Tag Archives: practice

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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Speaking Spanish in Spain

By Jacob Birsen

I spent the majority of my senior year in high school saving up money  to go spend a portion of my summer with my best friend in Spain. For two years, I had been dreaming of visiting her and taking in another country’s culture.  I had taken three years of Spanish in high school and I was finally ready to try out my Spanish in a real world environment.

However, on my first day in Barcelona, I realized that Catalan, not Spanish, was the primary language spoken. The ones who spoke Spanish primarily spoke it at a pace that was too fast for me to understand, so I wasn’t as vocal with the locals as I could have been. Towards the middle of my trip we were scheduled to go visit my friend’s extended family who lived about an hour outside of Barcelona. My lack of Catalan took me from very exciting to this portion of the trip to very nervous. Many of her older family members only spoke Catalan, and the few that did speak Spanish were always speaking in Catalan so it didn’t make a difference. When we arrived at the house of my friend’s grandparents, I was lost. I sat myself down on the couch and was basically waiting for it all to be over. I stayed this way for at least half an hour, completely intimidated by locals speaking a language I couldn’t understand.  Some of the adults tried to speak to me, and although I responded in Spanish, they grew bored of my limited vocabulary and went back to speaking with the main group once again.

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How to Practice English During Summer Vacation

By Zsuzsa Londe, Ph.D. 

Students ask this question at the end of our spring semester classes.  It is a good idea to plan to do something every day to maintain or improve your English skills. If you did not have the option to take an ALI class this summer, here are a couple of suggestions that are interesting in content and will improve your oral skills.

1. NPR (National Public Radio) is a nationwide radio station with about 900 stations in the United States.  Go to www.npr.org or to www.kcrw.com, the websites of the national and the local (LA) radio stations respectively, and listen to the broadcasts, find in-depth reporting on the latest events, and read the transcripts of the reports.  While you are getting the most up-to-date information from around the world, you are also “updating” your English. Continue reading How to Practice English During Summer Vacation