Outside Reading: Learning a New Language

Today I stumbled across a couple of blog posts that I found helpful and insightful. Thinking some of you might like them as well, I’m sharing them now.

The first – Destiny + Experience = Powerful Language Learning is from the blog, The Everyday Language Learner (an excellent blog full of encouragement and tips for learning another language) This post deals with why we learn a foreign language and how we might learn it better with total immersion or at least a good reason for learning the language. If you’ve moving to Brazil and don’t speak Portuguese, this blog is for you. Please pay special attention to:

“Finding ways to use the language you are learning, to experience the dream you have of mastering the language, is an inescapable necessity if you are to succeed. Thankfully, in today’s world, this is easier than ever before. Here are a few ideas for how to experience more of the dream:

Make a friend with a native speaker in your community.
Join a club or association. Here are two examples: The French Table in Omaha, Nebraska; The Chinese Association in Wichita, Kansas.
Visit Meetup.com and search for language meetups near you.
Use The Mixxer to find a language exchange partner you can talk with over Skype.”

I highly recommend you do at least one of these things, if possible, before you leave for Brazil. Learning from books, audio CD’s, songs and movies are all very helpful but actually interacting with another speaker, hearing them and having to reply appriorately is great. I wish I had done that more or with a group before I left.

What I found, was that people here didn’t speak like the phrase books or my lessons. I would say “Tudo Bem” and they wouldn’t just answer with “Tudo”. I’d hear paragraphs before I could meagerly say I didn’t understand. Of course, I did have my own native speaker in MGFI, but I think it’s different learning that way. She would go easy on me by not correcting a lot of my pronunciations. She knew me, so she understood what I was trying to say in several instances and let me slide.

Languages sound different when spoken. Your ear has to become accustomed to all of the strange unfamiliar noises. I had studied Latin for several years in school and had taken French and Spanish. So, I was familiar with Romance languages. Portuguese, I thought, shouldn’t be that hard. Wrong! I’m wasn’t fluent in Spanish, but I could understand it for the most part and stumble through a little bit of a conversation. Portuguese and Spanish are different but more importantly sound very different even when the words are exactly the same or just slightly different. That’s why I strongly recommend communicating with an actual person who doesn’t know you but wants to make time to help you. You can probably also help them with their English.

On to the second post, 5 metaphors for language learning from Matador Aboard. This is for people in the process of learning another language. I myself have felt like all 5 at different times, sometimes at the same time.

In terms of language learning, I think you just have to go easy on yourself. Prepare for many epic fails. Forgive yourself for messing up, dust yourself off and try again. I’ve found all of the Brazilians I’ve met so far to be extremely encouraging. If I get one word right, it feels like it’s almost parade time for how awesome I’m doing. I like that and it makes me want to keep trying. Of course, from time to time I get frustrated, become confused and yell at myself for not doing better. However, I keep going. It’s the moments when I do actually communicate something to someone in Portuguese that make all the struggling worth it.

4 thoughts on “Outside Reading: Learning a New Language

  1. I have another website where it helps study Portuguese before I arrive Brazil. http://www.livemocha.com where you can chat with native speakers, write, read and listen. The advantage of the site that it makes easy to people to help each other in “Swaping Languages” with native correction through the website itself. take a look and let me know your opinion.

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