The University of Georgia offers classes in more than 30 spoken world languages to students. Those looking to become multilingual might consider taking one of these courses, but those already studying a language at UGA know that it’s essential to commit to the language outside of the classroom. The Red & Black has compiled a list of out-of-class methods and manners for you to boost your language skills, so you can take your skills gained in your Spanish minor with you for life.
Listen to a podcast or two
If you haven’t been introduced to the world of podcasting, let this be your sign to start listening. Apple Podcasts and Spotify hold dozens of podcasts for language-learners at every level; listening to these also gives you the opportunity to improve your speaking skills. The Coffee Break series offers lessons for all speaking levels in French, Spanish, German, Italian and Chinese.News in Slow podcasts take excerpts from news broadcasts in other languages, slows them down and provides the vocabulary necessary to understand the information you’re absorbing. If you want a longer, more comprehensive list of podcasts, simply type “language podcasts” into Spotify or your podcast app.
For those studying romance languages: attend a 'table' group
Open to all levels of language-speakers, conversation groups — or language “tables”— meet campus-wide to host a weekly discussion group. During these sessions, groups talk solely in the specified language, allowing participants to improve their speaking skills. The Department of Romance Languages outlines a list of tables here, with sessions held in Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Catalan.
Use a dictionary — not an online translator.
“One of the biggest impediments to learning a language are all the tools that we have online which make it very easy to translate things with a click of a mouse,” Paola De Santo, an assistant professor of Italian at UGA, said. “It ends up impeding your learning. You’re short-circuiting all of the processes that are necessary for learning a language.”
Instead, De Santo recommends that you try to work through reading — copywriting difficult sentences in the original language and using a dictionary to translate unknown words — rather than taking the easy way out.
Interact with with the different forms of media
De Santo teaches with materials “in Italian that Italians use for themselves,” telling students that trying to understand the materials and writing out sentences in their own words — but still in the native language — pays the best dividends when learning. This allows students to think in the same grammar structures as native speakers. Plus, there are many acclaimed foreign language films on Netflix and other streaming services: check out Netflix’s “Roma” (in Spanish), “Train to Busan” (in Korean), “Paris is Us” (in French) and many more.