Passive Listening and Language Learning

instant-immersion-french-audio-cdWe know that, if you want to speak a language fluently, you must learn its sounds and imitate them. When you take lessons or learn on your own, you practice these things. There is something additional that you can do; it’s called passive listening. Some say that passive listening is a significant boost to your foreign language learning process that may improve your education noticeably. This is up for debate. However, what passive listening can help you with is acclimating to sounds as you practice your active listening and study.

Passive Listening as a Learning Aid

There are those who say that you can learn a language through passive listening only. Many also believe this is highly unlikely. It is arguable, however, that passive listening may serve as a beneficial learning aid, secondary to active learning. For example, as you learn a new language, particularly early in your efforts, the foreign words may sound like gibberish in a recognizable accent. Hearing the sounds as often as possible, even when you’re not really paying active attention, may still affect your most basic understanding of what you’re hearing. Though you may not comprehend what you’re hearing in the beginning, you adjust to the accent and sounds become more recognizable. The more you hear in general, the better off your pronunciation and recognition will be.

How to Go About Passive Listening

Another great thing about practicing this method is that it can be done at so many times and in so many ways. As you drive to work, you could listen to foreign music in the language that you are learning. You could have that music on when you work, or any other time. You may also listen to audio learning CDs; you don’t necessarily have to actively repeat what you hear or engage with the lesson—just let it play. You can play a film and watch it without subtitles, or have it on as you do other things, and just listen to the actors speak.

There is a myriad of ways to go about passive listening as part of your larger lesson plans. We have what you need. We have music, audio lessons, films, and more. Visit our website today.

Great Foreign Films

There are simply too many great films in languages other than English to count. This is good news, however, for any cinephile, student, or generally bilingual or multilingual person. Here are just a few recommendations:

Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince)

This French tale by Antoine de Saint-­Exupéry has been translated into most languages and is loved by many children, and adults. Recently, and much to the delight of many, it was made into a feature film. As a young girl is prepared for life by her mother, she meets the Aviator, who shows her an amazing world that he experienced with the help of the Little Prince. It’s a journey many have taken and will enjoy taking again in this beautiful film.

Nirgendwo in Afrika (Nowhere in Africa)

In this film, a Jewish family emigrates from Germany to Africa just prior to WWII as anti-Jewish sentiment grows. They arrive in Kenya and start a farm. Life and the war continue, bringing drama, struggles, and love. This dramatic film was awarded Best Foreign Language Film at the 75th Academy Awards.

Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate)comoaguabig

This romantic story is both dramatic and amusing. Tita, a young Mexican girl, falls in love with Pedro, but they cannot marry because, traditionally, Tita’s older sister must marry and Tita must live to care for their mother. As she pines for Pedro and other events—both happy and unfortunate—occur throughout her life, Tita finds the only true way to express her emotions is through her cooking, which has some unforeseen and amusing consequences. Based upon a popular novel, this film is lovely and romantic, though it should be noted that it is also rated R.

Want more foreign movies? Visit World of Reading online and see what we have to offer or email us for specific recommendations, especially if the film must be appropriate for the classroom.

Creative Methods for Teaching a Foreign Language

Whether you’re a full-time teacher, a substitute, or a parent teaching at home, sometimes your students need a little push to learn. Topics may need to be made more interesting for a specific demographic, or they just need to feel a little more relevant to the students’ life. Foreign language lessons are no different. Most teachers are fully capable of being creative and coming up with ways to shake up a language lesson and here are just a couple of suggestions to help inspire.

  • Character Creation

Audience: Young Children

In this activity, children are asked to create a character. It can be anything their little minds may come up with—a human person, an animal, an imaginary creature, and beyond. To create this character, they must draw it and give it an accompanying written and spoken description and back story. For children, these descriptions do not have to be complex. It can be as simply as drawing the character—or, perhaps tracing parts and creating paper figurines, or something equally interesting and creative—and labeling the parts in the appropriate language, and telling a little about the character in a few short, simple sentences. This is an inventive way for them to practice their vocabulary.

  • Scene Reenactmentle-petit-prince

Audience: High School (and Older)

Most students love films, so a great way to get them interested and challenge their comprehension is to turn them into actors. Have them choose a film in their native language or one they have seen in the foreign language, especially if you have seen one recently during class. Then, ask them to pick a scene from that film of a certain length. Their assignment will be to perform the scene in the language being taught. If someone has a strong fear of performance, then the lesson can be adjusted and they can write the scene’s script in the appropriate language. By choosing their own film—within reason, of course—they have some freedom to express themselves, and the language becomes part of their interests.

The possibilities are almost endless; teachers can do so much with language when given the freedom to transform their classes and lessons. For teaching a foreign language materials and aids, and all sorts of extras for creative lesson-making, visit World of Reading online.

Being Bilingual Boosts the Brain

parisdvdbig1Many people function intelligently and healthily knowing only their native language. However, research and studies have long suggested that being bilingual is a strong benefit for a growing person’s brain health, as well as a person’s cultural experiences. Functioning in two languages—or more—is exercise for the mind that helps maintain its health.

The Education Benefits

Utilizing a language requires both hemispheres of the human brain; it calls for both logical and analytical thinking, and emotional and creative thinking. Those who learn as adults may take a more rational approach to comprehension, while a long-time bilingual individual—someone who learned at a young age—may have more a stronger grasp of social concepts. Studies have also shown that bilingual people may also speak better in general, leaving out unnecessary words and phrases and speaking more clearly.

The Brain Boost

Either way, the brain’s cognitive function is heightened. It has even been suggested that bi and multilingual brains have more gray matter. Speaking, reading, and writing in more than one language increases brain activity. This is mental exercise, and these workouts—like most other healthy activities—can prevent and delay certain problems, such as Alzheimer’s and related diseases.

These studies and ideas do not mean that someone with thorough knowledge of multiple languages is necessarily more intelligent than anyone else; it simply means that, in addition to the fun and cultural pluses of being multi or bilingual, there are potentially significant mental health benefits for those who work to become so. Ultimately, it is all about working toward a healthier brain.

If you are working toward becoming bilingual, visit World of Reading online. We have all that you need to pursue multi language education, whether for yourself, your students, or for your children. We have literature, textbooks, DVDs, audio, and much more. Come start your mental workout today.

When Children Learn Multiple Languages

french-bilingual-baby-dvd-and-flashcafrdsIt is something that most of us already know—learning a foreign language at a very young age improves cognitive development and more. However, the U.S. has not yet begun to match its foreign counterparts in terms of language education. If parents want their children to benefit from that schooling, they must often take matters into their own hands at home.

When Children Learn

Research shows that when children learn multiple languages as early as possible—even around the age of three or earlier—may have improved intellectual skills throughout their future education. It is argued that teaching foreign language concepts alongside standard early education, even to infants at home, is the best way to begin a child’s schooling.

The idea is partially based in the fact that a human is best able to mimic sounds as child; as a person grows and develops the ability to speak the native language, it becomes more difficult to mimic the sounds of a foreign one. In addition to having an easier time, studies have shown that when children learn multiple languages it benefits critical thinking skills, and both creative and logical thought. Over time, data has shown that students who acquired more than one language early on perform better in educational testing.

You do not have to wait for a school to teach your child language skills and doing so does not mean a major expense. Most parents may begin teaching the native language at home; all you need to do is add another language to the daily activities you do with your child. Almost any toy, activity, DVD, or book you bring into your child’s life can be found in a foreign language. That’s where World of Reading comes in.

We offer all you need to supplement your child’s language education at home. Children’s literature, educational tools, DVDs, audio CDs, and more from our World of Reading online shop can help you with this endeavor.

To Read is to Learn

If you want to learn a new language, your first instinct may be to reach for the audio learning software. This is not a bad decision, particularly if you want to communicate verbally in that language and you are an auditory learner. However, what if you are a visual learner?

Reading is equally as important. Fully understanding the words and being able to communicate, and understand others’ communications via any type of written content make reading essential. So, here is some advice for learning to read as you absorb your chosen second language.

There’s no shame in starting simple.

chenilleBIGYou do not have to pick up the classics of French when you start learning. Let those be goals for you. Instead, pick up translations of your childhood favorites, such as Dr. Seuss, or Eric Carle.  See how those familiar tales look in a foreign language, and see what you know so well in a different linguistic light. Or, choose children’s classics that originated in the language you’re learning, such as Le Petit Prince. Read blurbs, blogs, or even mere titles. Remember, there is no rush; take your time and enjoy the process of learning. You’ll be reading the more dense materials sooner than you think.

Invest in a portable dictionary.

You don’t have to buy a giant hardback book. You can have a little paperback, or, thanks to modern mobile technology, you can have all that’s in a large dictionary on your phone or tablet. Choose whatever is more convenient for you and take a study approach to reading. Be ready to encounter a word you don’t know and look it up. This is taking advantage of the fact that reading in a foreign language is one of the best ways to improve your vocabulary. If you take the time to look up each unfamiliar word you come across, you’ll remember them that much better.

Read aloud to yourself, or to others.

When you read, you use specific parts of your brain. When you speak, you use some others. When you do both at the same time, your brain is working even more, and you retain information even better. You hear the words and improve your verbal pronunciation, while simultaneously bettering your vocabulary and ability to make connections between the words. If you’re too shy to do so around others, find time for yourself. If you have children, read to them and let them learn with you.

Come get all the things you need to learn a new language at World of Reading. Then watch, listen, read, and learn, and give yourself all that knowing a second language has to offer.

To Learn a Language

talktalkspanbigMany of us want to learn a different language at some point, and there are plenty of ways to go about it. There are also many ways to make it easier and motivate you. Here are some tips for language learning.

Have a Larger Goal

Sure, simply having a desire to learn a language is a good reason, but it helps if you have more than that. Having a more tangible goal serves as motivation; it means to have a certain amount of time in which to learn, and a reason to keep it up. The reason could be anything—you could have a trip planned, someone with whom you want to communicate, or even a small, personal goal like a novel you want to read in the original language. The more reasons you have to learn, the faster you may do so. A deadline helps maintain your focus and determination, as well.

Practice, Practice

Talk Now Brazilian PortugueseThe only way to learn a language is to practice, and while books, audio, and DVDs are essentials, so are other speakers. Join a group of people with whom to learn, or find someone who already speaks the language to have conversations with you. If you cannot find someone already in your life, go online. Not only can you pay to have online chats and video conferencing for tutoring, there are people who will do it for free; plenty of people around the world also want to learn your native language. So, remember to step away from the books and practice.  Look for a restaurant where the employees speak the language, if possible.  Consulates might have ideas on where to find native speakers, as well.  You might find someone who needs to practice their English—spend half of the time speaking English and half of the time speaking the language you want to learn.

Don’t Be Shy

Opening up and practicing can be challenging. You may feel insecure about whether you are pronouncing things properly and that insecurity is enough to prevent some people from speaking at all. Don’t let it stand in your way; if you pronounce it wrong, you will only get it right eventually if you try again. Also, everyone has to start somewhere and anyone to whom you may speak has probably make similar mistakes—it’s never as embarrassing as it seems.

When it comes to learning a language, we’ve got you covered with the essentials. Visit our website at WOR.com, get your materials, and then find a friend and start learning!

Classic Foreign Language Books for Your List

Have you made your summer reading list? Are you preparing for the next semester’s language course? We have what you need at World of Reading, and we have some suggestions for works of literature that are well worth devouring this summer. Check out these classics works of foreign language literature.

L’Assommoir by Émile Zola: As part of a lengthy series of novels, in which many characters appear more than once, this novel is generally considered one Zola’s best. It is a 19th century work of realism, focusing on the Parisian working class, and a woman named Gervaise Macquart, in particular. Though watching Gervaise go from happiness and potential prosperity, to pain and difficult times makes it a rather serious read, it is a well-crafted and artful portrait of an interesting time in history, and fascinating people.

Don Quijote de la ManchaEl ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha (or Don Quijote de la Mancha) by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: Arguably, few people have never heard of Don Quijote (also known as Don Quixote), the Man of La Mancha. This classic has been translated into most languages. It is the story of a gentle, reasonable man whose mind is distorted by the reading of too many fantastical books about chivalry. He begins imitating what he reads, becoming his own version of an adventurous knight. The famous moment between Quijote and the windmill, among many others, makes this a must-read for anyone.

Die Leiden des jungen Werthers by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Goethe wrote this classic when he was only 24 years old, and it remains one of his most well-known works. This novel—considered somewhat autobiographical—is in epistolary form. It tells the story of Werther, a young artist, who is hopelessly in love with a girl, even though the girl is already engaged to someone else. This intensity of this emotional love story has made it a favorite since its publication in 1774.

Whether you want to read the classics, are required to read the classics, or you want to find something fun to read in your chosen foreign language, we can help you at World of Reading. Visit us today to find out about these great books and more.

Watch More Foreign Films

Most of the time, there is a small, specific group of people who enjoy watching foreign films. Even fewer enjoy watching them with subtitles, or free of dubbing and subtitles completely. This is an unfortunate thing, because there is much to be gained, beyond entertainment, from watching foreign films.

Cultural Experience

Cultures besides your own express things in different ways. They choose varying characters from those to which you’re accustomed, have unique tales to tell, and tell those stories differently. In some cases, their culture and history may be the origin of a certain type of character or storytelling. By avoiding foreign films, you’re missing out on opportunities for new and original experiences you simply won’t get from films in your native language, and from your native culture.

Nuance

La famille Belier dvdPerhaps you do watch foreign films, but you insist on watching those without subtitles. If that’s the case, you are still missing out. Dubbing removes the nuances of acting and storytelling found in tone and inflection. You miss how an actor naturally and originally expresses something in the moment, and instead hear a basic interpretation that is more focused on translation than emotion.

Education

Finally, watching a foreign film engages your mind and improves your language learning skills. If you have experience in a second language, watching a film is a fun way to exercise your knowledge. If you’re learning a language, you can step away from the textbooks for a while and enjoy learning a little differently. If you have no second language experience at all, you can still learn a great deal by watching, listening, and reading. Over time, you may find you understand enough to turn off those subtitles and experience the film as it was meant to be seen and heard.

Come visit World of Reading online, and check out our selection of foreign films. We love language, and have all you need to experience foreign languages on film, in literature, and much more.

Business and Language

It is not easy to find a job. Even those with the most “relevant” education can still struggle. Most leaders in business agree that there are a few things you can do to make yourself more attractive to a potential employer, and one of those things is learning a foreign language well enough to speak, read, and right at an intermediate or fluent level. Whether you want to find a new job or move upward in your current one, language can be of help.

Foreign Business

Many companies do business with foreign companies. They may have branches in other countries, or simply the need to communicate with people in those places. Knowing the language of a country with which a company does business automatically makes you more useful, potentially. Even if your chosen job or company does not yet require the use of another language, having it readily available means your employer has the option, which is attractive in an employee.

Useful Languages

Almost any language could be useful, but some are more so, according to many business owners. Mandarin-Chinese, for example, is particularly beneficial. It is a notoriously difficult language to learn, and so not a common one for language-learners to choose on their own. However, China is a significant part of the global economy, and communicating with the country is essential for many businesses. Thus, this is significant motivation for job-seekers to learn it. Spanish is another useful second language in the U.S., particularly for the southern states. Spanish-speaking people make up a noticeable percentage of the population, and bilingual employees are always encouraged to apply for positions.

There are plenty of reasons to learn a new language—your career is one of many. At World of Reading, we have learning materials, DVDs, and much more to help you learn and develop your language skills, whatever your reason for learning.