FX's essential guide to learning a language
Intermediate learning

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Once you've started learning your language and you've mastered the basic structures and at least 1000 words, you can begin to read. Indeed, you must read, and read authentic material, not texts you find in your textbook.  Reading will challenge your knowledge, increase your vocabulary and make you want to learn more. And you'll know precisely where you are in the learning of this language, at least from the passive side (reading/understanding).

Finding something to read or listen to

Once you're started in the language, you need some stimulation, that is, you need to create some situations in which you want to use the language. It's easy for many language. Buy books, read newspapers, watch TV, go to the movies, listen to the radio, all of this in your foreign language. If you can, try to meet people from the target country. Well, as most readers of the internet now are Americans, and most Americans want to learn spanish, let's assume you want to learn spanish. There are so many resources in spanish that your problem becomes one of choice. And the mere fact that you read this is proof that you have some basic knowledge of the internet. Did you know that you can listen to Colombian and Paraguayan radio on the internet ?


Reading in a foreign language

So, now that you have some material in your target language, you need the right approach. If it's written, find a part (for example an article of El Financiero) that interests you, and begin to read it. Everytime you find a word you don't understand, write it down on a blank flash card and look it up in the dictionary. You can miss some words if there are too many but if you look them up and don't write them, you can bet your grandmother that the next time they show up in the text you will have to search them again. And while you're at it, you can bet your grandfather that they will show up again. This is a strange law, but useful when you think about it : words you find in an article have a tendency to be used again in the same article, or book. And it's also true for newspapers. Once you've looked up and written words like event, occured, investigation, president, declared, etc... , you can read most newspaper articles. But remember that you have to write them unless you want to look them up every time. I can tell you as at first I did not write them, and these words have the nasty habit of coming to your mind after you looked them up for the second time "Aaaah now I remember what it meant"-too late. So if already you made the effort of looking them up, write them. And remember to use flash cards, because they are so superior and much more convenient to use once you started. If you make a list you will maybe look at it a couple of times and then forget it.


Don't worry about grammar, it's not a thing to be learned before, but after. First read a lot, and when you will hear spanish phrases in your head under the shower, then you can open the grammar book again and see if it's more meaningful.

At the same time you should go on with your method (books and tapes), working regularly. Toward the end of the method, you should be at the advanced learning stage, topic of the next page.

Languages | Definitions | FX Micheloud's homepage