Reviving your languages skills


Reviving language skillsMany people are like me and have latent language skills in other languages. They are languages they used to speak, were their mother tongue which they have since let go, are languages they have learned at school or maybe while they were studying, working or holidaying in another country. We are in a good time for reviving those skills and it has benefits because you increase your communication base in a global village and connected world and you then increase your knowledge. I have been motivated to revive my Spanish skills because of Instagram. A number of people who follow me or whom I follow are Spanish speaking and it’s nice to see what they are doing and saying and I want to be able to say things to them. Languages really build connections. Like the Glaswegian in the video I learned Spanish in a 12 week course at university. We had two hours of grammar and vocabulary, two hours in the language laboratory and then one hour of an oral practice tutorial. In the second part of the course we were ready to read our first novel and then a play. In the third part we looked at Spanish speaking newspapers and Spanish speaking culture in Spanish. It was intense, demanding and highly effective language instruction. Now we have the internet. We have web 3.0. I don’t need to go back to the beginning. I need to wake up my latent knowledge so it has been an interesting experience trying to work out a course of action which is right for me. So what have I done?

I have looked at things on the net and assessed my skills. I can read well for understanding, I can write with a lot of looking up and checking, my grammar is very rusty, I recognise vocabulary but I am not recalling it that well, I can’t talk it very well at all and I can listen to simpler things and understand them easily. I now know my learning gaps.

So how am I going to address them in the internet age?

  • I am using Twitter and Instagram because I can read things in Spanish which are not very long and I can easily work out what they mean. I am tweeting one Spanish tweet a day. It’s not a big, demanding task. I can do this. It brings back my knowledge of vocab and expression.
  • I am watching You Tube clips like the one on this post. Having subtitles is good. Having a pdf of the oral text is good.
  • I am using an authentic Spanish podcast. There are a number of people now who do authentic language podcasts. They are very effective at using the language in such a way that you understand it. They speak more slowly. They explain aspects of language but also just talk to you about things and so you are reinforcing your understanding of a language in a very natural way.
  • I am looking at videos of grammar points as I feel like it.
  • I am about to look to see if there are apps at my level. I know there are plenty of beginner apps. I shall see if there are ones for intermediate learners.
  • There are Spanish intermediate YouTube clips where someone explains in Spanish different things like the family, a holiday and it is all supported with visuals and so you learn effectively and naturally.

For me it comes down to listening a lot, reading and then doing my own practice in my own way. It is all coming back to me now! It was interesting that the Glaswegian had a similar story to mine. maybe it is a Scottish thing. He actually was more motivated to learn and improve his German because he had family in Germany he wanted to speak to. I had a German aunt and then a German cousin who married into the family. I spent a lot of time with my aunt and we just spoke German. I wanted to learn German to speak to my cousin because I really liked her. Like Xander Lusk I then just started learning Spanish because I could and the literature was very moving and meaningful. It is only now that I am finding a communication need for my Spanish.


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