Thursday, May 17, 2012

fun tips for learning a new language

So in my normal fashion I decided not to worry about that fact that I didn’t speak a lick of Spanish even though we were jetting off to South America. That because I’m so awesome I would instead be able to just summon English speakers to bump into me in the streets. This was so not the case, but I didn’t let that get me down. Even though I haven’t been able to prefect the art of summoning yet, I do pride myself in being able to keep a positive attitude and am a believer in the power of positive thinking. Having a husband attached to my hip who easily picks up new languages doesn’t hurt a bit either;)


My vocabulary is still well under 150 words {I think}, but I have picked up a couple of cool tips on learning a new language from some friends of mine along the way and I wanted to share them with you guys.

Tip from Liz Gilbert-

 Translate one newspaper article a day. In Eat, Pray, Love Liz said she would do this and it took her about an hour. Unfortunately I don’t really have the ability to do this every day with 3 kids running around, but I have been able to do a couple and it totally helps. I swear I’ll be able to read Spanish before I’ll be able to speak it. And this is only with 3 or 4 articles under my belt people.


Tip from Tim Ferris-

  When learning a new language immerses yourself in a topic you want to learn about. If you can’t stand economics don’t translate an article about commerce. Study what interests you. A week or so after I was here I picked up a copy of Glamour magazine. I loved it! It was in Spanish, and I enjoyed what I was translating as well. Good point about magazines vs newspapers is that magazines generally have more spotlight pieces with only a word count generally fewer than 50 words so you can translate something more quickly. Like when you are waiting for water to boil for pasta, or your kids are playing in the back yard.

Personal Tip-

Don’t use Google translate for the articles!! While I find that is it defiantly the most accurate for quick look ups-- if you take the time to look up the word in your dictionary, you are more likely to remember it.

Tip from Royal-

Get these flashcards!! They are fantastic!! They also have several other categories such as medical, SAT prep, and school topics. 


Second Personal Tip-

 Don’t rush into getting a tutor or enrolling in a language class when you get to where you are going. Even if tons of people don’t speak English tons of people want to learn how. People will want to practice with you—for free!! Ask around for a language exchange partner. Or you can also jump on this great website called Conversation Exchange which basically does the same thing, only has a broader search since it’s online. It also gives you the option to find people who want to practice, but on Skype as well. So if you aren’t going somewhere for a few months jump on and find someone’s profile that sounds like a good match for you. Contact them and practice ahead of time and {BONUS} you’ll already have a friend when you go.

How many of you can speak another language? I want to be able to raise my hand, but I’m still a work in progress. Do you guys have tips to share with me? I’d love to hear them.


  1. i love the tip to emerse yourself in something that you really want to learn! might just have to give this a try ;)
    xo TJ

  2. I like the idea of learning from the magazines and the concept of writing right on them as you go!

  3. I definitely read it better than I can speak it and I've been studying Spanish for years! Isn't it funny how that works? I would suggest placing post-it notes around your house on objects and in places you will see them on a regular basis. Then whenever you see the post-it note, just repeat the word a few times out loud or in your head to help familiarize yourself with it. It worked for me! I like the magazine articles as well. I definitely noticed that listening to conversations going on around me while I was in Spain helped me too. I would try and identify a few key word I knew to understand what the conversation was about.
    Also, learn the phrase 'Como se dice _________ en espanol' (how do you say _______ in spanish) and use it frequently whenever there's an object you can point at. At one restaurant, I had to go up to the waiter, hold up a spoon and say 'Como se dice -point at spoon- in espanol' because I had forgotten. I then proceeded to point at the knives and forks and ask about them too.
    It can be pretty gringo, but it's worth it when you finally have a full on conversation in Spanish with a complete stranger (holla!).
    I love you and miss you and I hope this helps!!!!