Friday, February 26, 2016

The benefits of odd hobbies... or more on language learning

Time. I just need some more time in my life. A recurring theme in conversations between M. and me is our moaning about not having enough time, either daily or in a lifetime, to try and master all that we wish we could. On my own personal list is the desire to be functionally fluent in multiple languages. In my imagination, multiple means upwards of six. There's good news and bad news about this little fantasy. The good news is that it is totally doable, even as an adult. Anyone can learn a new language, even if they have missed the optimal window of learning it naturally as a child. Our brains are pretty amazing things, and being multi-lingual is not out of the realm of reality for anyone, provided they are willing to put in the time.

And there's the bad news. Learning a new language, even if one has a natural aptitude for languages just takes time and the effort to memorize the new grammar and vocabulary. I can carve out a bit of time throughout my day to work on language learning, but it's difficult to carve out enough time to really make the progress that I would like. Being on the optimistic, compulsive side, I keep trying.

One of the areas I find most challenging is the aural component. That is, understanding what people say when they are speaking the language I'm trying to learn. It's one thing to read it... I'm pretty good at that and I even enjoy learning Mandarin characters. The listening-thing is where I struggle a bit. One of the tools I use to help with this is a website called Fluent U. The owners take videos, mainly from You Tube, and subtitle them in both English and the target language. I find this so helpful to hear a language being spoken by a native, in a native context, and also have the words down below. If you are learning another language, I highly recommend it.

As I was doing a little listening this afternoon, it suddenly occurred to me that not only does this site do English to other languages, they have an English set of videos for non-English speakers. Y. in particular, has been really wanting... needing... to learn more English. The firefly is great, but she is clearly needing more. On a whim, I set her down in front of the computer and started the first video. She loved it! Y. quickly figured out how to work the mouse and navigate the page, and spent the next hour watching English learning videos. R. wanted in on the game, too, so pulled up a chair and the two girls repeated English words together. Thus it had the added benefit of being an activity they could enjoy together.

So, if you have a new English speaker in your home, check it out. It's free for much of it, though about half of the videos are part of their premium package that you have to pay for. I have found enough to keep me busy in the languages I'm learning that I haven't felt compelled to upgrade, but if it turns out to be something that continues to work for the girls, I might go ahead and do it.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Pin It