Q: HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY FLUENCY WITH A SECOND LANGUAGE?
Recently, a member of this community asked about how to improve his fluency with a foreign language.
He mentioned that he’d been trying to learn for the past 30 years, but only recently started making more progress with the app Yabla because it was visual and didn’t rely on audio alone.
Yabla is an interactive video approach to foreign language learning that provides two channels of captions that can be shown or hidden and TV shows, music videos, documentaries, and interviews.
A: I can see how Yabla can help with improving speed of listening. The videos provide context and the scenes may make the dialogues more memorable than if they were read in a book or done through audiotapes. For people who have trouble remembering vocabulary, I’ve heard that Memrise with its system of mnemonics can be helpful.
But for becoming more fluent with back and forth foreign language, especially in a business context, it would probably be more valuable to study and practice a course that deals with business vocabulary and back and forth conversation with a tutor. Just google “business” and the language you’re interested in for options.
Now if you think you need more practice with listening comprehension in the second language, you might also look into playing video with a caption delay.
For instance, in the video on the next page, it shows how activating delayed captioning can give more more practice with listening comprehension because you hear a sentence, then see the caption 2 seconds later. The example is given for learning English, but you choose a foreign language dubbed movie for foreign language practice. The VLC recorder is a free download.
In fact, there are many ways to get practice with foreign language using captions. FluentU has a nice article on this HERE.
For those who have a good basic command of vocabulary, but need practice with back-and-forth conversation, then an online tutor through a site like italki, preply, or others may be able to help get your conversation onto the next level.
It is common for dyslexics of any age to have some difficulty with rapid automatic naming or RAN and this challenge can be even greater when working with a foreign language, so real-time practice with retrieving words and sentences in conversation is necessary for fluent speaking.
Preview prospective tutors’ videos before choosing one and consider doing a trial session. Some tutor accents may be difficult to understand and the video and sound quality may vary a great deal.
For teens and young adults who have a basic proficiency, sometimes comics and or children’s books can be used as a base for lessons instead of a conventional text.
Another source for immersive foreign language is purchasing a VPN or Virtual Private Network to watch and listen to programs in the target language.
I am not familiar with all the different VPN services, but they are reviewed by PC magazine HERE. The cost can be under $5 a month and my understanding is that it can allow you to watch online shows and movies as if you were in another country.
Watching children’s shows may be a good place to start for beginners because the pronunciation tends to be clear and speech slower.
To learn more about foreign language learning and VPNs as well as other approaches, check out this article HERE. Happy learning!