Fun Strategy for Quickly Improving Language Skills

Learning a foreign (or new) language is not easy. I share a strategy developed from my obsession with improving my proficiency in French. It’s so simple, yet effective, that you’ll wonder why you never thought of it before! Career persons in paid employment, with interest in language learning, will find this strategy useful.

What Is This Strategy?

It’s the habit of deliberately watching movies subtitled in the language you want to learn.

But you must choose, as often as possible, movies you have already watched in a language you know.

If you do it right, you will dramatically boost your comprehension, spoken fluency and vocabulary!

Watching Movies Subtitled in French, Can Help You Learn to Speak Faster & Better

By better I mean you be able to speak it so well that competent others assume you’re a native speaker!

I touched on this in my Proven 5 Step Formula for Learning ANY Language In 3 Months or Less.

Since 1999 I’ve been obsessed with the French language. Over the years I noticed a trend.

Whenever native French speakers talked to me, I struggled to comprehend. But with Francophone Africans (e.g Beninese or Camerounian friends or acquaintances), I readily understood what they said.

When I speak to Francophone Africans, my English accent sometimes get in the way too!

I once wanted to buy a small bottle of medical alcohol. Instead of saying “alcool” (pronounced “ahl-call), I pronounced it “al-co-hol” – with the “h” sound very audible, as in English.

It took my explaining many uses of the item, before the lady understood. She then pointedly told me I’d pronounced it wrongly!

This is Why Some Foreign English Drama Series/Comedies Don’t “Click” With Nigerians

In the same way, a full blooded Briton, visiting Nigeria for the first time, might struggle to understand people speaking English with a local accent (e.g Ijebu, Egba, or Efik etc).

Seven years working with English, Welsh,Irish and Scottish expatriates, while employed in Guinness Nigeria, opened my eyes to this reality.

I found deliberately watching British/American movies helped me better comprehend what they said. Especially getting used to their speed. Over time I learnt to make myself better understood by them.

This inability to comprehend the speech/conversational mannerisims, of British and American speakers, is why some high profile sitcom/drama series from those parts, don’t “click” with Nigerians.

Moumouni Toure, a friend in Calavi, works with a boss who is from France, but runs a chain of mobile phone shops in Benin. Each time I’ve had to converse with the boss, it’s been hard making out his words. And vice versa. Most times we have to take turns explaining ourselves in the other person’s preferred language to ensure s/he fully comprehends what they other is sayng!

Moumouni on the other had does not suffer the same handicap – for obious reasons. You see, he speaks and understands both languages reasonably well.

By Watching Movies Subtitled in French, You’ll Pick Up Useful Words, and Expressions for Everyday Conversation

Whenever I want to take a break from my crazily choked work schedule, I don’t just laze around.

Usually I get myself a big bowl of Cassava flour (known locally as Gari), to which I add sugar and plenty of groundnuts. Then I sit back and watch (on my laptop) movies subtitled in French.

Like I said earlier, I choose those I’ve watched in English before. And usually, I’m familiar with many of the lines. So, it’s always a thrill to be able to hear those same lines said in French.

More importantly, you pick up some useful smart phrases you can easily put to use.

One example: Ils ont disparu (They disappeared).

Another: Ne bouge pas! (Don’t move!)

It Can Help You Continue Improving Even Without Formal Textbooks or Lessons!

Dale Carnegie noted that learning a foreign language, is similar to learning public speaking: you don’t make progressive improvements.

Quite often, your progress will come in fits and starts. There will be times when you’ll arrive at a “plateau”, where you don’t  seem to be improving.

Then you’ll have a sudded growth spurt, and wonder at how you manage to progress so much.

The key is to NEVER stop working to improve – even during the “plateau” phase.

Especially then!

If you stop, you’ll end up retrogressing.

One good way I’ve found is to leave textbooks aside, and watch people making real-life conversation. I encounter useful words and expressions, said by a native (not Francophone) French speaker.

Final Words: Try It and See!

This strategy really works – and it can be applied in other ways too.

For instance, some months back I gave out rating forms to tasters of my pineapple peel based drink. In explaning what I wanted, I said “Je voudrais demander votre point du vu” (“I would like to have your opinion”) …about the drink.

A friend exclaimed “Ah Tayo, your French is really improving!

That expression was used by a radio presenter, some days earlier. I simply adapted it for my purposes.

You too can improve your language skills by doing a similar thing, with movies and TV/radio shows

And you’d be having fun at the same time!

NB: The above may not readily apply to Nigerian Nollywood (or African) movies subtitled in French.

[IMPORTANT: This blog's contents are being updated following the transfer to www.tayosolagbade.com from my former domain - Spontaneousdevelopment.com. As a result, some parts of it may not work properly for now. Quick Tip: If a link contains "spontaneousdevelopment.com", simply change it to "tayosolagbade.com" - and it should work. This applies to article links as well as image links. Work continues to update the links(in over 500 articles). Tayo K. Solagbade.]

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