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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Language Learning: The two flies with one swat mentality


Er, what? 'Hit two flies with one swat'? Well it's actually zwei Fliegen mit einem Schlag treffen, the German equivalent of 'to kill two birds with one stone'. Idioms, and how different or even similar they are, are one of the most interesting things to study in other languages - so as I was writing an article on how to incorporate language learning into your everyday life, I did a quick reference search online.

I'm currently brushing up on my German right now, but I'm not able to go on a language immersion in Germany right at this minute. That doesn't mean you have to put your language goal on hold, and in fact, the more preparation you do before you can visit the country, the more you are going to get out of it in the end!

Alongside the usual dusting off my University textbook and tracking down the nearest German-speaker in proximity for some 'quatschen und viele Tee trinken' (thanks Monika!), I've been finding that the best way now for me to continue to make progress in German day-to-day is to bring German into one of my hobbies. My textbook is brilliant of course, but it does require a certain amount of motivation to sit down and pore over vocabulary and text, whereas, if my German is related to something I would be doing anyway : wow, what a difference it makes!

My own personal example is very niche : as you can imagine it can be applied to many hobbies or pastimes. I'm a huge Formula 1 fan and happen to be lucky enough to be supporting two German drivers (or perhaps it's one of my motivations for learning German...?), and I've recently discovered that one of my drivers, Nico Rosberg, does a vlog not just in English after every race, but in German. They're only 5 minutes long at most, but are perfect for what I need: naturally spoken German, but with a translation (or in this case, an equivalent English vlog) if I get stuck anywhere. This way I can stay up-to-date with my favourite team, but also learn some important vocab!



Above is the vlog I was watching last night was after the Monaco Grand Prix, and I made sure that I wrote down at least 5 things that I heard and looked-up: 'unbeschreiblich' (indescribable) 'Weltuntergang' (End of the World - my fav!) 'schaffen' (to manage to do something) 'ich würde mich kurz fassen' (I'm going to be brief) and 'weichen' (to yield). Bab.la is a great resource for quickly looking up these new words, and seeing some more example sentences.

Are you a film buff? Ask a native what their favourite film magazine is, or check out a recommended foreign language film and dare to not use subtitles (or if you are feeling a bit too tired, try subtitles in that other language rather than in English)! One of my breakthrough moments in French was definitely when I went to see a Mexican film that was in Spanish, but with French subtitles, and I felt so proud when I was able to understand!

It all depends on your language level what kind of activities you can incorporate in. Love music? Find a foreign language radio station online or ask a native to recommend some good songs and learn the lyrics.

How about you guys? Do you already have some interests that you combine with your language? Are you inspired and now have something you plan to do? Or are you gobsmacked by a mistake I've made in my German? Let me know!

Bis bald!

Photo: Kate Deans
Edited: changed 'Weltuntergang' thanks to Monika's tip!