How to study a foreign language using electronic media

If you are studying a foreign language or would like to, consider the various ways you can use film to make your studying more interesting. Here are some suggestions. DVDs often come with original language and dubbed language choices, as well as a choice of subtitle languages (and some have cloze-captioning for the hard of hearing options). If you’re studying French, for example, you could get a French-language film that has subtitles in English, and match the English text with the French dialogue. You may also be able to program the DVD for French subtitling as well. Having two channels of communication delivering similar information helps one re-inforce the other. The dubbing won’t be – word-for-word -- the same as the subtitling, but that, in fact is still helpful, since you’ll learn two ways of expressing the same thing. These simple “mix and match” choices can help you with vocabulary, comprehension, colloquial expressions, and hear how a “real” foreign language is spoken—which is far different from the expressions you learn in textbooks.

You can also use audio “books” for language learning. For example, you can download an audiobook from a commercial source as well as get free downloads from the electronic collection of your local library. There is often a default to select “language” so you can find audio material for many different languages. One free source “Libravox” had recordings in a few dozen languages. You can read along with the audio if you have a printed version of the same book, and some audio players allow you to vary the speed of the playback so that if the speaker is going a bit too fast, you can set your portable player (or computer) to 4/5ths normal speed.

Actually, simply trying out some of these methods should help you develop your own ideas on how to use electronic sources for language learning. It definitely is an improvement over the traditional “language labs.”

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