Helpful Tips on Increasing your Language SkillsThis page has been kindly contributed by our Languages Prefect, Mary Heath, a keen linguist who offered to share her passion for languages with these useful hints and tips for language learning. In this section we give you some general tips on how to increase your language skills, as well as some useful web based resources if you are learning French, Spanish, German or Mandarin.
General tips on learning languages:
- Little and often is far better than trying to do more all at once. Don’t expect languages to improve over night - it takes time.
- Try and contribute as much as possible in lessons. This is one of the main opportunities you’ll have to practise your languages.
- Don’t worry about making mistakes – no one is perfect and you do learn a lot from mistakes.
- Do something with languages that you are interested in. You could listen to a song in a foreign language or cook something from that country. Learning languages isn’t just about reading from a text book.
- Don’t think that everyone speaks English, as this is not true. Learning a language is not just about speaking it but it is also key to being able to understand another culture.
- Have fun!
Useful Resources if you are learning French:
Reading online French Newspapers:
General Resources to help with French:
http://www.lirecreer.org/ - Site with short stories, French songs and poems. Suitable for yr 9+.
http://french.about.com/index.htm?terms=french – lots of useful links to grammar exercises, vocabulary, listening practice. Suitable for all years.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/french/ - a good site particularly useful for younger years.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/french/news/ - a French audio magazine aimed at AS/A2 students. Less complicated than listening to the news.
Increase your French skills through these fun sites:
http://french.about.com/cs/francophonie/a/tonguetwisters.htm - everyone can enjoy these tongue twisters.
http://www.twinning.org.uk/tongue_twisters.htm - more French tongue twisters.
Useful Resources if you are learning Spanish:
Watching / listening to Spanish news; the following news sites are particularly helpful:
Useful Resources if you are learning German:
Watching / listening to German news: the following news sites are particularly helpful:
General web resource to help with learning German:
http://german.about.com/library/blworttag.htm - German word of the day.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/german/ - useful website.
Useful Resources if you are Learning Mandarin
Useful Resources for All Languages:
http://www.mikesradioworld.com/ - links to online radio from all over the world.
http://www.wordreference.com/ - for English<>French, English<>Spanish, English<>Italian.
http://dict.tu-chemnitz.de/ - a really good English<>German dictionary. Highly recommended.
http://londres.cervantes.es/Portada_22_1.htm - Spanish
http://www.institut-francais.org.uk/index.php - French
http://www.goethe.de/ins/gb/lon/enindex.htm - German
The institutes are open to members of the public. Each institutes has its own library, which anyone can visit, although only members can take books out. The institutes are also worth visiting, to find out if there are any special events going on in London.
Reading Foreign literature:
- Reading foreign literature can be extremely rewarding and is strongly advised particularly to the older students.
- It can help to improve vocabulary and also widen appreciation of the culture.
- Remember that you do not have to look up every word that you do not understand; this would take far too long. It is possible to undertsand what is happening without knowing what every word means.
Where can I obtain foreign literature?
Don’t forget that there is a foreign language section to the school library. There are lots of books in French, German, and Spanish ranging from classics to twentieth century works.
There are also foreign language bookshops in London:
Grant and Cutler – http://www.grantandcutler.com/ stocks many world languages, with particular strengths in French and Spanish. The German section is also good. They sell books, films, grammar workbooks, exercise books, dictionaries.
European Bookshop – http://www.europeanbookshop.com/ very good French section. The German and Spanish sections are smaller significantly smaller than the French section, but are still quite comprehensive.
Foyles - http://www.foyles.co.uk/foyles/index.asp
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