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General language learning tips from Show Time Spanish

October 21, 2009

I was listening to an episode of Show Time Spanish today while I was walking downtown and it was the second episode where they gave little specific tips and tricks for language learners on how to improve their language learning. I thought I would write a little summary of what they recommended since there were a lot of nice little tips spanned over two seperate episodes (Episode 19 and Episode 27).

If you aren’t familiar with Radio Lingua I suggest you check them out. They have a lot of great podcasts! Find out more on their website or follow them on Twitter. (@radiolingua)

Portable flash cards

Make little flash cards and always have them with you. (I think every single language blog/book/podcast/teacher recommends this!) Write the word you are learning on one side in the language that you are learning, and a translation or a picture of the word on the other side. Review them whenever you have a chance! (waiting in line, riding the bus, etc.) Little flash cards are great because they are small and easy to bring with you, and if you’re busy you can get a surprising amount of studying done in those little “stolen moments”.


As with the flash cards, write the word you are learning in the language that you are learning on one side and the translation or picture or even description of the word on the other side. Stick the important ones on your bathroom mirror! What else are you going to do while you are brushing your teeth? 🙂 You can also use them to learn vocabulary of household objects. Stick foreign language labels on your TV, fridge, table, chairs, etc.

Talk to yourself

In the morning, think about what you are going to do that day and say it out loud in the language that you are learning. At the end of the day before bed, tell yourself what you did that day. This way you can practice both future and past tenses of verbs (and also vocabulary, of course!)
Another idea that I came up with was to use the journal feature on Lang-8 to do the same thing, but in writing. Write a quick entry at the beginning of the day saying what you plan to do that day, and at the end of the day, write what you did. Your texts will be corrected by native speakers of the language that you are learning! (I love Lang-8!)

Reading and highlighting

Find shorts texts online, in a magazine or newspaper in the language that you are learning, on any subject that is interesting to you. If the text is online, print it out. Using different highlighters, highlight all of the verbs in one colour, the nouns in another. This will help you get a good feel for the structure of the language. I recommend you look up any new words and add them to your portable flash cards!

Turn a text into a puzzle

Find a text online in the language that you are learning that looks interesting to you. Copy the text into a word processor and read it a few times through to memorize it as best as you can.
Print the document. Cut the text into little pieces (1-5 sentences per strip, I’d guess) and try to rearrange the text in the original form!

Listen to some authentic podcasts

Open up iTunes and go into the iTunes store, scroll to the bottom and change the country to a country where the language you are learning is spoken. Unfortunately, you cannot buy anything from a foreign iTunes store unless you have a credit card registered in that country, but the good news is is that you can find some authentic podcasts that people who are native speakers of the language you’re learning listen to! (Good news for any Spanish learners who are also soccer fans, there seems to be un MONTÓN of soccer podcasts from Spain!)

Learning two languages at the same time

It’s not easy! There are advantages and disadvantages to learning two languages at the same time, but to help overcome the main disadvantage (getting both languages mixed up in your head) you need to separate the languages in your head as much as possible. Study one language in the garden, and the other one at your desk. Study one on the train, and one on the couch. One in the library, and one at home. Write one language in one colour, and the other language in another. One language in a blue notebook with a blue pen, and another in a red notebook with the red pen. You need to be quite organized to study two languages at the same time!

That’s all for now! Again, I highly recommend the Radio Lingua podcasts to any language learner or enthusiast! Until the next time, hasta luego! 🙂

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