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Language Study Methods #3

Updated on December 26, 2009

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Hello again.  It seems as though we have met before, no?  Well, if not, the question that you probably have is, "I have a language that I'm really interested in, but don't know how to approach my studies... What should I do?"

If you haven't already read my first two articles, give these a try before moving on:

Languages... Oh the drama

Now, in this hub, my goal is to analyze three new ways on how to study your specific language. Since I specifically study Mandarin, I will be using that as a base to compare all of my examples to.

Some methods that I have found useful in my attempt to master Chinese are the:

  • movie method
  • animal method
  • phrases method

Study Method #1 (Movies)

What could movies have to do with learning a language? Its very simple, actually. Movies serve as a great source of entertainment, whether in a foreign language or in English. Through my own experiences, I have found that watching movies in foreign languages helps to improve speaking speed and fluency.

While watching a foreign movie, I will:

  • invite several other language enthusiastics over to share the experience
  • mandate that no one is to speak English, and only the foreign language
  • Turn on the English subtitles so that words will be understood (although this may seem like cheating, it is often very difficult to understand actors' words, especially when they are speaking 3-4 times faster than you normally would)
  • Have everyone keep a sheet of paper to write down words they do not know. (while this may be inaccurate, it develops the listening abilities of practitioners. In Chinese especially, tuning the ear from the default language to the slurs and differences of a foreign language's dialect are essential for real-time use with native speakers.)

While I don't know much about movies in other languages than Chinese, I am certain that most movies are also compatible with a Spanish or French version.
But for those of you who speak Chinese, here are some excellent movies to check out:

Study Method #2 (Animals)

The second study method that I commonly practice is talking to my pet in a foreign language.  From discussing school to talking about what they would like to eat, this method is great for speaking time.  Although there is really no one to correct your mistakes, what is most important is that you are practicing your speech on your time.

Steps I take to make this method even more interesting are:

  • give my pet a name in the foreign language
  • give a specific name to the toys and food used to feed the animal
  • speak consistently in the language, only seldomly switching back to English
By giving names to the toys and foods of the your pets, you are enhancing your retention rate and developing a new type of bond with your lifelong pal!

Study Method #3 (Phrases)

The final method that I will share with you is that of the "Phrases" method.  Not dialogue phrases, but foreign language sayings.

By learning these, you will better blend in with a more culturally diverse, or concentrated, environment.

One of my own dealings with this method was during a venture into a Chinese shop in China town, San Francisco.  At the time I knew very little of the language, but did know the phrase, "A book holds a house of gold."  Fortunately, I happened to be looking at a Chinese book and mentioned this to one of the salespeople.  

Automatically, the man grinned, and when I went to go and purchase the book, he discounted the item 15%.  See, fitting in really does work!

Comment, Rate, Follow!

Feel free to leave a comment, rate my article or follow me to let me know how I'm doing! Thanks!


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      Michael 7 years ago

      Haha, I can really imagine that smile on the Chinese guys face when you said that.

      Great tips! Also, when you study phrases and movies, and automatically pick up grammatical language patterns and so on. I used this method myself, and it really works.