The most difficult part of wandering is far and away trying to pick up a foreign language. Only a limited number of nouns and verbs are mime-able, charades style, so what does that leave you with if you need to say “tomorrow” or “work”? A frustrated shake of the head, a hapless smile and not [...]
The most difficult part of wandering is far and away trying to pick up a foreign language. Only a limited number of nouns and verbs are mime-able, charades style, so what does that leave you with if you need to say “tomorrow” or “work”? A frustrated shake of the head, a hapless smile and not much else.
I came to Chile roughly six weeks ago without knowing any Spanish. What some have called foolish, I’ve considered a proactive method of learning a new language. I take online classes and practice speaking every day, but seeing as I’m past my elementary-school-level development, my mind is no longer a sponge that soaks up scores of words a day. It’s taken much longer to cement word words to memory. And flashcards, although extremely helpful, can get tedious.
The sooner I can fully comprehend the language, the more doors will open. I’m floating in a pool of Spanish, but I want to make sure I can swim and not just stay afloat. During my time here, I’ve picked up a few (free) ways to learn Spanish beyond the classroom that have helped me tremendously.
1. Listen to Disney Songs on Youtube
Quite simply, translated versions of songs from movies like Aladdin or Pocahontas are perfect. The movies are geared towards children, meaning the words aren’t difficult, specialized or particularly fast, which is something any beginning student needs. Since the material is familiar, you are in a position to listen for words in the new language that you know in English. Plus, you can find videos with subtitles to help practice listening for words while also getting a feel for the native accent.
2. Go to a supermarket
Take some time to amble around a store, checking out the different words associated with different foods. You’ll have no trouble matching pictures to words. The food section is particularly useful since it will give you an upper hand in reading menus or requesting food at restaurants without a particular topping.
3. Change your computer/phone language
As soon as I changed my phone settings, I realized how quickly I was learning really useful words. “Reloj” must mean clock since it’s now below my time icon. “Tiempo” must mean weather because when I look up the daily temperature predictions, that word is in bold. My internet bar now displays “buscar”, so that must mean search. And, since I look at my phone quite frequently, the words seamlessly become second nature.
4. Read a Book
I love reading in my free time, and while I’m used to paging through A Brave New World or To Kill A Mockingbird I switch to easy Spanish book every other day. The local libraries have tons of options, even translations of popular English books, so if there is a book you’ve been meaning to read, try it out in Spanish. Kindle book version are really nice because if there is an unfamiliar word, you simply tap the word and it’s defined for you. By switching every day, I get to follow the adventures of El Gato con Botas but also sink my teeth into something more intellectually meaty.