Works on: Listening, Writing, Learning New Words
Effectiveness: 10/10 Fun Factor: 4/10
As you get better in your new language, you will start to know a lot of words. You may even reach a point where you understand most of the material, but still don’t know hundreds of words in the content you are watching. That’s because your brain has now become quite skilled at making connections and understanding the general message without understanding every single word. It can sometimes feel like you’ve reached a plateau. Unfortunately, words used only occasionally can be very difficult to learn through repetition. Luckily, there’s a very effective way to learn those subtle words using movies and television.
In previous posts, we talked about using movie subtitles to your advantage when learning a new language. But what about writing the subtitles yourself? (Wait… what?). This does require a considerable amount of effort on your part, but the benefits are well worth it. We are all about fun language-learning activities, but sometimes doing a bit of extra work is so effective that it’s worth giving a try, even if it’s not as fun as popping plastic bubble wrap (apparently not very effective).
Here’s what you can do: choose a 60 to 90-second segment you like. Listen to that segment and do your best to write down the dialogue you hear. This can be done with short scenes, song lyrics and short sections of audio books. Pause and rewind the short segment as much as you need to. This is challenging and a high level of focus is required. Once you are done writing the dialogue to the best of your abilities, compare what you wrote to the real book, lyrics or subtitles.
In a previous post, we also talked about the 4 levels of movies for language learning. Use these levels for this activity as well. It will be much easier to create subtitles for “Sesame Street” than for something full of complicated expressions. It is also important to have a set up where it will be easy for you to pause and rewind very often. Doing this activity on a desk or table with a computer works very well.
Meet Julia Jenga. Julia is trying to learn Spanish. She’s having a hard time because she heard the phrase “pero me equivoqué” , but she has no idea what it means or how to write it. She doesn’t even know how many words are contained within the phrase. But instead of ignoring it, she first wrote “pero me qui boque“, then “pero me equibo que” and eventually found the phrase in Google. That’s when she discovered the phrase was actually 3 words instead of 4 and that it means “but I was wrong” . This made sense within the scene she was watching. After doing this exercise, the word “equivoqué” jumps out every time she hears it in other situations and she never forgot it.
Now you may think that this is a difficult way to learn new words, but every word learned this way is sure to stay with you because you are actively connected to them. Occasional words can be very difficult to learn from repetition because they are only mentioned a few times in the whole movie. But writing down the entire dialogue of short segments can be a very effective way to learn these subtle words. If you are looking to make significant improvements to your listening skills quickly, or if you ever feel like you are reaching a plateau, do this exercise on a regular basis. It is very effective.
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it with your friends by using one the social links below. For more language-learning activities, check out our website at Ouino.com. Thanks a lot! Until next time!
Fair Use: All rights to their respective owners. Some images used under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for educational purposes. Sesame Street graphics created by JoniGodoy and taken from deviantart.com.
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