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English language Resources

Learning Language Through Reading, Writing, and Music

When you were a child, you most likely became quite good at using your native language before you went to school. You were simply immersed in language and learned by listening and using. You can use the same approach in expanding your language skills in your native language or in learning a new language. This article makes a few suggestions about how to do that.

Reading

Reading is one of the best ways to experience how a language is used. It is best to start with something that is in relatively plain language about a subject that interests you. This might be the sports or entertainment sections of a newspaper, or perhaps books or magazines on a subject that you are interested in. If you have a favourite novel, perhaps you can find a translation of the book in the language you are learning. Whether you are reading in your native language or learning a new language, observing how others use language can help with your use of language. Keep a dictionary handy and lookup words as needed.

Writing

The more you use language, the easier and better it gets. Writing daily in a journal is a good idea for many reasons. You can write whatever you want without worrying about anyone reading it. You might also try writing in the new language that you are learning. You can use a dictionary to help find the words that express what you are feeling and thinking. The main thing is to focus on being expressive without worrying about being grammatically perfect. Perfection will evolve with practice. Writing letters to a friend or pen pal can also help. The process of simply expressing ideas and feelings in words on a regular basis can help expand your language skills. Understanding what your friend writes and paying attention to the use of language will help your use of language. Again, a dictionary can help.

Music

In many ways, music is a universal language. People are often moved and engaged by music, even if the lyrics are in a foreign language. Try finding an artist that sings in a style that you enjoy and spend some time with the lyrics. Here are some things that you can try:

  • Listen to the music and pay attention to how it makes you feel. This will give you a clue to what is being communicated in the song.
  • Try interpreting the song lyrics verse by verse. The meaning and connotation may be subtle. Some lyrics are simply silly.
  • Try singing the song in the singer's language. Professional singers sometimes do this without really knowing the language.
  • Try translating the song to another language.
  • Try sing the song by alternating the verses in each language.

Community

One of the advantages of studying a subject in school is that there can be opportunities to simply talk about things of mutual interest in the cafeteria, lounge, or at someone's kitchen table. Even if you are not at school, see if you can find friends to chat about subjects of mutual interest. Chances are fairly good that there are discussion groups online that you can participate in. Look for groups that show genuine sharing and respect.

Have Fun Exploring!

Subject keywords: language writing reading music practice