Unconventional ways to learn a new language

For the Centro para el Desarrollo de Lenguas Extranjeras becoming a bilingual or polyglot person isn’t just about attending school lessons; it’s also about incorporating innovative ways to routinary activities like cooking, checking on your phone or playing videogames

Unconventional ways to learn a new language

Schooldays seem far behind amid the COVID-19 crisis. The time when you would sit in a classroom and listen to the teacher while taking notes has now switched to online meetings. Yet, learning has not stopped, it’s evolving. Teachers are turning to Skype, Zoom, Whatsapp and other platforms to get through their students. This means that the old-fashioned formula classroom-teacher-book-student is not carved in stone.

Those who want to learn a new language know that the online option has been around for quite some time now. There are thousand courses they can take and apps to download to get the grip of foreign tongues. The Centro para el Desarrollo de Lenguas Extranjeras (CDLE) has a few of its own: for instance, they offer some options using Duolingo, there is also the Dual Immersion Program, some online workshops, and cultural events. These, in addition to traditional lessons, can speed up your process and challenge you every time.

Now, for those who want to take it up a notch and are willing to try new ways to learn, the CDLE recommends five alternatives to practice a new language.

1-   Trying out recipes in their original language: they’re not talking about five-star Michelin recipes. How about searching for easy recipes like cookies, brownies, pizza, or mozzarella sticks in English? Perhaps trying out French cuisine with some eclairs, millefeuilles, gâteau, coq au vin or quiches. Every single country has thousands of recipes you may try at home. Even if you don’t make it, try reading the ingredients and preparation so you learn some vocabulary related to kitchen and food. It’s just as simple as googling the recipe you want and adding a single word in the original language: recipe. Then, various options will pop up on your screen.

2-   Translating notes from school: yes, even though the attendance is now from home, it’s a great idea (if not necessary) to take notes in Spanish. The deal is to grab a new notebook and transcript the whole class into it. That is, of course, in the language you’re learning. Try doing the most you can on your own. However, help from a dictionary might be a great ally for this purpose; furthermore, if you want to translate more precise and technical words from your classes, the internet could be the best alternative yet. Be creative. Perhaps adding colors to your notes or synthesizing lists and definitions may do wonders for this purpose.

3- Audiobooks can be found on several audio streaming services and webpages. Looking for books you have already read in Spanish, but in their original language, could be a great way to start because you already know the plot. Also, some audiobooks come with some visual help. For instance, if it’s a Youtube video, the story may come both spoken and with the pages on the background. However, for people who want to step up their game, the CDLE recommends searching for books or authors they have always wanted to read but never have. This technique may help increase vocabulary, reading ability, pronunciation, grammar, and overall lexicon.

4- Online gaming: this pastime can be turned into fun lessons. Yes, seriously. For people who love engaging in deep and -sometimes- addictive stories the thought of having to learn the language, the game is set on its natural. Not to be taken for granted, the amount of words that are constantly used is exceptional. Furthermore, it is a specialized lexicon. But not everything is about commanding an avatar to play a certain role; the players can interact with other people (from around the world) and there is where learning becomes more tangible. Trying to communicate with folks who don’t speak your language may be the greatest opportunity to learn a new skill. And with constant practice, it’s just a matter of months before the basics set in and helps you talk more fluently with others.

5- Changing the language settings on your phone: as people from this era spend most of their time on cellphones, it seems logical that certain commands, names, shortcuts, and applications are used as something automatic. The way to challenge that routine is by changing the phone language settings. Cellphones are extremely visual, just by watching the icon on the screen people know which app they are about to use. Therefore, if the features are now in a different language people can easily associate their known name with its equivalent in another one. By constantly looking at these names and saying them out loud, practicing new languages can become simple and new words become part of the user´s vocabulary.

The Centro para el Desarrollo de Lenguas Extranjeras focuses on presenting attractive ways to practice and learn new languages for the ucabista community. Besides, the CDLE also offers many innovative alternatives each semester. One of the events that have become a staple over the years is the Encuentro Limitless. There, teachers and students can become immersed in specialized talks and presentations given in foreign languages.

To learn more about the upcoming events and more language tips, follow the CDLE on social media: @cdle_ucab (Instagram and Twitter) or send them an email to the following address: [email protected]

By Grace Lafontant. CDLE intern/ Image: Freepik.es

*This article is available in spanish. You can read it by clicking here: Maneras poco convencionales de aprender un idioma