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Improving your foreign language skills without purchasing expensive software!

Have you taken a full year or two of a foreign language, and wish to have an enjoyable way to increase, improve, and expand your vocabulary and comprehension of the language in 'real' life? Here is an easy and rewarding way to do so. First, let's figure what you usually 'need' for foreign language study: material in the language you're studying; a way to look up or translate unfamiliar words and expressions; a program that provides 'thematic' content, like 'a trip to the mall,' 'a visit to the beach,' or 'preparing a party.' But wait a minute! Are those 'learning units' really interesting? They don't do much for me. But here's an idea worth trying. Look for a complete season of a TV show or mini-series that is available on DVD, AND comes with BOTH subtitles and dubbing in the language you're studying. You can easily get that information from the product page. Then rent the DVDs. You might even buy them and it would be less money that the software programs that cost in the hundreds of dollars. Suppose you are learning French or Spanish, and you find a series on DVD (there are usually 13 to 26 episodes per season, or if it is a one-time mini-series, maybe six to ten hours of programming. Next, you can watch the series in your native language (say it's English). Then you can program your DVD player a number of ways: you can keep the dialogue in English, with foreign language subtitles. You can program the DVD to play the show dubbed in the foreign language you're studying AND add the same foreign language subtitles. That way, you can hear the dialogue and read the subtitles with each 'channel' of communication reinforcing the other. The fun thing about this method is that the dubbing will be different from the subtitles. You shouldn't expect the subtitle people to match the dubbing. There are too many variables. But what will happen is that you will get two versions in your foreign language of choice that are expressing the same things. In other words, you'll be learning two different ways to express the same thing. If you get a bit lost, you can always retrieve your remote, and change back to English dialogue and the foreign language dubbing. You might even be able to program the show for foreign language dubbing with English subtitles. Regardless, this gives you lots of ways to develop comprehension skills. And on top of that, you get to watch a favorite TV series and not feel like your just putting off studying. Because...you are studying. If you're studying with a friend, you can even make up your own questions about the show in English or the foreign language you're studying, and test each other.