Oct 16

Learning a foreign language can be enjoyable – but exasperating. Anything you can do to accelerate learning or make language acquisition more enjoyable is a valuable weapon in your learning arsenal. Kathy Steinemann shares a helpful and unique approach to this challenge.

Take a look at the following two sections of text:

Version 1

The sky is blue today. I’m sitting on the beach. A bully kicks sand in my face. Too bad for him! Here come my bodyguards!

Version 2

One, two, a sky so blue. Three, four, a sandy shore. Five, six, a bully kicks. Seven, eight, he’s sealed his fate. Nine, ten, here come my gunmen!

Now go back and re-read the verses.

Did you notice that you have already started to anticipate what comes next in the second version?

Conclusion: It is easier to memorize rhyming poetry than to memorize prose.

So what implication does this have for learning a foreign language?

If you memorize well-written modern foreign language poetry, you can accelerate your learning curve. (Notice the keyword ‘modern’.)

Poetry written in the 18th Century may have deep cultural and educational significance. However, words penned to page over 300 years ago will utilize obsolete vocabulary, spelling, and grammar formations.

As an example: consider the popular King James Version of the Bible. If you started using ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ in your daily speech, people would understand you – but they would treat you like an alien in a time warp.

You can search the internet for poetry written by contemporary authors. Try searches like:

  • parallel translation poetry

  • parallel translation poems

  • parallel translation poems German English

  • parallel translation poems French English

  • parallel translation poetry Italian English

  • parallel translation poetry Spanish English

Substitute search terms as necessary with the name of the specific language you are studying. Review the webpages you find with a tutor, professor, or knowledgeable person to determine grammar and vocabulary suitability.

Attempt to have the poetry dictated and recorded by a native language speaker. Softly recite the poetry while you listen to the recordings. This will improve your verbalization skills. With luck, you may find online audio for some of the poetry.

Are you a budding poet? Try creating foreign language poems yourself.

No poetic talent? Attempt the following simple approach. If you are learning German, for example, you might produce a ‘poem’ like this:

the dog – der Hund

the mouth – der Mund

the air – die Luft

the scent – der Duft

to buzz – summen

to growl – brummen

little – klein

clean – rein

to brood – grübeln

to iron – bügeln

You don’t have to worry about grammar – just definitions, pronunciations, gender, and spelling. Alcor (alcor.com.au) has several rhyming dictionaries that can assist you with this process.

If you have an audio dictionary on your computer, listen carefully to the pronunciation of each word. There are also excellent online dictionaries with audio.

Now produce your own poetry recording using audio capture software.

  • First, dictate each English word or phrase and save as an individual file.

  • Next, save foreign language audio clips from your dictionary or from the internet.

  • Now load your audio capture software and play the files in the correct order. Try to create short productions of a minute or two in duration.

  • Edit if necessary to eliminate excessive pauses or add definite articles.

  • Finally, convert to MP3 or WMA. Now you can use your iPod or portable media player for something besides music.

The 21st Century is a wonderful time to be learning a foreign language!

©Copyright Kathy Steinemann: This article is free to publish only if this copyright notice, the byline, and the author’s note below (with active links) are included.

Kathy Steinemann

Oct 14

I found a forum on google but its not very active so it would be a waste of time to sign up. Are there any other places online to find people who are learning Italian? I think communicating will help me improve.


Oct 13

While there are many who have enjoyed learning and speaking the Italian language, there are still people who are hesitant to continue learning Italian no matter how badly they really want to learn it. The Italian language is just one of the many international languages that need to be learned with dedication and pure interest.

There are people who just think too much of the disadvantages or ‘what if’s’ in learning the Italian language before even doing the real work first. But the real problem here is that, with this kind of attitude, there is really never going to be any work done, lesson learnt or even a single Italian word spoken.

Instead of wasting time thinking about what could happen or the difficulty of learning the Italian language, its best to break the myths and surpass the hesitations. Learning Italian could bring you interest you never thought you’d have and even the desire to visit the Italian speaking country at its best – Italy!

Now that it has been mentioned, the thought of not visiting Italy or visiting it for a just short time is one of the hindrances which most people think of right away and also the reason why learning Italian is never a top priority. But there is a purpose why you should learn the language. Many Italian lessons today offer survival conversational phrases which most likely can become useful if ever you find yourself under the shadows of the leaning tower of Pisa or inside a restaurant with staff and customers speaking Italian and Italian alone.

Another common reason why people refuse to get involve in learning Italian is because they think they don’t have the time to sit down and read on the texts of the language. Again, there are more sources now than before. It isn’t only getting to a language class where one can learn Italian but also online, movies, audio aids and immersion are tops for learning this language or even any foreign language for that matter. It’s everywhere and anyone can read through a 10 key point article about Italian basics each day. That could only take about 10 to 20 minutes.

The idea here is that there are certainly no limits to how a person can learn a foreign language. Italian is just one thing out of the other hundreds of foreign languages. It’s great to learn new things everyday and you don’t even have to lose anything. When you think you can’t, it could only be because you really don’t want to or just too lazy to do it.

Shareen Aguilar

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