A few weeks ago I wrote a post suggesting a few tips to practice a foreign language daily.
That post was mainly focused on building vocabulary and learning new words. But mastering a language involves many other abilities.
One of them is reading.
When you are at a beginner or intermediate level, this is quite a difficult ability to practice because texts are either too difficult or too basic. Reading newspaper articles or books can sometimes be challenging, while exercise texts on workbooks are utterly boring – most of the times.
What to do then?
I have a few suggestions for you. As for the tips regarding vocabulary building, they are intended to be easy activities to be incorporated in your daily life. Nothing too difficult, nothing too time-consuming. Just very simple activities to practice a foreign language daily – hassle free.
1. Change the language of your phone.
Nowadays, we are constantly using our phones. We use them for every kind of task, from messaging to checking our facebook profile to paying bills. So why don’t use them to practice your language skills as well? Go to your phone settings and switch the language to the one you are willing to learn. By doing so, you will use it daily without even realizing it. If you are brave enough, consider choosing a foreign language for the apps you download too.
Let me tell you, most of the actions you perform on your phone are repetitive ones, so simply changing the language of your phone won’t make you run the risk of doing much harm. Just don’t do like I did a while ago, when I thought it was cool to try and change my phone language into Arabic – I really had to sweat to switch it back to Italian.
2. Change the language of the operating system of your PC
As with your phone, the PC is quite probably something you use a lot every day. Changing the language of the operating system and of the programs you use is again a very helpful way to practice your reading skills. It may be difficult at the beginning, but it is a very fast way of acquiring and understanding the meaning of new words.
The same can be done for a lot of other things that are part of your daily life. You can change the settings of your TV/DVD maybe. Or you can try and read instructions for appliances in the language you want to learn, for example. There are a lot of ways to practice a language this way – I am sure you will come up with other ideas if you think about it.
3. Use your passion
Having to do something you do not exactly like is not fun, I know very well. Sometimes you have to learn a language, but you’d rather do something more fun – it seems impossible to me, but I understand. If you struggle with finding the motivation to study and practice the language you have to improve, just think about something you really like. Something like music, or movies, or cooking, or yoga – whatever makes you happy and willing to spend hours doing it. Then use it to improve your language skills.
Let me give you an example. When I was young, I was mad for The Smiths (uhm, I still am, to be honest). I used to spend hours laying on my bed, with the records on, and a book containing all the lyrics. Reading the lyrics of the songs I loved so much helped me improve my English skills a great deal. Thanks to The Smiths, I learned what a double-decker bus was and I learned useful words like banister, cradle, or parachute. Singing along also helped me improve my pronunciation.
This is just an example of how you can use something you really like to improve your reading skills. If you like movies, you can try reading subtitles in the language you are learning, if cooking is something you really love, you can look for recipes. My husband, for example, loves finance and trading and uses this passion for improving his English skills as well.
By the way, what is your passion? If you let me know, maybe we can come up with ideas to improve your language skills by using it!
If you are interested in improving your Italian language skills, I’d suggest you check Chiacchieriamo, your way of chatting with an Italian without moving from home.
Chiacchieriamo is a Skype chat which helps you practice and improve your Italian with a native speaker. If you want to give it a try, you can request a 30-minute free chat, so that we can meet each other and see if you like the service.