good ways to check yourself are:

• Watch the movie only in your new language.
• Watch the movie in your new language and use English subtitles*
• Watch the movie in English with the foreign subtitles*
• Watch the movie in the language you're learning along with the subtitles in that same language.

While you're at it, keep your notebook nearby in case you find some useful phrases and words while watching. See if there's a way you can incorporate them into your lessons and have something new to practice.

MUSIC

Listening to music is a fun way to learn a language. Not only will you hear all kinds of interesting songs, but you will also hear how the language is used to appeal to different age groups. Do you like Classical music? How about Rock-n-Roll? Or Easy Listening? Sit back, relax, and enjoy. If you're far enough advanced in your lessons and you want to have a go at it, listen to the pronunciation of the singer and see if you can sing along with the song. You can look online for the lyrics and practice your reading along with the singing. If you're not confident of your singing capabilities in English, then just say the lyrics to keep your speaking and pronunciation skills in tune (pun intended).

TELEVISION

In countries all around the world, the larger cities usually have TV programming in different languages. If you can't get one in the language you're studying, the Internet has hundreds of TV programs online in all kinds of languages - live TV or archived shows. Take advantage of these online resources, too! You will hear natural, colloquial language with all the idioms and slang you can get. If you don't understand anything at first, don't panic - the more you learn, the more you will understand. Also, look for the visual cues people make when speaking - body language and gestures can help you guess what they are talking about.

YOUTUBE

Go to YouTube and look for videos from other countries - there are thousands of them out there, from commercials to movies or clips from TV programs. You'll hear all kinds of ways to say this in different dialects, which will help increase your vocabulary and grammar.

FOOD

Are you hungry? A great way to learn a language is through another country's cuisine. Look in your phone book and see if there's a foreign restaurant in your area. Go to that restaurant and see if they have a menu in the language you're learning and read it, talk to the staff in your new language, eat that squiggly thing. If you don't want to spend money to eat out, or if you love to cook, look for cookbooks and recipes in your new language and read them as you cook a new dish for yourself. There are plenty of recipes online*.

As you can see here, you don't need to stick to just language books and classes to learn a language. There are hundreds of opportunities out there to improve your language skills. All you need to do is look for them and enjoy!

*Some recipe sites require a new profile to be created for all international sites.