Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.Walt Whitman
The leaves are changing color, the weather is cooling, and pumpkin spice lattes are back at Starbucks (YUCK). That can only mean one thing: it's time to cozy up with a cup of coffee and start (or restart) your journey to becoming fluent in a foreign language. Here are six activities to boost your language learning this season.
1. Go on an “Autumn Word Walk”
One of the best ways to learn vocabulary in a foreign language is by immersing yourself in the language as much as possible. A great way to immerse yourself in the vocabulary of the season is to go on an “autumn word walk.” This is simply taking a stroll outdoors and noticing all the autumn-related words and phrases you see along the way—in-store windows, on signs, etc. Not only will this get you out of the house for some fresh air, but you'll be building your vocabulary at the same time!
Once you have your list, try to use each word in a sentence. This is a great way to review vocabulary and get some creative writing practice simultaneously.
Autumn Items List in French
des feuilles / leaves
l'arbre / tree
amasser / to pick up
marcher / to walk
l'air frais / fresh air
la boue / mud
les gouttes de pluie / raindrops
un parapluie / umbrella
manteau / coat
écharpe / scarf
des bottes / boots
un manteau / coat
un chapeau / hat
des gants / gloves
du chocolat chaud / hot chocolate
une soupe / soup
un râteau / rake
Autumn Items List in Italian
le foglie / leaves
l'albero / tree
raccogliere / to pick up
camminare / to walk
aria fresca / fresh air
la melma / mud
gocce di pioggia / raindrops
un ombrello / umbrella
cappotto / coat
sciarpa / scarf
stivali / boots
un cappotto / coat
un cappello / hat
guanti / gloves
cioccolata calda / hot chocolate
una zuppa / soup
una foglia / rake
Autumn Items List in Spanish
las hojas / leaves
el árbol / tree
recoger / to pick up
caminar / to walk
aire fresco / fresh air
el barro / mud
gotas de lluvia / raindrops
un paraguas / umbrella
abrigo / coat
bufanda / scarf
botas / boots
un abrigo / coat
un sombrero / hat
guantes / gloves
chocolate caliente / hot chocolate
una sopa / soup
una pala / rake
Autumn Items List in German
die Blätter / leaves
der Baum / tree
aufheben / to pick up
spazieren gehen / to walk
frische Luft / fresh air
der Schlamm / mud
Regentropfen / raindrops
ein Regenschirm / umbrella
ein Mantel / coat
ein Schal / scarf
Stiefel / boots
ein Mantel / coat
ein Hut / hat
Handschuhe / gloves
Heiße Schokolade / hot chocolate
eine Suppe / soup
eine Harke / rake
Forvo is an excellent website for finding native pronunciations of words and phrases. You can search for any word or phrase and then listen to how a native speaker pronounces it. This is an excellent resource for learning the correct pronunciation of difficult words and phrases.
2. Watch a Foreign Film
Fall is the perfect time to snuggle up with a blanket, popcorn, and a good movie. And what better way to learn a new language than watching a film in that language? You can find foreign films with English subtitles relatively easily these days. Or, if you're feeling brave, try watching a film without any subtitles at all. You might be surprised at how much you can understand!
Some of my favorite foreign films are:
- “Amélie” (France) (also known as Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain; English: The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain)
- “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (China)(Traditional: 臥虎藏龍 Simplified: 卧虎藏龙 Mandarin: Wò hǔ cáng lóng)
- “Breathless” (France)
- “La Dolce Vita” (Italy) (lit: The Sweet Life)
- “Run Lola Run” (Germany)(German: Lola rennt; lit. “Lola Runs”)
- “Pan's Labyrinth” (Spain)(Spanish: El laberinto del fauno)
- “Les Triplettes de Belleville” (France) (translation: The Triplets of Belleville)
- “Paris je t'aime” (France) (translation: Paris, I love you.)
Chomet also animated and directed Stromae's “Carmen” video.
- “Matador” (Spain) (translation: bullfighter)
- “Y Tú Mamá Tambien” (México) (English translation: “And Your Mom Too”.)
- “Amores Perros” (México) (lit. dogs loves; however, perro(a)/s in Spanish is slang for bad, so this title roughly translates to “Bad Loves”)
- “AKIRA” (Japan) (あきら, アキラ)
- L'Auberge Espagnole (lit. the Spanish inn.)
The film is called Pot Luck in the UK and The Spanish Apartment in Australia. This is the first movie in a trilogy.
Movies by Language
There are so many great foreign films out there that it would be impossible to list them all. But these are just a few of my favorites that would be great for language learners. If you have any favorite foreign films, please share them in the comments!
If you’re a beginner, try watching shows with subtitles in your target language. You can gradually start watching shows without subtitles as you get more comfortable.
3. Make a New Recipe
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in a new language is to cook a meal from that culture. Not only will you learn some new words and phrases, but you'll also get to enjoy a delicious meal! Do some research and find a recipe that looks both tasty and doable. Then, head to the grocery store and get cooking.
You'll learn about the ingredients and cooking methods used in that cuisine and get some practice reading and following a recipe in your target language. Bon appétit!
Are you looking to improve your language skills while also learning to cook delicious new dishes? Check out the following websites where you can learn how to cook recipes in another language:
Comedera – Spanish (Latin America)
Giallo Zafferano – Italian
Cookpad is a great one. You can choose by region and language. They have a fantastic community that shares recipes and tips from home cooks worldwide.
Here's what's available:
- El Salvador
- Estados Unidos
- Costa Rica
- República Dominicana
- Puerto Rico
- السعودية (Saudi Arabia)
- الكويت (Kuwait)
- قطر (Qatar)
- البحرين (Bahrain)
- عمان (Amman)
- الإمارات العربيّة المتّحدة (United Arab Emirates)
- اليمن (Yemen)
- جيبوتي (Djibouti)
- الصومال (Somalia)
- جزر القمر (Comoros/Comoros Islands)
- مصر (Egypt)
- السودان (Sudan)
- الجزائر (Algeria)
- ليبيا (Libya)
- تونس (Tunisia)
- المغرب (Morocco)
- موريتانيا (Mauritania)
- لبنان (Lebanon)
- سوريا (Syria)
- الأردن (Jordan)
- العراق (Iraq)
- فلسطين (Palestine)
繁體中文 (Traditional Chinese)
- 臺灣 (Taiwan)
- 대한민국 (Republic of Korea)
- ایران (Iran)
- Magyarország (Hungary)
- Україна (Ukraine)
- Česko (Croatia)
- Ελλάδα (Greece)
- Российская Федерация (Russian Federation)
- 日本 (Japan)
4. Read an eBook or Magazine in Your Target Language
One last activity perfect for this time of year is snuggling up with a good book…in translation! If you’re not ready to tackle reading an entire book in another language just yet, no problem – plenty of short stories and poems are perfect for beginners. Or, if you’re feeling extra ambitious, why not try reading one of your favorite books in translation? Seeing your favorite characters portrayed differently in another culture can be fascinating (and slightly surreal). Whichever route you choose, reading is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a foreign language and build up your fluency skills.
France-Amérique is one of my favorite dual language magazines. They have a great selection of articles in both French and English, so you can read along in your target language and check your understanding with simultaneous translation. You can find them on Readly.
Notable Mention: Bien dire
Beelinguapp is an audiobook app that can help you improve your language skills while you’re on the go. They have a great selection of audiobooks in various languages, so you can find one that matches your level and interests. Listening to audiobooks is a great way to improve your listening comprehension and pronunciation skills.
Check out Scribd! They offer a free trial period, and it's $8.99/month afterward. You get unlimited access to their entire eBook catalog, which includes books in several languages.
Selected Short Stories (Dual-Language) on Scribd (Buy Now)
103 Great Poems: A Dual-Language Book (German) on Scribd (Buy Now)
First Spanish Reader: A Beginner's Dual-Language Book on Scribd (Buy Now)
Italian Stories: A Dual-Language Book on Scribd (Buy Now)
Russian Stories: A Dual-Language Book on Scribd (Buy Now)
Amazon also has a ton of great eBooks in various languages that you can buy outright or borrow for free if you have Amazon Prime.
Books for French Language Learners
Books for Spanish Language Learners
Books for Brazilian Portuguese Language Learners
Books for German Language Learners
Books for Russian Language Learners
Books for Japanese Language Learners
Books for Mandarin Chinese Language Learners
Books for Greek Language Learners
Books for Thai Language Learners
5. Take an Online Language Class
Of course, one of the best – and most effective – ways to boost your language skills is to take a language class. Online classes are a great option if you’re short on time or can’t commit to attending in-person classes. And with so many different online courses available, it’s easy to find one that fits your learning style, schedule, and goals.
Language training offered by Babbel is a great way to learn a new language or brush up on your skills. Their classes are interactive and engaging, and you can tailor your learning experience to match your level and interests. You can even take classes on the go with their mobile app.
6. Create a Language Learning Playlist
This one is more fun than it is productive, but creating a playlist of songs in your target language can be a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and get a taste of the music scene. It’s also a great way to familiarize yourself with the sound of the language and pick up some new vocabulary.
Not sure where to start? Check out Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” feature, which creates a personalized playlist of new music for you every week based on your listening history. You can also browse Spotify’s extensive collection of foreign-language playlists grouped by language and genre.
Looking for something new to listen to? Check out the City Charts playlist on Apple Music. This playlist features popular songs from cities worldwide, including Accra, Barcelona, and Copenhagen. The Daily 100 is a series of country-specific playlists, each consisting of that nation's top 100 songs. You'll not only be able to hone your target language, but you'll also get a behind-the-scenes look at popular culture.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced language learner, I hope these activities give you some ideas for ways to boost your language skills this season.
These are just a few ideas to get you started on your journey to fluency this fall season. As you can see, many fun and creative ways to learn a new language exist. Whatever method you choose—or whether you combine several—the most important thing is that you stay consistent with your studies and have fun doing it!
If you have any other ideas for boosting your language learning this fall, let me know in the comments below!
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