Again, another question came to my into my inbox. If you are lucky, you are living in the country of the language you are studying, but not everyone can do that. If you live in the country, you get lots of listening practice. You can watch TV, go to movies, have conversations, go to church, etc. However, if you are not in the country, it is hard to do all those things, but not impossible.. If you don’t live in the country, you can get a DVD and watch it again and again until you are catching the words better and better. You can listen to music and learn to hear the words of the song and sing along. When you watch TV, movies, and DVDS, try to copy what they say. Here are the levels.
First, listening to songs again and again is the easiest. If you can’t catch all the words, look the words up on the internet, and after a bit, the words will become clearer to you. my Korean son in law has been trying to learn to speak Spanish, and he can now sing “La Bamba” by the Lobos very well! I need to get him singing “Eres tu” also because I also have that on a CD. If you don’t have an CD’s, you can find lots of good songs on You Tube. I have taught lots of students Christmas Carols in English, and they completely enjoyed it. . You learn to hear it, and to say it.
Next, watch a TV program or a DVD again and again until it is easy to listen to. There is also a technique they call shadowing. I have known students who speak English well because they watched the TV shows and movies and copied everything they heard. Their pronunciation was very good. They sounded like native speakers. First, though, you have to teach yourself to hear what they are saying, so watch it again and again. The Japanese say, “Practice, practice, practice,” and they are right. If you are studying Spanish, I really recommend the Tele Novela shows. However, be careful because you might end up listening to Portuguese instead of Spanish. However, Portuguese and Spanish are very similar, and I was surprised when I could watch Tele Novela both in Spanish and Portuguese. Tele Novela shows can really be fun. Watching Korean Dramas is good for people studying Korean. I have watched them on TV, but from what I understand, many of them are on the internet. Try “Secret Garden” or “Annyeong Francesca.” “The Secret Garden” is a kind of modern day Cinderella story, and “annyeong Francesca” is a comedy about Korean vampires. If you can find the Korean drama “My Girlfriend is a Nine Tailed Fox,” that one is good too. It is cute and teaches you about Korean culture. I watch Korean TV without subtitles, but I have heard the Korean dramas on the internet may have subtitles. You can learn from the subtitles, but don’t look just at the subtitles because you will defeat your purpose. One of the ways I learned Romanian was watching Romanian TV in Romania, and it really does help.
The next level of hardness in learning to hear a foreign language is watching the news. The movies and TV shows have conversations, and they speak slower if they are having conversations, but the people broadcasting the news in every language speak faster. They are usually reading, but you can’t see anything but their head talking to you. I used to listen to Japanese news, and I actually learned that the people talking about the weather were the easier to understand because they used an easier vocabulary that you usually study when you study a foreign language. The Japanese conversations on the TV shows and movies may also be more difficult to hear than other languages because they may use the more informal Japanese, but the Japanese newscasters use the more polite Japanese like is taught to foreigners. However, for most languages you study, the newscasters use a more complicated vocabulary and speak faster. Except for Japanese, they will be the hardest to understand. when I began listening to Romanian newscasters, it really took a lot of concentration, but I kept up, and it made my Romanian even better.
Good luck in your language studies. It takes dedication, but if you don’t give up, you will be doing what you want to do. According to how much time you put into it, you may learn to speak quickly. I spent a lot of time in school studying Spanish and letting my teacher guide me. In Spanish 2, I went to Mexico and was speaking Spanish, but really didn’t realize it. I was just playing, but later, to my surprise, a Mexican lady told me she thought I was fluent. I met a girl from South America who could speak English, so I asked her how long it took her to learn to speak English, and she said two years.
I spent two semesters in Japan and I also had lots of Japanese friends in the States and wrote back and forth to my friends in Japan. I had a lot to do with Japan for a long time. I studied one semester in Japan, went home for two semesters, and then went back another semester. I was translating and teaching Bible classes in Japanese the second semester. I didn’t let myself get bogged down in kanji. I just tried to speak, and I did.
When I went to Romania, Spanish was a great background, because of the similarities. There were no books to learn Romanian and no internet. I got a Romanian English teacher to help me. He taught me from Romanian children’s books. In six months, I was basically speaking, and got to the point that I was everyone’s translator and could read novels, history, and Philosophy in Romanian. . I am just trying to tell you it is possible.
Just apply yourself. Don’t give up, and it will happen. Korean has taken me longer because I didn’t plan on learning to speak Korean because I was just too busy as a professor to take a class or study a language, but I learned anyway because I was trying to help my students. I never feel like I am finished. I always think I need to improve my French, and I will. I can watch movies in French and speak a little, but not much, but if I applied myself, I am sure I would do better. That is what it takes: applying yourself. It doesn’t matter if you think you have talent or not. It takes effort for everyone, but it is possible. Just don’t give up,. and you will do what you want to do. Watch TV, learn songs, study the verbs, keep a diary, read books, etc. It will happen.