Read these 5 Translate Your Personal Interests Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Learning Languages tips and hundreds of other topics.
If you think study abroad is for high school or college students, think again. One woman decided that after her retirement she wanted to study painting… in France! She didn't want to take a one- or two-week tour, she wanted to enjoy a more extended stay, and so she arranged a three month trip to France. Thanks to the Internet, she was able to make the necessary arrangements; it turned out that inexpensive hotels and apartment rentals were plentiful. She found an apartment with her own entrance, washing machine, and cooking facilities for a 3-week stay in the home of a retired art teacher from England who had recently moved to St. Chinian, France, another small village. There is no reason why anyone could not develop their own program of learning or study in a foreign land in a similar do-it-yourself fashion.
Google offers search engines for web sites in multiple languages. Go to http://www.google.com/language_tools (see screen shot below) and you can look up foreign language web pages in everything from Catalan to Turkish. Google also offers computer translation on the same page, where you can translate pieces of text into and out of several languages. You can even enter a web page and see the whole thing in a new language. While I wouldn't want you to use these as a crutch, just paying around with these tools and seeing how the system renders phrases can be an easy way to pick up new words. Try it!
A foreign language magazine can help practice your language reading skills and help you stay abreast of developments in your fields of interest. Are you studying Spanish? Do you like cars? How about a subscription to Auto Mundo? Another option for Spanish speakers is Think Spanish, “a monthly publication designed to enhance Spanish fluency while teaching the reader about life in Spanish speaking countries.” To subscribe to foreign language magazines, look online for magazine subscription sites and look under “international editions” or “non-English magazines”.
Some people learn a language as a means to travel. Others travel as a means to learning a language. There is a deep truth here; you just can't beat immersing yourself in a foreign world as the fastest way to learn a language, except perhaps to learn some before you go, and then expand your language skills during your visit. What many people don't know is that there is an entire subgenre of travel dedicated to travel for the sake of learning languages. Check the Internet and other travel outlets for information on special tours and travel deals specifically designed to help you learn a language. Some of these include classes and workshops. One of the more well-known is the Ulpan programs in Israel where you go work on a Kibbutz and study modern Hebrew.
If you want to really understand world events, you have to get a view from all sides. A foreign language newspaper can give you details on stories that get only modest coverage--or none at all--from the American press. If a major story is unfolding in a region where you know the language, reading the news from that area will give you many times the quantity and quality of information you're likely to get otherwise. In larger cities, better newsstands and university bookstores often carry a range of foreign newspapers. Sometimes larger public libraries also have them available. You can also subscribe, of course, and there are a lot of subscription web sites available that can hook you up with a newspaper or magazine in the language of your choice, or you can go to the publication's web site and often find lots of great content for free.