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LEARNING THROUGH THE CORONA RETREAT

LEARNING THROUGH THE CORONA RETREAT

Dear language learners. This post is about fun in learning, for all of you out there studying a foreign language. Think about the long-term and stay strong in these difficult times of the Covid-19. Our national hero football player Johan Cruijf always said ‘Elk nadeel heb z’n voordeel / each disadvantage has it’s advantage, or the other way around? There are plenty of technological solutions and fun things to do while you are in retreat at home!

IT IS A JOURNEY

I myself have native fluency in Dutch, German and English and have above medium level of Portuguese and Spanish. At the moment I am learning mandarin Chinese. I can tell you that learning a language is a journey.

While at home in The Netherlands I would study Spanish by listening to audio and even using traditional Spanish textbooks. When I then went to Cadiz, Spain, I worked on preparing a camp site and would always try to chat with everyone in Spanish while on break and try to understand what everyone was saying in Spanish. I would write down all the shopping items on paper and repeat them and try to pronounce them. The people around me were very encouraging or just simply laughed at me. That is something I mostly did not mind because I would just start laughing too. Just persevering is the trick. Even when obnoxious. Try to find people that enjoy helping you!

ALLOW FOR MISTAKES

It is important as a language learner to not be too hard on yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes openly, as I have found this the fastest way of becoming fluent in a language. The way to achieve this is to spend as much time being emerged in the foreign language of your choice as possible.

When I could not be in a target country of my targeted language, I would always try to google in the language that I was aiming to learn. This can be very hard for languages with another alphabet, but Google Translate is getting better and better. There are also nice movies or even series in the target language, which you will find enjoyable and helps you when you are in a more passive mood. I would even prohibit myself from watching YouTube in English but only see Spanish entertainment (like music videos and rap). That way your normal time spent on entertainment also becomes language learning. Even if it is not so fast, it all adds up.

FASTEST WAY TO LEARN

The fastest way for learning a foreign language, is getting a tutor! This can be an experienced teacher who speaks the language natively and also knows how to explain grammar and word structures. Also, they can help translate some words which you find in an interesting article you have read or a music video, which is more clear than looking up a literal translation.
I have used Duolingo and audio books to get me to the basics of mandarin Chinese for the first one hundred days of learning, but from now on I use a Chinese tutor as this accelerates my learning and helps me find better strategies for learning! Good luck to you all, you can find a suitable private tutor on Flowently! The tutor will work with you via Skype, Zoom, or WhatsApp video. We all hope the Covid-19 crisis is over soon. We continue to offer digital learning and in the near future you will be able again to meet our local tutors in person. For now, I am confident that you will find a great match with one of our online language tutors or let us help you find a tutor! Hang in there!

Written by Ben Ziskoven

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