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Learning a Language: 6 Effective Ways to Use the Internet
There are many ways to learn a new language: you can live in a country where the language is spoken, attend a formal language class, get a private language teacher or use books and texts. materials. Other ways to learn a foreign language are listening to CDs or audiocassette tapes, watching TV, movies and video programs, memorizing phrase books, using the Internet or using a combination of all of the above.
But not everyone can arrange to live in a foreign country. Native speakers of the language may not be available. Written or recorded commercial materials may not be available in the language of your choice (Cochimi, Cibemba or Kukapa, anyone?) Indeed, many major languages such as Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese broadcast in cable TV programs. Even Korean, Catalan, Arabic and Japanese have their places of use in cosmopolitan areas around the world; but most of the thousands of spoken languages in the world do not exist outside their local areas. So what’s a future polyglot to do?
One answer of course, is the internet. Plug “foreign language courses” into an internet search engine like Google or Yahoo and more than 62 million hits immediately appear. From Afrikaans to Punjabi, and Hebrew to Zulu, thousands of listings are in front of you just a click of the mouse away. So, can the internet be used to learn a foreign language? Get started effectively by using these six methods:
1. Do an initial evaluation
The first thing you want to know is where you are on the language learning curve. An initial evaluation of language skills is in order; are you a raw beginner? False beginner? Intermediate level? Higher? Let’s take English as a second or foreign language as an example. English proficiency diagnostics tests are free online at:
• General English Test with instant results
• Parlo http://parlo.com/
(diagnostic tests in English, Spanish, and French)
• Upper Intermediate Test
If your score is above 80% in this test, you must take the next one and also show your teacher or tutor a copy of the results.
2. Become familiar with language learning strategies
How do you learn? Knowing this can make the daunting task of learning a foreign language less like studying and more like playing. Are you a Visual – Spatial learner who loves pictures, drawings, graphics and extensive use of color? A Musical – Rhythmic type would benefit from your lessons and materials set to music, rhythm or rhyme? Maybe you are the type of athlete who gets more success in learning through movement, movement, mime or even dance? Playing Mozart’s works in the background while studying has been shown to improve learning in many areas. To learn more about your learning style visit these sites to get started:
• Definition of Learning Style [http://www2.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/styles.htm]
• Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire [http://www2.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/ilsweb.html]
• The Types of Success Learning Style Indicators [http://www.ttuhsc.edu/SOM/Success/LSTIntro.htm]
3. Practice reading skills
Literacy is one of the most valuable compound skills of the 21st century. After all, you are reading THIS right now, aren’t you? Few want to be illiterate in their new foreign language so practicing reading skills is of utmost importance. Online newspapers, magazines, newsletters and blogs can provide the necessary practice and learning materials. Check out these reading comprehension skills sites:
• How to Read Your Textbook More Efficiently
• Self-study reading lessons http://www.english-to-go.com/
• Read the article at the following address:
At the address that follows, take the quiz to verify your
reading passage comprehension:
4. Help develop listening skills
Considered the most difficult of language skills to develop, listening cannot be taught. Instead, you must practice, practice, practice and then practice some more. Every week, twice a week I pass by a street vendor in the same place, who doesn’t understand what he’s saying. I know what he sells – I just browsed his wares. But his pleas in street Spanish fell on my language-clogged ears for months. Then one night, without warning, it happened. Just two days ago, her cries were still the same incomprehensible taunts they had been making for months. But that one night, when he launched into his huckster’s spiel I suddenly understood every word. My listening comprehension skills clicked. Why? No one knows. Especially not me, and I’m a post-graduate-degree Language Education Specialist!
Practice your listening skills with radio programs in your target language for a change at http://www.live365.com with a live global feed 24 hours a day in multiple languages.
Foreign language internet radio and foreign news radio in 27 European, 4 Middle Eastern, 9 Asian languages and audio feeds from 19 African countries are broadcast at: http://www .multilingualbooks.com/online-radio.html
5. Play and have fun
Vocabulary is often referred to as the building blocks of language. Vocabulary knowledge is one aspect that separates the level of language learning. The more vocabulary you know, the better you will communicate. Here are some great linguistic sites that will help build your language while you “play”:
• The http://www.manythings.org/ site offers “interesting things for ESL students” such as songs, jokes, quizzes, word games, puzzles, slang and even podcasts to help. to encourage the acquisition of the English language.
• The foreign language course site at:
there are activities in 27 languages including Finnish, Mandarin and Quechua.
• On the Transparent Language site you can play in any of more than 100 languages from Afrikaans to Farsi or Guarani to Yoruba. And yes, they have Zulu too. See all their listings here: http://www.transparent.com/games/
6. So which language tickles your fancy?
While the selection of language courses, tutorials, news feeds, music and other audio-visual materials online is vast, ALL the world’s languages are simply not available. Sorry. But there are many and here’s how to find yours online.
• 108 FREE online foreign language courses posted at: http://www.word2word.com/coursead.html
• The PARLO language website offers courses in English, Spanish French and Italian in: [http://www.parlo.com/parlo21/home/courselist/courselist_en.asp]
• EL Easton Language Institute offers 14 languages online from Albanian to Japanese, Latin to Croatian to Russian and Spanish. The site is online at: http://eleaston.com/languages.html
• Many language learning activities for the world wide web are available online for practice activities from the University of Hawaii here: [http://polyglot.lss.wisc.edu/lss/lang/nflrc.html]
Although the internet is not the complete answer to all your foreign language learning needs, it can be a great resource in your efforts to habla español, parlez francaise, or sprechenze Deutcsh. The prestige, financial gains, personal satisfaction, envy and opportunities that always follow the knowledge of a foreign language have no equivalent. Why don’t you start trying some of these effective ways to use the Internet to learn a language today. Be sure to read the accompanying article “Six Quick Tricks to Learn a Language” at: http://EzineArticles.com/?id=72718 By the way, if you come across Cochimi, Cibemba or Kukapa , please let me know – I’m still looking.
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