At Tra.No – Be a Mouvement, we do work with & for & daily study the English, French, Russian, Norwegian, Dutch & Spanish languages. We do work with, study & daily learn the German (2002), Polish (2006), Arabic (2018) & Hebrew (2019) languages. Most recently (May 2019) we started to learn the Turkish, Hindi, Italian, Chinese (Mandarin), Kirundi (Rundi from Africa), Lakota (Sioux, from Siouan languages, USA) & (French) Sign languages as a self-directed learner.
All of these languages, do we offer and give the same equal amount of time, love, fascination, importance, interest, passion & respect. We consider they should all be equally legally protected and enjoy a consistent legal status providing them with the guarantee to develop, grow & thrive.
All of these languages, do we keep on learning and work on & with actively & equally every single day. We wish to work with and learn many more languages in the future. And we do know there exist many more languages to learn and discover in the world, all of which deserve the same love, interest, legal protection & respect from all of us. Every time a language disappears, this is a human heritage that is lost. Do learn & teach as many languages as you can: you actively participate in their preservation, evolution, development, protection, survival & future. And by doing so, the future of humanity.”
Aline Chauvier, Tra.No – Be a Mouvement
Learning Method – 1
A Personal Weekly Language Training Plan
Keen on learning foreign languages and very curious about other cultures, I defined a model for personal weekly foreign language plan.
The aim is to keep up on working on your language skills on various levels (reading, listening, speaking and writing), learning new foreign languages, opening new horizons and doors to other worlds, cultures and ways of thinking, promoting peace and understanding and reflecting about it with a mindset of opening, acceptance, respect and curiosity for fellow human beings. As well as putting all languages on a same level of interest. C.f. our ethic of Equality at Tra.No. Each language is of equal value to us and thus deserves the same work, interest, love, respect & time.
This model of week plan is divided in 7 days, each one being assigned one, two or three foreign languages (it is the one I personally learn, use and practice everyday). Most of my family life and members fully participate into the program as my child does have a Russian speaking father, is schooled in the Norwegian language and has a French speaking mother. Being raised in a three dimensional linguistic environment, my 4 years old does participate fully into the program. And he likes it. It is a worthfull advice to initiate your family, friends and acquaintances into the learning process : the more crazy people we are the funniest it is, isn’t it?
Monday – Norwegian & Lakhota (Sioux, USA)
Tuesday – English & Kirundi (Rundi, Africa)
Wednesday – French, Italian & Spanish
Thursday – Russian & Polish
Friday – Arabic, Turkish & Hebrew
Saturday – Dutch & German
Sunday – Chinese & Hindi
Language Training Work Plan
Each day of the week is thus dedicated to 1, 2 or 3 languages which are the main “theme of the day” (we talk in that language home, we listen to music in that language, the extra reading is made into that language as well, most of the day is around that or these languages), depending on the level of knowledge I personally have in each language. Some days are entirely devoted to 3 languages because they are languages I already have a good knowledge of and level in and are paired with all new and most recently included languages in my plan and thus require more focus and time. Mainly because I have higher qualifications and skills in the first does not mean I do not need to work them out and learn more. A language requires constant practice and everyday learning and in any case much deeper knowledge. Because my professional activities use some of these languages especially, they need to be worked out more as much as other new languages do for the time being. In the previous languages plan I designed earlier this year, I devoted 1 hour to main languages and 30 minutes to other new ones. I recently increased to one hour the time I devote to all languages, so that all are perfectly considered as equal. Previously paired languages were well worked-out at the weekend, when I had more free time and thus more availability to work them out as productively as possible.
Other languages in which I am only in a starting phase of learning / that I only learned for short / limited or extensive but remote periods of time (with the exception of Dutch which, although I learned for more than 8 years, still is not included into all of my professional activities, mostly because I do not consider my level as sufficient enough to) and thus are not really included in my main professional translating and writing activities, are worked out with as paired with other languages as a starting phase, waiting for them to reach an acceptable level. I previously only devoted 30 minutes to these 6 languages worked-out at the weekend. I recently increased these 30 minutes to 1 hour (2 sessions of 30 minutes each, as it has been proven more effective and productive to divide working tasks in order to perform more work along n individual day). I increased the time, because I noticed that by working in these languages, a routine establishes inside one’s mind which gives us the desire to keep on working on these language forward and keep on going into the learning process (a way to keep the flame alive, if you prefer to put it that way). The more you work on a language, the more you create space in your mind/brain for it (and in your everyday reality), which will make you remember the importane of it and increase motivation and desire to devote time to that language: both ingredients that are highly important into the language learning process to be effective and productive. I previously could not devote these languages as much time as the head languages I work with daily and because I had a little bit lower expectations to myself according to how much time I have or how much I wish to learn these languages and the level I want to reach in these languages, compared with the head languages I work with every day. I decided now that these languages would have en equal time to be given and that my expectations would be as high as in the other languages I work on professionally speaking.
All New Language Plan
Daily program: 15 minutes of work-out for each language every day
15 minutes of extra exclusive focused listening within the same day
Total: 4h15 of active Learning / LG training (instead of one hour) / Daily Work for each language a day (compared to one training of 1 hour a week for each in the previous program) + 4h15 of focused listening = 8h30 of lg training / day
Advantage: intensity, repetition & focus (shorter periods of work-out)
– Languages List –
- LG 1 – Norsk
- LG 2 – Français
- LG 3 – English
- LG 4 – Pусский
- LG 5 – עברית
- LG 6 – العربية
- LG 7 – Español
- LG 8 – Deutsche
- LG 9 – Nederlands
- LG 10 – 中文
- LG 11 – Polskie
- LG 12 – Italiano
- LG 13 – Hindi
- LG 14 – Türk
- LG 15 – Kirundi (Rundi, from Africa)
- LG 16 – Lakhota (Sioux, Siouan Language from USA)
- LG 17 – Sign Language (French)
-Daily Languages Plan & Training –
From the 1 september 2019, I adopted a new work schedule, my language training is set from 9 am to 1h15 pm every day (except from Sunday) as a block with each language following each other consecutively.
Previously I followed this training schedule:
- 6.00 >> 6.45: LG plan (1-2-3)
- 8.45 >> 9.00: LG plan (4)
- 8.30 >> 9.15: LG plan (5-6-7)
- 11.45 >> 12.00: LG plan (8)
- 12.30 >> 13.15: LG plan (9-10-11)
- 15.45 >> 16.00: LG plan (12)
- 20.30 >> 21.15: LG plan D (13-14-15-16)
- To be placed when free time any time of the day >> Free Electron LG plan (17)
- All sessions are repeated everyday – Sunday: 4 hours of workout are devoted to vocabulary review & general knowledge, research & learning about the languages
-How are the languages worked out-
– Duration of work-out – 15 min / day / language (for each language, each worked-out everyday)
– At least 3 skills – During the work-out, at least 3 skills must be worked on simultaneously
– The best is to work on the 4 skills simultaneously
Ex: A typical work-out of 15 min – the 15 min are divided into 3 consecutive sessions of 5 minutes. Every 5 minutes, the type of learning activity changes (use of different learning websites & thus way to learn) ! the level of difficulty increases all along the work-out session as the type of learning activity changes ! a 15 work-out can be finalized by 5 minutes of reading the press in the learned language – when reading it, the learner can read it outloud as well – it can listen to the reading by the newspaper itself (www.telegraaf.com for exampel offer read sound podcast for every articles that you can listen to while reading). It is adviced to turn on and listen to the radio (or the music) in the learned language all along the 15 minutes in order to work all skills at the same time (if this is bothering you while learning, you can decrease a little bit the volume – but still have it as the background sound) ! The languages theme of the day has its own music turned on all along the day, but not during the 15 minutes work-out sessions of other languages (it is more effective to focus only on one languages at all levels when learning a language and not on 2 differents at the same time (although interpreters do that all the time: they listen in a language and speak in another 🙂 and there is nothing dangerous in it, it is just something we decide not to do in order to avoid mixing languages and guarantee each of them the same amount of totally devoted work-out, attention and learning !
– A typical 15 min work-out –
For Languages at beginners level: Turn on the radio in the language- 5 min of learning basic website – read aloud everything you learn & write down everything you can & want to practice hand writting – 5 new words written down (check translation & definition and write it down in notebook) – switch to another website with another method – 5 min of another wesite (same advice as for the first 5 min) – terminate with 5 minutes of reading the press or literature / a novel (read aloud or listened as available on the website of the newspaper) OR terminate by a online turotial (youtube for example) in order to practice the language orally & differently (fantastic native speakers took their time to post awesome and useful tutorials on youtube and else, use them, they are highly valuable tools) – if you do the first aternative one day, change the next and come back to the first the next day
For more advanced Languages with higher level 6 qualifications: Turn on the radio in the language – 5 min of reading the press (read aloud or listened as available on the website of the newspaper) – read aloud everything you learn & write down everything you can & want to practice hand writting – 5 new words written down (check translation & definition and write it down in notebook) – switch to another type of reading – 5 min of reading a novel / literature or else (same advice as for the first 5 min) – terminate with 5 minutes of listening to a video / a film / a Tedtalk event / a conference / a lecture about a topic you are passioned or interested about online (youtube, tedtalk, etc.)
For both categories of languages –
A film can be divided in 5 to 10 min sequences during a whole week or more for an advanced languages and/or also a film with subtitles on in an advanced or beginners level language to practice fast reading and this can constitute one of the 5 min or more sequence of a single work-out
Changing types of activities every 5 minutes and working on all levels & skills at a time and during he whole work-out stimulates much more your brain than working on one skill at a time.
Practice the language everytime you can outside the working sessions & outside your home: with friends (native speakers) when meeting out – by buying the newspaper at the local book store – by reading when sitting on your toilet (it is not a joke, i have my piles of books beside mine) – when chatting on linkedin with your professional network- it is fun – enroll in a humanitarian mission – take up a local language class on the evening or a local table of conversation – take a weekend trip to a local foreign capital or your next summer vacation in the country where the language you learn is spoken (try to meet locals when travelling) – try to meet expatriated where you live (both can learn from one another).
Have pleasure, fun and love during the learning process
If you feel or get tired: change activity or way, website or topic – take a break of a few minutes and get some fresh air or a walk, take a deep breath – start again
Stimulate & maintain your learning motivation & endurance by establishing a stable sessions schedule (example above) with a decided time of the day which does not change everyday but remain the same.
Repetition of & focus on the session are the most effective tools allies to learn a language
Do practice a language any time, any where, any way & any reason : it is the key to & the reason we learn !
– Stimulate your Learning Brain – a type of activity which is more advanced (to stimulate the brain to keep on learning further) must finalize the learning session. This is because being confronted with what we still do not manage to do is what will make our brain set up a strategy to achieve the learning goal. most people believe it discourages the brain, but on the contrary, it stimulates it and makes it keep going and maintain the motivation in the learning process.
– Skills to be worked on during the session – listening – reading – vocabulary (lexical acquisition) – writing – speaking
– 5 New Words – are written down (handwritten) in a notebook for every session & every language. The all vocabulary book is reviewed three times a week globally for all languages. On sunday, the 4 hours of work-out are entirely devoted to reviewing & vocabulary learning (in order to take a break from intensive maintained learing, but work-out all the languages anyway)
– Online specially designed course – For less common languages such as Kirundi and Lakhoka, we use certain websites with online courses (free of charge and accessible to all) which are specially designed for learners of these languages and which offer quality online course –
Category 1 – For languages as Russian, English, Norwegian and French
My basic work-out plan includes tasks / activities aimed to improving the entire spectrum of skills in these languages. The point is to work on every and make sure all skills are worked out every single day and in every language on all levels at the same time.
Tools: listening to songs, music, the radio (on the internet), watching documentaries, films and series, participating in active conversations with native or non-native speakers, listening to out-loud read poetry / literature / novels (one can easily find these kinds of audiobooks at the library, on the internet or in any other book stores). An emphasis is constently and preferably put on improving & training reading skills even when working out listening skills, audiobooks are therefore very useful.
Reading for at least 6 minutes decreases your stress level of 70%. By focusing on reading and devoting more time to it, you collaterally reduce your everyday stress, give your memory the chance to be more relaxed and thus work more effectively and improve your psychic health paralelly as well. It is always good to try to work best effectively and work on various level of one-selves at the same time.
Participate as much as possible into active conversations with native or non-native speakers (meet with friends in cafe, ask friends out to a movie, theater play or a concert, to a hike, walk or bicycle tour or to an evening at the local pub to catch up about life – when you dont have any friends available to go out for a drink or a film, go out into the world in public places and area, the playground is a nice place to meet new people or the library or the local training center are perfect places to meet up with new people, people that might have knowledge of languages you wish to work out – basically any place you are and go, even the local healthcare center when you drive your child for his/her usual yearly visit can be a perfect place to meet new people when waiting in the waiting room), sing songs in foreign languages when playing the guitar or another instrument, listen to music and sing along (this especially will enhance and secure the acquisition of the language musicality and music helps a lot to achieve it – this is also worth to remind that a language comes with a cultural heritage, music is a thorough part of it and can help you with history, cultural patterns and artistic knowledge. This is also very useful to acquire new vocabulary and remember them into a given context, which is the most effective way to learn and add more vocabulary to your memory), let’s do it: read aloud literature / poetry or any Press article you work on or read. This especially is a wonderful experience and will make you feel more and more comfortable speaking the language when you start to do it with yourself as the primary listener. It will make you work on pronunciation and work out all skills at the same time. Poetry and literature are also an important quality tool and significant material for acquiring cultural knowledge that a foreign language brings with it. This sets everything into place as far as history is concerned: remember that artists, musicians, song writers and novelists / writers are the first witnesses of their time. You can thus only truly taste history by reading authors in their native languages.
Articulation & Orthophony – Musical & oral warming-up training
Because speaking & learning a foreign language requires to train on pronunciation and work actively on sounds making, sounds that are mostly, if not totally, different from the usual sounds our mouth and vocal system is used to in our native mother tongue, I often advice(d) my students (and I always did in my classrooms when working as en English teacher) to take 5 to 10 minutes (minimum, if you have more time to give to it, take 30 minutes) to exercise the overall muscular area of your mouth with easy, simple and active articulation exercises such as those practiced in orthophony and speach lessons. Exercises such as : 1. opening the mouth several time and moving the lips forward then smiling extensively, 2. moving your lips to the right and then to the left for 10 to 30 times, slow and extensively and then faster, 3. moving your lips forward and then opening your lips and mouth as wide as possible and smiling extensively, then coming back to the initial position are particularly effective to warm-up before an oral practice.
I will post videos later in the day, to show you more clearly these kind of exercices. These exercises can be exagerated extensively, as the point is to relax and train your bucal and oral muscles around your mouth. Do not be scared looking funny or stupid. It is better to train your muscles and look funny than to be not understood by people when orally practicing a languages. You will rapidly see the different and efficiency of these exercises.
-Mouth and lips movements from left to rigth and right to left-
– Mouth and lips forward & backward with extended smile –
– Mouth & lips moving around, clockwise and reverse –
-Final recapitulative exercise with wide opening of the mouth & lips followed by an exagerated smile & lips extended the most forward possible –
Yoga and breathing physical warming-up exercises to increase breathing and oral capacity
Because oral practice requires you to be relaxed and calm to be well performed, it is well adviced to do some simple yoga and breathing relaxation exercises before an oral practice (no matter that the practice is demanding or not). The vocal and breathing system work better when the back is well maintained and that the upper part of your body does not bend forward (a position that reduces your breathing capacity and will thus make your oral practice more difficult and less productive). The posture of your upper body and of your back (when standing or sitting), both must preferably be perfectly upright and straigth – perpendicaular to the ground-, not bending forward and not too bending backwards, is very important. The more your breast area will be open, the more breathing capacity you will have, the more voice and strength in your voice you will be able to show when practicing orally a foreign language. Exercise opening your breast areas with some out and in breathing ex. with your arms. You can do the exercise standing or sitting. You can even practice it with your entire ody, this will oxygen and thus energize your entire body before an oral (or written) practice. Here under you will find several simple and effective exercises to increase breathing and thus oral capacity when speaking (another languages).
Here are two kinds of exercises you can do. One standing and the other one sitting. Both are meants to increase breathing capacity before oral practice of a foreign languages, they open the upper body and breast / breathing area and thus provoke an opening of the entire being (you will be more open to acquire and assimilate new knowledge in the foreign language), they energize the entire body by oxygenating body and mind (especially the standing one is an effective one to energize your body before working and practicing a foreign language or performing any other work), they also induce relaxation of the entire body and mind, which is highly valuable before, during and after work sessions.
– Breathing Standing exercise – to improve breathing capacity – in 4 times –
-Sitting Breathing exercise to open upper body & improve breathing & vocal capacity-
–Shoulders relaxation exercises–
Singing to warm-up your vocal system
You will also gain effectivity by training your voice with simple warming-up exercises one can do when singing, this is mostly to widen and increase the sectrum of sounds you and your voice can produce. You will than be most able to speak the foreign language with ease and confidence, because your mouth, your vocal system and your muscular area around your voice will have been trained in advance. It is particularly usefull to use simple or advance songs (in the foreign languages) that you particularly like to listen to, in order to train your voice to the musicality of the languages. You can train for 5 to 10 to 30 minutes with the chorus of energetic songs that are pleasant and that you like most. This kind of exercise will relaxe you and your voice as well as your mind, before performing a more advanced or demanding oral exercise or verbal task in the foreign language. Youtube is a practical tool to find easy songs in different foreign languages. You can also go to your local library (or the médiathèque) or music store and borrow or buy new cds with music you wish to discover. Most of them I, for example, did it in for Norwegian music, because I wanted to discover new songs and authors, most of which were less known, if not not known at all and I loved it. It is the most effective and enjoyable way to discover local bands and singers. And know the cultural heritage of a foreign language better. Singing is fun, above all. Mixing the pleasant to the usefull is the best way to make a practice both effective and successfull.
Here you can find some sound podcasts & videos with examples of exercises you can practice and songs you can sing to warm-up your voice and vocal system before any oral practice in a foreign language. It is relevant to keep in mind some easy rythmic and funny songs to know by heart and sing before any working session (rpofessional or personal). The point is above all to work and warm-up articulation and train the mouth.
1. Warming-up your voice & oral capacity with simple singing exercises
– Simple Singing Warm-up (note that I am no professional singer) –
2. Perfoming Articulation and Speech exercises & phrases in order to improve your articulation capacity
Examples of Speech / Articulation exercises
Note that these kinds of articulation phrases are very easy to find in any other foreign language and are highly recommanded to practice daily.
You can practice saying them by articulating the most effectively possible. You can also practice saying them as quickly as possible &/or when singing. Or also practice saying them very slowly to exagerate each and every sound and syllable. They are super cool to work with and are meant to be your best friends all along the learning process.
Example in French
“Dis-moi, gros gras grand grain d’orge, quand te dé-gros, gras, grand, grain d’orgeras-tu? Je me dé-gros, gras, grand grain d’orgerai, quand tous les gros, gras, grands, grains d’orge, se dé-gros, gras, grand, grain d’orgeront”
Example in Russian
“Карл у Клары украл кораллы”
2. Singing easy rythmic songs in several foreign languages: The point is to articulate when singing and articulate the most you can, veen by exagerating. The point is to warm-up your entire vocal system and bucal area.
Examples of singing of short rythmic in different foreign languages
Singing in Spanish
Ojos Azules (Cover / Traditional Song from South American)
Singing in French
Ta Petite Flamme (Cover / Amélie Les Crayons)
Articulated Singing in French
Sur le Pont d’Avignon (Cover/Children’s song)
Another nice song to sing & articulate
Ah Les Crocodiles
And another. Because it is fun!
Un éléphant qui se balançait
Singing in Russian
я солдат (Cover/Piatnitsa)
Very nice & useful to train & learn how to articulate!
In Russian (Children’s song)
“Винни Пуха “Если я чешу в затылке – не беда!”
Если я чешу в затылке –
В голове моей опилки,
Да, да, да.
Но хотя там и оплики,
Но кричалки и вопилки,
Сочинию я неплохо иногда.”
-Another Example of an easyfamous song to sing – Children’s Song-
Very nice & fun to sing! With your children?
Singing in English
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Cover/Simon & Garfunkel)
Singing in Norwegian (children’s songs)
Lille Peter Edderkopp (Children’s song)
Ro, Ro Til Siraland! (Cover / Traditional Norwegian Song
Here is a very good exercise to see the difference between a singing not well-articulated and a singing articulated. The first video is quite unarticulated. The second one is articulated. You can easily notice the difference in the strength of the voice and the understanding of the words and sounds. In short: think about articulating when speaking a foreign language as well as your own. More than less is always better!
Unarticulated / Less articulated
Do you see, notice & hear the difference in the vocal capacity & your own understanding between both videos?
So, let’s articulate!
Why Children Songs and why singing when learning a foreign language?
My friends. The answer is quite simple. First, children songs are often extreemly fun to learn & very easy to remember (in case you got to make a lecture in English for your company in front of a wide audience of serious businessmen: singing a few times a children’s song can help you considerably reduce your stress level and this kind of song is very easy to keep in mind & remember to practice just before your lecture/performance, a moment when you might and will surely highly stressed and thus can have sudden loss of memory). Also, because these songs are initially made to teach children how to speak, articulate and assimilate the basis of a language. They are thus perfectly made for you too, who are learning this language from scratch. Finally, this type of songs is very fun to sing and they come along with interesting tips about one’s cultural mindset, particularities and way to think and relate to other people.
So, sing! Alone & / or with friends and relatives, young or older! In any circumstance and for any good reason, and even for no reason at all!
4. Massaging your face and around mouth area in order to facilitate your articulation and oral performance when speaking a foreign language can be a particularly pleasant exercise to do before, after and possibly during an oral practice of a foreign language. This exercise is very easy to do and is meant to relax the entire bucal/oral area. Speaking a foreign language can be scarying and stressfull at the beginning and creates tension and anxiety (both physical and psychological), especially when you are in a starting phase of learning. Massaging your mouth and face can help your body and mind to deal better with the stress engendered by oral practice of a foreign language.
Remember: Learning a Foreign language, although it is a demanding work of dedication, is and must be fun & build bridges between people! Otherwhise, we all miss the point.
Reading is to be prioritized – always!
If you do not have enough time during the day to work on all skills, work on your reading skills first.
Read everything you can, every single minute you have out of a day: grab every book you can, magazines, newspaper, posters, menu: everything. Waiting at the doctor for your regular appointment? Grab a magazine and read. At a cafe waiting for your friend to come back from the toilets? Grab the menu and read. Your iphone is out of battery? Get into the local petrol station and buy a newspaper (take a chat with the waiter/sales assistant at the same time, this won’t bother him to have a client who wants to speak more than just buying some shewing gum). Waiting for your plane, your bus or your train to come to the station? Go and buy the National Geographic at the nearest kiosk. Reading is priceless: this is by far the peak of learning a language.
Press articles and newspaper are by far the best way to keep informed about the world around us, not only nearby but worldwide. Try to prioritize the Press as much as possible online or in paper form. This will keep you best informed about actuality and also make you work on and develop your critical mind about facts. Reading the Press in different languages provides you with comparative analyses, opinions and points of views about the same facts, it tells you about how do different populations and individuals experience one single political event, this will only make you more aware of the world around you and more understanding of other people around you.
Watching films and series (from your own collection, from libraries or from the internet) with subtitles on are a valuable tool in improving your reading skills. I adore watching my favorite series with several different subtitles on. several times with different subtitles each time. Like watching the leftovers with Polish subtitles on and Arabic ones on the same episode the day after. This is the best way to learn colloquial & spoken language forms and it is fun to do. So it adds pleasure to the learning process.
Bloggs are easy and interesting to read. They often provide horizontal understanding for other people of the same age and gives you an overview about how their life is and how they do experience it. Some bloggs are focused on a special thematical subject, others are more general & personal. Some, if not all, bloggs can be free of charge subscribed to and give you the possibility to receive an email with the last post uploaded on one particular blogg. Start blogging to, this will make you practice writing skills in the languages you learn.
Read research work and studies available on the web on other research projects and by research groups. Any research material published by Research groups are worth being read. It is thrilling to read what other people are spending their time researching on and the content / information they can already make available for us. This makes us know more about topics like medications and their effects, about environment protection, about world politics and dynamics, about war and peace dynamics, about the last medical findings and sciences advancements, about law making processes, etc. This makes us make more reflected decisions everyday about subjects that are directly concerning us as individuals. This increase our awareness about almost everything. The internet is a useful tool, use it as much as you can to make smarter decisions everyday. Lots of scientific researches are published in English, making the reading of these documents a good way to practice and improve your English vocabulary.
Translating is a very effective way to work on your reading and writing skills. Because to produce in a written form a translation, one has to be able to read correctly the initial message. Translating is a dual exercice that consist both in acquiring a message and delivering one in another language. You work thus with two languages at a time. As an educated and professional translator, I do practice that exercice quite a lot, primarily in my mind because I live abroad and thus interpret all the time the messages that my brain receive every single minute for any sequence of action in any set and occasions of life. Translating, for any purpose and any language to any other language is a invigorating exercise that I would advice to anyone wanting to work almost all sets of skills at a time.
Read, buy and lend books (novels, poetry, comics, everything you can find is suitable). I do visit the local libraries as much as I can, with or without my child. First because it is a good way to experience readings and books as a social activity and not only an individual ones but also because one can easily open her/his range of interests when borrowing books from libraries which provide often with topics and thematics that could not especially be our own interest at first but which could become an interest. Novels are a beautiful valid heritage of the soul of a language, it provides with elements of history and how a particular population experienced that history, locally and internationally. One can not know Russian without reading Dostoevsky or Solzhenitsyn.
Comics are especially a very nice and funny indicator, communicator and heritage of a culture, partly because it puts a language and its cultural world in a humorous perspective. I loved learning Norwegian by reading comics of TegneHanne and I loved learning my own native language (French) by spending hours reading on the coach reading all of my father’s albums collection of Tintin, Les Schtroumpfs (The Smurfs), Lucky Luck and Spirou.
Chatting with native or not native speakers. Along with improving your overall vocabulary, reading also make you work out your grammar and spelling skills. It does help you concentrate, reduces your stress level and is a calm harbour in an everyday race when you can sit, rest and calm down on a coach.
Writing: research projects (future Phd. project), books and other writing projects, chatting with native or not native speakers, journalistic research, interviews, blogging, email management, profiles (Linkedin) management. Writing is an excellent way to keep tracks of thoughts and experience. As a personal diary, its is gold! You can possibly one day send it to a publisher and make money on it: never throw away your notes and writing, they can be of high value later on in other points of your life. By writing you keep an overview of where you were before at a certain point of life and where you stand now. It helps you understand a lot about oneself, about how you see the world and about others around as well. Writing skills also are fabulous in helping out to restructure your thoughts on your own, naturally. It organizes your thoughts and formulate them. It is also a process that help you to take a certain distance from your thoughts processes and take a break from them if one has a tendency to think to much. Thoughts processes and writing are excellent friends. Along with one’s psychic health. Learn and encourage one self to work altogether. It will enhance your overall mood and life and contact / relationships with others.
Time devoted to learning / day: minimum of 1 focused hour / day (an hour that can be split in several 15 min or 30 sessions if necessary), preferably 2 hours / day, the optimal is to have 3 full hours of focused fully-devoted work / day.
Category 2 – Dutch and Spanish
As I learned these languages for several years, have good practical knowledge and have had long and good practice and good quality education, but still do lack practice and must refresh my skills and knowledge
Listening: songs, music, radio (internet), documentary, films, series, active conversations with native or not native speakers, read poetry / literature
Speaking: active conversations with native or not native speakers, songs, music, aloud reading of literature / poetry
Reading: press articles, films or series with subtitles on, research work on other projects, translating, books (novels, poetry, comics), chatting with native or not native speakers
Writing: research projects, books and writing projects, chatting with native or not native speakers, blogging, email management, profiles (Linkedin) management
Time devoted to learning / day: at least 30 min / day (can be split in several working sessions), preferably 1 hours/ day, the best is to have 1 and a half full hours of work / day / for each language
Category 3 – German and Polish
I only learned these two languages for a very short and limited time and do lack practice and devoted work.
Basic knowledge such as grammar, basic vocabulary and verbal constructions must be revised before starting to go deeper into practicing the language by other means.
Grammar and vocabulary must be prioritized, although all other means of learning can be used too. C.f. 4 basic aspects (speaking, reading, listening and writing) explained above for Category 1. Reading the press and using music and radio are important tools.
Time devoted to learning / day: at least 30 min / day (can be split in several working sessions), preferably 1 hours/ day, the best is to have 1 and a half full hours of work / day / for each language
Category 4 – Arabic & Hebrew
I only start from scratch for these two languages so, it means that the main and real work is yet to be done. I have to keep in mind to be tolerant and patient and certainly to develop my interest rather than pressuring myself to get better.
For these two languages:
Alphabet and letters (writing and pronunciation of letters and sounds – emphasize on verbal practice and repeating sounds)
Basic pronunciations – aloud reading
Starting/introduction/greetings expressions and words,
Youtube basic learning video tools & pronunciation exercise (outloud reading)
Practice writing (manually)
Radio and music (songs and cultural material preferably)
Basic grammar and basic vocabulary
Time devoted to learning / day: at least 30 min / day (can be split in several working sessions), preferably 1 hours/ day, the best is to have 1 and a half full hours of work / day / for each language
Learning a language is a living and long process. Basically, it is a process of a life-time. It is not only and all about learning words or grammar, its is about learning how and why other people think, speak and live sometimes differently than we do. It is about finding humanity in ourselves and other people and looking for common points between us and these people. It is about learning history and sometimes totally different but very rich cultural worlds. It is about starting a process that will probably bring you far ahead than where you stand now. It is about meeting other human beings with their entire identity, life, environment and history. With their beliefs, their faith, their ways to see the world and expectations of what this world can or could be. It is about learning from writers and reading them in their native language. It is about being less focused on ourselves and more on other humans around us. It is about learning from and teaching to. It is about learning that our world is diverse and multicultural. It is about developing new pattern to think, learn, write and reflect.
And possibly one day, be able to reflect along altogether.
About how we can make this world we live in a better place for everyone.
And that’s in fact where the all story begins.
Learning Method – 2
I made up my personal checking list in order to organize my training plan
Checking List – Personal Language Training Plan
Task to perform each training day of the week for one or 2 particular foreign languages
- Listened to the radio in the foreign language
- Listened to audio books / teaching videos (youtube) / audio material
- Listened to music in the language (so for example on Polish Day, I listen only to classical or Polish music)
- Read the press / newspaper (paper version or on the internet)
- Read book / literature / novels / comics
- Speak with natives / non-natives
- Text / Book / written redaction / practice
- Outloud Reading
- Talking with friends in their native language(s)
- Looked up 5 words in the dictionary
- Wrote these 5 words, learned their spelling and dictate them
- Memorized these 5 words’ meaning
- Blog work in the foreign language
- Enjoy the process
At the end of the day, the optimal is to have done and crossed the 12 items of the above list so that each competence is worked out.
The idea behind the check list is to create an immersion environment which awakens the interest of the learner and facilitate the acquisition of the language skills and further / deeper knowledge in a particular skills area.
The idea is also to avoid to put ourselves under any unbearable pressure and to make the learning process as pleasant, real and present as possible. Therefore, do we try to emphasize on frequency of work-outs rather than on longer amount of time dedicated to a work-out. Repetition and frequency are often more effective for us than a longer work-out. Our mind can hardly ever focus deeply more than 50 at a time (at least for us particularly).
And a truth that has quite worked for us is that when you struggle with learning a foreign language, instead of trying and trying and not getting anywhere, start to learn another/additional one and the learning of the previous one will get better, easier and more efficient. (c.f. principle of delay of gratification in cognitive psychology)
– Subtitles –
The rule is also, for example to watch any movie or film with subtitles on in the language of the day. As I usually watch the film or series into the original languages (I am a fierce defender of original versions and against doubling versions), I therefore put the subtitles on the particular languages of the day. It means that i happen to watch Sex & the City or the Left-Overs with Polish subtitles on. This is a very good way to train your reading skills together with simultaneous translation and to acquire new vocabulary.
Test your knowledge of the language with free online test (aim: acquire new vocabulary and assessment of where you are in the language). It is actually often more fun than one would think it is. Because it is quite surprising how one can understand a language very well, eventhough grammar and vocabulary are sometimes need to be worked out.
Repeat and read orally outloud every you do and read in the foreign language. Outloud reading gives you the opportunity to practice prononciation as often as possible. you train your reading, speaking and listening skills, because you correct yourself automatically when reading outloud.
– Focus on your Interests –
When choosing a material you are going to use and work on for a particular language, a good advice when learning a foreign language is doing so with things, subjects and material you like or are particularly interested in. For example, I like music, theater & painting, I will definitely selct a press article on one of these subject for my day article. It gets easier and more interesting to improve skills & vocuabulary when working with things that interest you. However, working on subjects & interest you are not used to work with and about things you are not primary acquainted with can also awaken your curiosity and therefore be of great value. So in short, both are useful tools.
– Practice Cross Culture –
An effective way to work on several languages at a time is to practice cross culture and build cultural bridges. The idea is, for example, to watch a ‘news’ video in Dutch about an event that has taken place in Poland and speak about the content in French afterwards. By doing so, you work on two and maybe even 3 or more different languages at the same time. This exercise/method makes you improve your translation skills & abilities and increases your vocabulary, as well as your general knowledge of the country, culture & language. It creates lot of connections in your brain and mind, connections which are cognitively highly important in everyday life. The same is true for example when you help a Spanish-speaking friend from South America to translate her CV from Norwegian to English. The all process, along with being a ‘selfless’ action, makes you practice 3 foreign languages at a time: guys, this is Gold for your brain! Do it! A very fun game I play with my child (who has a French-speaking mother, a Russian-speaking father and is in a Norwegian daycare ) is that if I read him a book in French, we speak about the story afterwards in Norwegian and pick some words that we can learn parallelly in Russian. My child has started to ask me to watch cartoons in English now. I am not surprised. It was meant to happen! It’s fantastic to witness a early age multilingual learning process!
-Read The Newspaper daily in order to enhance your vocabulary-
The Monde Diplomatique is available in almost all languages. This is therefore a good & reliable as well as independent newspaper worth to use often because you can read one article in several different languages and improve your vocabulary quite fast with having one particular topic in focus at a time. It also provides objective independent insights which are both politically and religiously independent.
Here is a list (non exhaustive) of newspapers you can find online in all languages I personally practice and learn weekly.
Le Monde Diplomatique (www.monde-diplomatique.fr/), Le Soir (www.lesoir.be), Le Monde (www.lemonde.fr), Le Vif/L’Express (www.levif.be), Le Nouvel Observateur (www.nouvelobs.com)
BBC (www.bbc.com), The Economist (www.economist.com), The Guardian (www.theguardian.com), The Times (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/), The New-York Times (www.nytimes.com), The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com), the National Geographic (www.nationalgeographic.com), The Observer (www.theguardian.com/observer)
Novaia Gazeta (www.novayagazeta.ru), Izvestia (www.iz.ru), Nezavisimaia Gazeta (www.ng.ru), Rossiskaia Gazeta (www.rg.ru), Kommersant (www.kommersant.ru), Vedomosti (www.vedomosti.ru), Russkaia Pravda (www.pravda.ru)
Nrk (www.nrk.no), Aftenposten (www.aftenposten.no), Ny Tid (www.nytid.no), Bergens Tidende (www.bt.no), DagBladet (www.dagbladet.no)
El Pais (www.elpais.com), ABC (www.abc.es), La Razon (www.larazon.es), La Vanguardia (www.lavanguardia.com), El Mundo (www.elmundo.es)
Het Nieuwsblad (www.nieuwsblad.be), De Standaard (www.standaard.be), De Telegraaf (www.telegraaf.nl)
Die Zeit (www.zeit.de)
Al-Arab (www.alarab.co.uk), Asharq Alawsat (www.aawsat.com), Aljazeera (www.aljazeera.com)
Haaretz (www.haaretz.co.il), Calcalist (www.calcalist.co.il)
-Interactive Tutorial on the web-
A great and fantastic numbers of websites are wisely and intelligently made by professional and are freely accessible online in order to test, improve and adjust your skills and knowledge in all of your languages.
Examples of such online is Babbel: http://www.babbel.com
They can be of fun & pleasant help and provide you with a break from more fastidious learning methods such as serious reading of books, the press and grammar learning which can once in a while be seen as demanding. Although, personally, I love particularly hard work. But for those who need a bit of excitement and change in their learning journey, online testing and languages games available on these sites can be of truly excellent help.
-Your 5 new Words you got to learn weekly-
It would be a bit underestimating the amount of vocabulary I learn every week, to only mention 5 words. Indeed, my rule is that for each foreign language I learn, I allow myself to write down and keep in a notebook 5 words that I had no knowledge of previously before the weekly learning session of one particular language. It actually means that I have 50 words in total (5 words for every language I learn, given that I am actively learning 10 languages, it makes the amount of new vocabulary to 50 words/week) to keep somewhere and learn every week. The words can be picked from any learning material, from the newspapers to a YouTube Tedtalk or to a word I pick up from a novel. These words are kept on several notebooks that I keep available and which I review and study twice a week (usually on Wednesday and on Sunday). It is a very good way to practice writing by hand (given that most of the time, we mostly use the keyboard of our computer instead of a pen and a sheet of paper), to get away from the screen of our computer and to enrich the number of words in each foreign language. Learning to write by hand is particularly useful for languages such as Arabic, Hebrew and Russian (when we started to learn Russian at the university we all started from scratch, so we had to learn to write like small children on two lines notebooks, this was a very intense and interesting process, because the cyrillic alphabet is completely different than the latin one).
-Tutorial Videos available online-
For languages I am learning from scratch (such as Arabic and Hebrew for which I dont have an written books material home), tutorials on YouTube and elsewhere online are of great help. I particularly like self-made videos recorded by local native speakers/teachers who give lots of advices about pronunciation and give insights about cultural particularities and intelligent tips. I particularly enjoyed using tutorials when I started to learn Arabic and afterwards Hebrew. Most of them use also subtitles with written support to their verbal teaching. This makes the learning very helpful and effective, because they help you to combine oral and written learning all at once. They are also very personal and individual. These tutorials are also possible to be listened to on your phone via YouTube or simply the internet, which makes it very easy to fit into your everyday busy schedule, that we all have. You can have your learning session in any waiting room or in your car, while driving home after a full-packed day. The concept makes you spare time.
Russian: Radio Svoboda – https://www.svoboda.org/live/audio/81
Hebrew: 103FM – https://103fm.maariv.co.il/pages/page.aspx?cntrVQ=FEI