Arriving at one of the world's great cities is always a thrill. If, in addition, you've made the effort to learn the local language, you'll have added another dimension to your experience. And while you're exploring the city, you can continue to engage with its language. Here are 4 easy ways to keep on learning. I tried them out while recently visiting Oslo, Norway's capital. (Oslo's stunning new opera, above)
1. DECODING SIGNS WHILE EXPLORING ON FOOT
Oslo's Karl Johans gate (right) is a pedestrian way that sweeps through the city from Sentralstasjon (central station) to Slottet (the royal palace). It is lined by cafés, shops, office buildings, and is always bustling with activity. As you stroll along this street, you meet a constant stream of visual language: signs on buildings and apartments; signs regulating car and bicycle traffic; advertising signs in stores, etc. Some of these are translated into English, but many are not. It's fun to guess the meaning of these signs, and armed with a small dictionary, you can decipher many of them. Since many words and phrases pop up in various locations, you'll start to recognize and learn them.
For Norwegian, knowing another Germanic language (such as English, Dutch, or German) is helpful. An ad on a tram (left) reads: "ring billig til utlandet": "ring" (American: call); "billig" (same word in German: cheap), "til" (to/until); "utlandet" (close to German "Ausland" or Dutch "buitenland," meaning "abroad.") Sometimes though, you have to chuckle at the shift in meaning. For example, a sign at an Oslo Parking garage (right) reads "LEDIG" (Vacant); the German word "ledig" means "unmarried." Or, you have to be beware of out-and-out false friends: Norwegian "barn" means "children" in English.
2. LISTENING TO ANNOUNCEMENTS ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Oslo has an excellent network of buses, trams, subways (T-bane), ferries, and local trains that take you to practically any point in the city and to many towns in the surrounding county Akershus. A 7-day all-inclusive pass helped us round out our sightseeing. Just for a start, we took the T-bane to the Holmenkollen hopp (ski jump); the tram to Vigelandsparken, an amazing open-air sculpture park (see a sculpture by Gustav Vigeland, left); and the ferry to Nesoddtangen (a village 4 miles south of Oslo).
Stops on trams, buses, subways, and trains are shown visually, but they are also announced aloud in Norwegian. For me, this was a fun way to learn the correlation between spelling and pronunciation. Norwegian has many silent letters, plus a few letter combinations that are totally unpredictable for a native English speaker. Listening to the names of stops, as well as to lengthier general announcements is a good way to get the music of the language into your ear. Moreover, everything is spoken in Norwegian first, and then in English, allowing you to double-check that you've really understood the meaning.
3. READING DUAL-LANGUAGE TEXTS IN MUSEUMS
Oslo offers a host of interesting museums, some housed in spectacular buildings, others tucked away in formerly private apartments. Each exhibit provides well-constructed, colorful background stories - in Norwegian and English. As you read about the artists, the individual works of art, the history of the city, etc., you can have a language lesson to boot.
From dual-language plaques, we learned about Munch's lengthy stays in Berlin and Paris and his bohemian life there (Munch Museum); we read that Ibsen had lived abroad for 27 years and the reasons why he did his best writing outside of the country (Ibsen Museum); we discovered that, when in 1905, the Danish Prince Carl and his British wife became King Haakon VII and Queen Maude of Norway (Hollenkollen Museum), they and their children became avid skiers (see the royal family, right, and read our recent blog Language Politics).
4. SPEAKING THE LOCAL LANGUAGE
Last but not least, it was fun to try out our practical, phrase-based Norwegian. We are far from fluent, but every time we made a purchase, ordered food or drinks, bought tickets, or asked for directions, we practiced the language we had so far acquired. Waiters in cafés or restaurant were usually multilingual and when our Norwegian didn't suffice, they joined us in language-switching back and forth between Norwegian, English, German, and sometimes Spanish and Italian.
When you think about it, a city offers a lot of free and fun resources for language learning. You just have to become aware of them and use them as they come up. Keeping a 3"x5" spiral notebook with you to write down any new words or phrases you see or hear, will help you remember and learn.
During our recent trip along the Norwegian coastline from Bergen to the Northcap (left) and Kirkenes, on the Russian border, we had an opportunity to learn much about Norwegian history. Yes, the Vikings were a frequent topic of conversation and the focus of excursions. Between the late 8th and the middle of the11th century, Vikings had ruled the North Sea and had even ventured into the Mediterranean Sea. Also, there's evidence that they had reached Iceland and Greenland. Leif Erikson may well have been the first European to set foot on mainland America. But we also found the more recent history of Norway and especially the role of language quite interesting.
Nordic Languages: Danish - Norwegian - Swedish
Although friends had told us that these Nordic languages are quite similar to German, my one-month Swedish course did not yet make this obvious to me. And sitting at a dinner table with four Swedes every night, I never caught any part of their conversation - except if they switched to German or English for our benefit. From Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes on the ship we learned that they can generally understand each other's language (regional dialects excepted). However, one Swede told us that he did not at all understand a young Norwegian man, because he spoke Nynorsk (New Norwegian). In Norway, the predominant language, Norwegian Bokmål, is spoken by more than 86% of the people, but as the above Wikipedia link further explains, the language situation is quite complex.
Nynorsk – a newly created language
As we inquired further into Nynorsk, we learned that this language was created by Ivar Aasen in the middle of the 19th century from old Nordic dialects. (In this Wikipedia entry you can read more about the use, distribution of Nynorsk, and related issues.) One would ask: why create a new language? For Norway, language was a way to reinforce a distinct Norwegian identity, as the nation strove for and then acquired, in 1905, its independence from Sweden. Some Norwegians suggested to us, however, that with Norway's affluence and growing national confidence, the movement for popularizing Nynorsk may be slowing down. The benefits of a second national language taught in school are being questioned as other languages become ever more important. (I am leaving out of this discussion any local dialects and the distinctly different language of the Sami, the indigenous Finno-Ugric people inhabiting the northern part of the Scandinavian peninsula.)
A little more Nordic History
After the end of the Viking era (around 1050), Norwegian tribes and communities were ruled for centuries by Danish and then by Swedish kings. Nation states as such only developed in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, often after considerable strife. It was therefore surprising to some, when in 1905, Sweden accepted the plebiscite of the Norwegians, and agreed to release Norway from the joint kingdom of Norway and Sweden. The story of the peaceful dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden makes interesting reading for history buffs, who also may be intrigued by the people's election (!) of the Danish (!) crown prince as their new king.
Politics, Dialects, and "standard" language
In the past, political leaders have often tried to impose new languages on their people. When the Normans won the battle of Hastings in 1066, French became the language of English nobility. Although French certainly influenced and modified the language of English peasants and commoners, it did not replace it. (Read more in our blog: The French Connection) French became the language at many European courts in the 18th and 19th centuries and many French words found their way into the various European languages.
In the region of Catalonia, which includes the second largest city in Spain, Barcelona, the local language is Catalan. Catalan is both a spoken and a written language. As Castilian Spanish is taught in schools, most Catalans are indeed bilingual - although traces of animosity towards Castilian seem to remain, even, surprisingly, with some younger people. (Read more in our blog: In Barcelona Learning "Spanish" is Not Enough)
Switzerland has a somewhat different situation. Spoken "Swiss German" or "Schwyzerdütsch" is the common language in the German-speaking cantons, although there are noticeable dialect differences among them. However, "High German" or "Schriftdeutsch" (Written German), as the Swiss call it, is taught in schools. It's the printed language of newspapers and is used by all Swiss Germans to write. (With very few exceptions - see picture at right - Swiss German is not used for writing or print.)
Language and National Identity
Clearly, language plays an important role in a people's identity. In the case of Norway, it will be interesting to watch whether Nynorsk will survive and prosper alongside Norway's presently more dominant language, Bokmål.
And in case you plan to localize your product or service for Norway, Norwegian translation services by PoliLingua, provide high-quality translation services by linguists translating into their native tongues.
After you've initiated a conversation (see Part 1 ), you'll want to have a few topics up your sleeve to sustain it.
Know some basic information about the city and have a few phrases ready so you can introduce the topics that interest you:
- "He oído que ..." (I've heard that ...)
- "He oído mucho sobre ..." (I've heard a lot about ...)
- "He leído sobre ... en mi guía de viajes." (I've read about ... in my travel guide.)
- "Un amigo me ha contado mucho sobre ..." (A friend told me a lot about ...)
- "Hay mucho que ver en ..." (There's a lot to see in ...)
Know also a few interesting historical facts about the country. This means that you should learn how to say dates. Remember that in Spanish, dates follow this format: day, month, year.
- "Las olimpiadas de Barcelona se inauguraron el 25 de julio de 1992." (The Barcelona Olympics opened on July 25th 1992.)
- "¿No vivió Washington Irving allí?"
Say something about your stay in the country, where you're going, or where you've been, etc.
- "Me quedo casi tres semanas ..." (I'm staying almost three weeks ...)
- "Visito a amigos." (I'm visiting friends.)
- "Hoy sólo quiero explorar el casco antiguo." (Today I just want to explore the old town.)
- "Yo voy pasado mañana ..." (I'm going the day after tomorrow ...)
Learn to listen as well as talk. Be able to ask questions and make comments to show your interest in what the other person is saying:
- "¿Cuándo fue fundada? " (When was it founded?)
- "¿Cuándo fue eso?" (When was that?)
- "¿Quién es/era ...?" (Who is/was ...?)
- "¿Qué es eso?" (What is that?)
- "¿De qué está hecha?" (What is it made from?)
- "No sabía." (I didn't know.)
- "No estoy seguro, pero creo que sí." (I'm not sure, but I believe so.)
Obviously, the old stand-by, if you did not understand:
- "¡Eso ha sido un poco rápido de más!" (That was a little too fast!)
- "¡Podría repetir eso por favor!" (Could you, please, repeat that!)
Practicing some of these conversational phrases and expressions ahead of time will be quite helpful and impress your Spanish speaking contact. While such phrases will obviously not be sufficient for an intensive discussion, they will boost you confidence in speaking. The next step will be to add a few more topics and strategies to your conversational skills. In our last blog on this topic (Part 3), we'll guide you on how to close a casual conversation with a Spanish speaker.
Many language courses - be they books, CDs, online programs, or apps - are structured around learning particular vocabulary topics: “survival words & phrases,” such as greetings, numbers, directions, shopping, time, days, months, etc., or "categories," such as colors, food items, parts of the body, animals, objects found in the home, etc.
Clearly, these words and phrases are important to learn and know. However, if they are just introduced as a list and without context, they are difficult to retain. That's why GamesforLanguage.com has chosen a “Story-Approach”: Each new word is introduced as part of an ongoing story – a young man traveling to the country of the foreign language that is to be learned: Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.
Will this young man use all the vocabulary contained in the various topics mentioned above? Probably not. But the 700 words that make up the many phrases and sentences in each GamesforLanguage course will not only be more useful, but also easier to remember and apply. And that is what's important to most learners: acquiring vocabulary that they can use in daily life.
And for learners who already have some background in one of the four languages, GamesforLanguage provides a fun and effective way to “brush up” on their foreign language. They can skip the “Memory Games” and immediately focus on “Snap Clouds,” “Shooting Gallery,” or “Word Hero” to test their vocabulary; practice translation and sentence building with “Word Invaders” or “Shoot Out”; and train their pronunciation with “Record It.” Interacting repeatedly with the elements of “The Story” - hearing, saying, writing, and recording words, phrases, and sentences in context - is an effective way to memorize, retain and learn to apply the language you're learning.
This YouTube clip for French shows how all the new words of "The Story" are playfully being learned in various easy games. And learning with a story that continues from Scene to Scene keeps up one's interest more than the often unrelated dialogues so many language programs are using!
When in a Spanish speaking country, you certainly want the skills to deal with daily, practical situations: ordering in a restaurant, asking directions, greeting friends or strangers, introducing others, purchasing, paying a check, checking into a hotel, etc. But you'll also want to be able to engage in conversations with locals or with a Spanish speaker you happen to meet anywhere. To do this, you must swallow your anxiety about speaking up and find ways to start, sustain, and eventually end a conversation.
Conversing with strangers can feel a little awkward in any language. A blog post that caught my eye: 12 Ways To Make Talking To Strangers Less Awkward has some good tips on braving such a challenge. Of course, these tips also work for talking with strangers in a foreign language. We've adapted them here for conversations with Spanish speakers. A good antidote to "conversation anxiety" is to practice some useful expressions ahead of time. You can start with the list below.
When initiating a conversation, act confident and comfortable, this will put the other person at ease too. Be sure that you know how to address a stranger correctly to be appropriately polite. Best to use a neutral greeting such as:
- “Buenos días,” “Buenas tardes,” “Buenas noches” (Good morning, Good afternoon, Good evening) or have a couple of polite phrases ready, such as:
- "Perdone ..." (Excuse me …)
- "Por favor ..." (Please [can you tell me] ...)
Formal "Usted" - Importantly, you should use the formal "usted" (the polite form of "you") as a starter with older persons, or in formal situations. If by any chance you’re being addressed with the formal “usted”, then you should use “usted” as well. That means, of course, that you also have to learn to distinguish between the appropriate Spanish verb endings. Listen HERE to a Spanish conversation where students talk about using the familiar "tú."
Spanish "How are you?" - By the way, in Spanish, it's fine to use "How are you?" (¿Cómo estás?/¿Cómo está?) as part of a greeting, even if you don’t know the person very well. Spaniards regard such a question as a token of genuine interest. Just make sure you use the appropriate formal/informal verb endings.
"Asking for directions" - Learn to ask for directions or for information; this may very well lead to a longer exchange. Start with a neutral greeting (see above) and follow up with a question, such as:
- "¿Dónde está.....?" (Where is.... e.g. the elevator?)
- "¿Cuál es la mejor forma de ir ...?" ("Which is the best way to go ...e.g. to Atocha Street?")
- "¿Sabe dónde/cuándo ...?" (Do you know where/when ...?)
The "here and now" - Comment about the here and now. For example when you're at a café, a restaurant, a museum, in a shop, at a market, etc. Talk about what's around you, what you see; you can even mention the weather.
- "¿Un cortado? ¿Qué es eso?" (A "cortado"? What is that?)
- "¡Ese es un edificio realmente precioso!" (That's really a beautiful building!)
- "¡Hoy hace un tiempo genial!" (Great weather today!)
Starting a conversation with someone in a foreign language may feel a little risky, but it's definitely something you can learn to do. Practicing some of these ice-breaker phrases and expressions ahead of time will be helpful. In our next two blogs we'll guide you on how to sustain(see Part 2), and finally, how to close a casual conversation with a Spanish speaker.
Summer camps abroad are becoming an increasingly popular choice for both children (ages 5-18) and their guardians. The extended summer break provides children a wonderful opportunity to experience new cultures, improve at sports or other activities, and enjoy a well-earned break with friends. Parents see the educational opportunities available and encourage children to take part.
I work at a summer school in Alicante Spain, and am fortunate enough to help mentor 14-18 year olds and teach them the Spanish language. Our ISC Spain program promotes the Spanish language and culture through educational, sport, cultural, and leisure activities. I am amazed how fast young students learn the language when they visit. It also made me realize how different the children's experience is at a summer school - where they learn or improve a language as part of a cultural event, as opposed to a classroom task.
The benefits of a summer school are huge for students. Their cultural experience ranges from reading city signs to find their way, to absorbing the language by listening and engaging with the local people. As students mix with locals, they will become interested in their customs and traditions. Taking part in local activities and sports means a unique integration into the community and gives students a chance to establish a network of friends with whom they can communicate in their language. The environment of learning becomes one with the culture. Here are my seven top tips to help you learn a language when visiting a summer camp abroad.
- Visit all the local shops and services when you first arrive. Make a note of their name in the language and only refer to those services in the native language.
- Revise and learn three good ways to open a conversation. This will encourage you to talk to people and communicate in the native language.
- When eating at restaurants, engage with the waiters and ask them to explain phrases you might want to know. They are friendly and happy to help.
- Take part in local activities and events. Immersing yourself in the culture will help you learn the language and customs.
- Keep a language guide handy at all times and study it whenever you have a free moment.
- Always listen to the conversations around you. Try and pick up on what other words mean and associate them to things which are familiar.
- Befriend a member of the local community and spend time with them. They can help you understand the culture and communicate in the language you want to learn.
A summer camp abroad will be an experience you'll remember for years to come, especially if you have forged friendships that continue afterwards.
Learning a language can seem like a lengthy, difficult process and, at times, it can feel like you’re wading through a sticky bog unable to get to the other side. Too many people focus on the end goal without thinking about – and acting upon – a series of smaller tasks that will help them reach that end goal. Whilst it’s good to practice every day to keep everything fresh in your mind, you don’t have to sacrifice other things. Taking ten minutes here or there throughout your day is enough, especially if you incorporate the language learning process into your every day routine.
1. Change the language on your phone
You probably already know your way around your phone pretty well, so why not change the settings so it’s in your target language? Seeing the language pop up every time you look at your device – which, let’s face it, is pretty often for most people – can help etch it in your memory, and the regular exposure will keep you thinking about it throughout the day.
2. Listen to a podcast
Most of us have some kind of daily commute, whether it’s to work or to the supermarket, which is the perfect opportunity to practice language learning. Download some podcasts or get a good audiobook to plug yourself into during this time and you won’t feel like you have wasted a single second of your day.
3. Read an article or news story
To familiarise yourself with the grammar and sentence structure of your target language, it is a great idea to read one or two articles in it each day. They don’t have to be long; just a current affairs piece or something on a topic that interests you. To take this a step further, try reading the article out loud to get used to the sound of the letters and to practice your intonation.
4. Flash cards and post-its
When I was learning to talk, my mum stuck post-it notes with the names of objects all around the house to familiarise me with how words look and to encourage me to learn more vocabulary. This is a great thing to do when learning a language, too. Of course, this method only really works for tangible objects – you can’t put a post-it on an abstract notion – but it is an effective revision technique as you will be looking at and using these objects on a daily basis.
5. Translate your shopping list
Talking of supermarkets, writing out your shopping list or your to-do list in your target language is another great technique to incorporate into the language learning process. Practicing writing things out gets you used to the spelling and formation of words and, if you don’t know the word for something you need, you can look it up and add a new word to your ever-expanding vocabulary!
6. Listen to some music
If you’re a music fan, weaving songs in your target language into your daily routine can be hugely beneficial as well as fun. Most songs are written in a casual manner, giving you an insight into colloquial language. Plus, they are great tools for getting to grips with grammar and pronunciation, and they’re easier to memorise than dry blocks of text.
7. Have a dictionary on hand
Pick up a pocket dictionary and carry it with you at all times. So, if you have a spare moment, you can have a flick through or, if you’re desperate to know what a certain word or phrase means in your target language, you can quickly look it up and add it to your new-found dialogue.
8. Play a game
There are so many online language learning games now that there is bound to be one out there that suits your needs and you find fun. Alternatively, if you are a big gaming fan, you can change the settings on your favorite game to your target language. There tends to be a number of conversations to move games forward and it won’t feel like you’re doing any work at all!
9. Sign up to a forum
The vast majority of countries have a range of forums on a various topics, from relationships, to writing, to computer programming like forosdelweb. So, if you’re interested in technology and you’re learning Spanish, you might want to sign up to a site like this for a great way view interactions between native speakers, to get involved yourself, and to gain some industry-specific vocabulary - if this is what you are looking to learn.
10. Write about your day
This is one of my favorite daily techniques because you can easily begin to see the progress you have made after a couple of weeks if you keep all your ‘daily reviews’ in the same place. You only need to write a couple of sentences about what you got up to, things you saw, and things you read or heard and it will keep the creative juices flowing in your target language. If you do it quickly before bed you can review it the next morning to keep the language fresh in your mind for the rest of the day.
Lizzie writes for GEOS Languages Plus and other language school sites. Last year she went to LanguagesAbroad to learn Spanish in Spain where she realized that language learning has to become a part of everyday life if you want to succeed. In her spare time you can find her exploring Europe and further afield, watching nature documentaries, and drinking an obscene amount of tea.
Last year my husband and I spent seven weeks in Spain, both to try out our newly acquired Spanish and to retrace the trip of our Spanish 1 traveler "David." We started out in Barcelona (see one of our blogs), and then visited Granada, Sevilla, and finally Madrid. It was great fun to use our Spanish in daily life - shopping at the open market, navigating our way through the city, visiting many of Gaudi's masterworks (see his Casa Milà on the left), making small talk with people we met as we went about our daily activities.
We found that it's fairly easy to acquire new words, especially if they are items you can picture or point to. But it was more difficult to learn and use expressions that have an abstract meaning. And such expressions often include those little connecting words that are called prepositions (eg: to, in, for, by, off, over, about, etc.).
The Challenge of Prepositions
Prepositions sometimes provide a special challenge for language learners. That is because they often have several meanings and don't translate in a logical way into other languages. For example, if you google the Spanish translation of the English preposition "to" in the online dictionary wordreference.com, you'll see that the ten "principal" meanings of "to" require 5 completely different prepositions in Spanish: a, hacia, de, contra, sobre.
Phrases with the English Preposition "to" translated into Spanish
- to fly to Madrid/to Spain - volar a Madrid/a España (a = to)
- to go to the airport - ir al aeropuerto (al = to the)
- to walk to the house - caminar hacia la casa (hacia = until)
- along the way to there - por el camino hasta allí (hasta = until)
- a vote of three to one - tres votos contra uno (contra = against)
- to apply pigment to a canvas - aplicar pigmento sobre el lienzo (sobre = over)
Let me say at this point that it's perfectly okay to make mistakes, and even if you use a wrong preposition, people will usually understand what you're trying to say. In a conversation, folks can easily ask you what you meant and you can quickly correct misunderstandings. And this means you'll have the kind of feed-back that will help you to learn.
How to Micro-Learn
It's a great feeling to master an expression in a foreign language. Once you've got it, it's yours and you can build on it. So it's worth spending a little time learning common expressions that contain prepositions, and there's no mystery about how to do it:
- Tackle each expressions individually.
- Practice saying it until it stays in your ear.
- Write it down, and/or read it, again and again, until you have it in your visual memory.
- Start using it in conversations and in texting and emails.
Your new expression will soon begin to sound and look right. Once that happens, attach a rule to it. For example: in Spanish, going/traveling to a city or country always uses "a." Then, when you try to say, "I'm flying to England" - you'll know what preposition to use: "Vuelo a Inglaterra."
We are often asked why we chose games and a travel story for our language program. We answered this question in a recent article on Omniglot.com and are republishing it here with a few minor edits:
Several years ago, my husband and I prepared for an extended stay in Italy by learning Italian with the three 30-lesson courses of a well-known audio CD program. Arriving in Italy, we could communicate well enough - although not speak fluently. However, we could read Italian only with difficulty, and writing it was a disaster. We kept spelling everything the French way, French being a language which we both speak fluently.
Before our trip, we had also looked at other CD and DVD programs and had tried several, including Rosetta Stone. But as the vocabulary did not match our interests or needs, it was hard to stay motivated and we were quickly bored. For example, in one of the early lessons of RS, we practiced (multiple times) all of the following sentences: the women are eating rice, the girls are reading, the horses are running, the boy is not driving.
Gamesforlanguage was born from of a simple idea: Learn language in a relevant context. If you can repeatedly hear, read, write, and speak the words, phrases, and sentences of a story, you'll remember them more easily, because you remember the context. To learn a new language, you have to connect it to your own experiences. With travel being a common denominator for many language learners, we decided to create a travel story of a young man traveling to the European countries of our four languages we currently offer. The everyday, practical language he experiences on his trip is bound to be relevant to most travelers. (The first 6 lessons of our new course, English for Spanish speakers, are currently available for a free try-out)
Learning with Games
But Gamesforlanguage.com is also offering something still different. Our games are not just individual learning clips, nor are they simply an addition to or an enhancement of a conventional language program. The games ARE the language program. Each lesson of our 36 lesson course is made up of games that practice one or more of the four language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Here are some examples:
- Memory Game: Memorize new words and phrases by hearing, reading, and saying them
- Snap Clouds: Practice by choosing the foreign word/phrase, hearing, and saying it
- Balloon Words: Train your ear by identifying the sounds of key words
- Say It: Repeat words and phrases aloud after hearing them (and before seeing them briefly)
- Deal No Deal: Discover the meaning of the story dialogue by simple elimination
- Word Invaders: Build a foreign sentence by clicking on the right words
- Writing Clowns: Translate and spell against time
- Record It: (not really a game) Hear, repeat, and record each sentence of the story dialogue
Other games focus on particular aspects of each language, such as pronouns, articles, adjective endings, basic conjugations, etc.
A YouTube Snapshot
This brief YouTube clip Play n' Learn with Games and a Travel Story gives a snapshot of some of the games in the first Italian lesson. By the time the learner hears the full story dialogue - just before "Record It" - he or she will easily understand it, after having memorized, heard, read, spoken, and written the words and phrases of the story several times. Starting with Level 4 - after 18 lessons - a slight change occurs. Now the story dialogue will occur at the beginning of each lesson, forcing the learner to guess the meaning from the context of the story and before discovering and learning the new words and phrases. This is quite similar to what a traveler will experience when he or she tries to understand a foreign conversation.
Grammar in Context only
In contrast to some other programs, gamesforlanguage.com teaches grammar items only as they come up in the context of the ongoing story. Grammar is not taught in the form of abstract rules.
For example: In the second lesson of our French 1 course, the following sentence is part of the dialogue: "Je suis contente que vous parliez français." We explain the use of the subjunctive form "vous parliez" (instead of the indicative "vous parlez") briefly why it is used: after a phrase expressing emotion ("je suis contente que ..."). That's all. At this stage the learner would be overwhelmed by a more detailed explanation.
Audience & Technology
Gamesforlanguage.com courses may appeal primarily to teenagers and adults. However, we know that children who have just learned to read and write also enjoy the games. The online course works on all modern browsers and, since January 2013, also on iOS6 iPads and iPhones (except for the recording feature, as Apple does not support the Flash Player). We are hopeful that multichannel audio for HTML5 will soon be supported by Android devices as well.
Traveling to France? Preparing for the trip may both heighten your anticipation as well as enhance your experiences there. Travel entrepreneur Rick Steves has called this Prepare for Spontaneity. A basic knowledge of the local language and culture are essential tools for navigating new places and meeting locals.
In our four language courses we are introducing the learner to various particularities of each language or culture. For example in our French 1 course our traveler Daniel learns about the "bouillabaisse". Listen HERE to a conversation between him and his aunt. Maybe your French lets you understand how this traditional French dish got its name. If not, you'd certainly understand it by the end of lesson 33!
The 36 lessons - we call them "Scenes" - take our "hero" Daniel (and, by extension you!) for a three week journey to France, where you'll learn the language of daily French life.
For example, in Paris, you'll visit with relatives, take a walk on a famous square, order "un express" and "une tarte aux fraises" at a café. You'll buy a train ticket to Aix-en-Provence. There, you'll ask directions to a friend's house, and on a walk around the city, learn about Cézanne's occupation before he became a famous painter. In Avignon, you'll take a bus to your hotel, and check in. Later, after dinner, a friend will show you the famous bridge. (Who doesn't know the song "Sur le pont d'Avignon"?) For your last week, you'll return to Paris.
Each of the 36 lessons is based on a dialog and on part of the story. In each lesson, you'll play your way through a series of games, with which you learn and practice vocabulary, train your listening comprehension, practice speaking by recording and playing back your own voice. You'll also get essential grammar and culture tips.
Your goal will be to exceed a target score so that you can move on to the next lesson and hear “the rest of the story.” You'll also be challenged and often able to understand the meaning of the next dialog through the context of the story alone – similar to what you might experience living in the foreign country, or following an original French movie.
So, maybe, next time you're sitting in a French bistro and see the "bouillabaisse" on the menu, you'll give it a try and even know what the name means...
- 4 Skills
- Adult learning
- Context learning
- Interactive Learning
- Learning with Games
- Memory Training
- Mobile Devices
- Online learning
- Quick French
- Quick German
- Quick Italian
- Quick Spanish
- Rosetta Stone Blog
- Social media
- Teaching Tools
- Training the Ear
- The Flamingo Path to Language Learning
- DECEMBER 2013 NEWSLETTER: A Crazy NEW Idea?
- 7 Key Ingredients of a Foreign Language Practice Plan
- Learning Grammar in Context
- Fluency vs. Proficiency in Foreign Language Learning
- December 2013 (3)
- November 2013 (5)
- October 2013 (5)
- September 2013 (2)
- August 2013 (6)
- July 2013 (4)
- June 2013 (5)
- May 2013 (6)
- April 2013 (5)
- March 2013 (3)
- February 2013 (3)
- January 2013 (3)
- December 2012 (4)
- November 2012 (4)
- October 2012 (3)
- September 2012 (5)
- August 2012 (3)
- July 2012 (2)
- June 2012 (4)
- May 2012 (7)
- April 2012 (5)
- March 2012 (3)
- February 2012 (5)
- January 2012 (5)
- December 2011 (3)
- November 2011 (2)
- October 2011 (1)
- September 2011 (2)
- August 2011 (5)
- July 2011 (2)
- June 2011 (1)
- May 2011 (6)
- March 2011 (1)
- February 2011 (3)
- January 2011 (4)