Hi everyone, today’s post is going to be about making the most of different resources to keep up your language skills: mainly listening and reading. This is ideal if you are not in the country which speaks your target language and want to keep on top of it while away from native speakers, or even if you just want to get a little bit extra while you are living the foreign lifestyle. I’ve been using most of these techniques while away in Spain and will probably continue to after my YA. So let’s get straight into it:
Watching foreign films
This is a really chilled way to get some exposure to your chosen language, you can get your friends round and have a movie night or just have some quality “me time”. I would recommend against using subtitles as watching films is to primarily improve your listening skills and you don’t just want to spend the whole time reading the subtitles. But if you do need a little help from subtitles then please don’t use English ones!! You will just block out the target language and will focus on reading rather than listening. The films don’t have to be originally in the target language, it still counts if it’s your favourite film but dubbed. I also recommend starting by watching a film that you have either seen before or know the story line to, this will help you a little bit incase you get a bit confused about what is going on.
Some films I’ve watched since being in Spain: Transcendence, Truman, Celda 211, Now You See Me (Ahora Me Ves)
Netflix and Amazon Prime Video: It’s possible to change your main language in Netflix which gives you so many options to watch foreign films and series, sometimes you have different films than are available in English but there is always something to watch. There are also several original foreign films on Amazon Prime Video but if you want to watch this while you are abroad you will need to be connected to a VPN.
This is the same as for foreign films really but is definitely more casual with a different type of vocab, don’t be discouraged if you don’t understand every word of a teenager vlogging because they speak very fast and use slang that isn’t always easy to understand. If you pick topics that you are interested in then that will obviously keep your attention and it is good practice for when you have conversations with people.
Read foreign books
It’s possible to purchase foreign books onto your Kindle which is what I have done here in Spain to try and bring along my reading. I am currently reading Harry Potter as I love the films and obviously know the storyline but have never read the books, not even in English! I’m also a huge reader and love to get my nose into a good book and spend hours just reading in silence. I’ve signed up to a 30 day trial to Kindle Unlimited which lets you download as many books as you want from 700,000 titles for £7.99 a month, this is perfect if you get through books quickly and don’t want to spend loads of money buying them individually.
If you don’t have a Kindle then of course you can buy the paper versions of books (who would have thought!) although they can be expensive if you go to a bookstore or library, a better option is to try and find a secondhand shop or look online to see if someone is getting rid of their old collection for free. There is a man in my local park that sets up a table and sells books a few times a week which I find so cute, might have to buy one myself.
If you struggle to find time to read then you can carry your book around with you for long or short journeys. I like to carry my kindle to work with me so I can read it on the bus there and back and if I am ever travelling anywhere I make sure it’s charged up and pop it in my bag. Although if you are using your Kindle make sure that you’ve downloaded the correct book so that you’re not stuck at the airport having finished book #1 and only have book #7 to read next… true story.
Read foreign blogs
This is also similar to the YouTube videos as it gives you a more personal insight into people and the vocab and phrases used is likely to be more casual (and some might argue more useful!). There are hundreds of blogs out there that cover a huge range of topics so I’m sure you will be able to find a few that spark your interest, some ideas include: cookery, travel, fashion and lifestyle blogs.
Ok so I know this isn’t a fully comprehensive blog post but these are the methods I use to keep in touch with my foreign languages that don’t require much active thought. Obviously there are lots more ways including studying grammar, getting a penal/Skype buddy, joining local clubs, changing the set language on your mobile/laptop, listening to foreign music/radio etc.
Let me know what you think and if you have any other tips to keep up your language skills. Hope you enjoyed the read!