Tag Archives: language

Supplementing Language Learning

By Caroline Donat

When young children learn languages, they are also learning about how the world around them functions. Everything is new and exciting so learning is fun. When learning a language as an adult however, we often experience more frustrations with the learning process. We know what we want to say but struggle to express it properly. Though we can use the social and occupational skills we have gained in adulthood, bringing back the fresh newness we experience as children can help us with our language acquisition.

International students at USC already face daily immersion into American life. Since this immersion can be shocking, it is hard to resist an opportunity for the comfort of speaking to another international student in your first language. This is okay and perhaps necessary to stay motivated to conduct the majority of the day in English. These small comforts do not need to be sacrificed in order to improve one’s fluency.

If we want to accelerate our language-learning however, we need to take our learning beyond the classroom and literally translate aspects of our daily life. This means carrying out our normal behavior in another language with the openness we had as children, by reading the foreign text on our breakfast food packaging or watching a late-night soap opera (perhaps with the help of subtitles). I say “we” because, even though I am a native English speaker, I am currently looking for ways to obtain fluency in Arabic and Spanish. There is always more that we can do to promote our learning. While we will never find the time to do everything, there are some tricks that we can work into our schedules without rearranging other commitments and priorities.

Newspapers are a great way to not only improve your English (or other language) skills, but to keep up with the local culture. Depending on your free time and interests, you can choose to browse sections about fashion and upcoming performances, or dip into today’s politics. Either way, you will have something to talk about with other English speakers. The best part is that you can fit this reading into your schedule by inserting it during meals, while riding the bus, or waiting for class to start. You can sign up for LA Times to be delivered to your home, download a news app, or pick up a free local newspaper from the boxes on the sidewalk.

Also, listening to music in your new language is an easy way to enhance your learning. iTunes, Apple Music, and YouTube are all popular, but most students prefer Spotify because of all of the songs you can listen to for free. Sign in with your USC email to gain access to your free account! On Spotify, you can view the top songs in the U.S. (and many other countries) or find new music similar to songs that you already like. If you like listening to acoustic indie music, try some Ed Sheeran songs. If you would like to try out RnB, search for music by Miguel. You do not need to pay attention to the lyrics, simply surrounding yourself with the words of your new language can help your comprehension and pronunciation.

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Growing Up Bi-Dialectal and Bi-Accented

By Aishwarya Badanidiyoor

They say language is one of the quickest ways to establish personal connections. Having grown up in multiple countries, adapting to new environments was always a priority of mine, and that meant picking up on the (sometimes subtle) differences in communication between the widely varied cultures and societies that I came across. To give you a little background, I lived in Saudi Arabia for the first ten years of my life, and then moved to India for the rest of middle school. I went to high school in Canada, and then attended Engineering school in India. Currently a master’s student and conversation partner here at USC, I have had the opportunity to meet quite a few international students along the way, and one thing that some of us have in common is our ability to speak multiple dialects/accents of English fluently, due to our diverse upbringing.

I grew up speaking a very neutral Indian accent for the first 9 years of my life, due to my stay in Saudi Arabia. Many people are not aware of this, but Indian accents come in varying flavors, which is why when I moved to India for middle school, my classmates and I had trouble understanding each other for the first few months. When I moved to Canada for high school 4 years later, the differences in accents, phrases, word usage, and intonation (amongst many other things) were quite obvious. Within a few months, my little brother and I had already adapted a neutral general North American accent, garnished with a few of the more obvious characteristics of Canadian English.

Once I moved to a different part of India for Engineering school there was a accent divide between me and my classmates once again. Within the year however, I had molded my tongue into sounding more local without much hassle. This brought about some new challenges for me – I regularly conversed with my Canadian friends in my north american accent, and switched to the new Indian one with my Indian friends.

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Finding my Roots in Guadalajara, Mexico

By Haley Sydney Sanchez

Last summer I had the opportunity to visit my family in Guadalajara, Mexico. I had been there a few times before when I was younger, but unfortunately I do not remember much from those trips. This time, we stayed at my aunt’s house on the outskirts of the city. I was excited to see my large extended family and to revisit the beautiful city with more mature eyes. The trip was given to me by my wonderful abuelos (grandparents in Spanish) who wanted to bring me back to my cultural roots.

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Me with my family

It was an unbelievable trip. The city was full of people and happiness radiated throughout. Vendors had cold ice cream (perfect for those hot summer days) and the markets teamed with the most vibrant fruit that had been picked earlier that day. The architecture of the city is mainly neoclassical with influences from indigenous contributions and later modern European influences. The city has beautiful churches, markets, plazas, and theaters, in one of which, the Teatro Degollado,  I got to see my uncle perform.  He plays the classical piano and, on this occasion, he played with a Russian violinist.

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My uncle at the piano

In the big Mexican cities, houses are wall to wall with each other and, more often than not, do not have backyards. Because the people tend to be very cramped, the city makes up for it with a lot of parks around the city with basketball hoops, slides, and jungle gyms.

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