Language learning tip: Using Newspapers and Radio

One of the best study tips I heard while learning Dutch, was to read newspapers and listen to the radio. It struck me as being a fairly dull tip when I first heard it, and admittedly, some news sources can be quite dry – however, if you select the right material, it can be a fantastic way to boost your language studies.

Keeping In Touch With The Culture
If you don’t have the opportunity to visit or live in another country while studying the language, reading newspapers and listening to radio is an excellent alternative. It allows you to effortlessly keep in touch with current events, and cultural news.

I feel that a large part of learning a language, and speaking it well, is understanding the culture as well. A perfect example of this would be the English habit of apologizing for literally everything, versus the Dutch mentality of apologizing only if absolutely necessary. It’s a small detail, but it makes a big difference in the speaker’s fluency. Radio and newspaper outlets allow a small glimpse into this mindset, and can prove to be an excellent learning tool.

If newspapers aren’t your thing, you might consider special interest blogs. There’s something out there for everyone, and you’re bound to find something that will peak your interest.

Radio and Podcasts
There are plenty of excellent websites online that will allow you to start listening to either local radio stations, or foreign language podcasts. Both of these are excellent resources. When I was learning Spanish in high school, I would let a Spanish radio station play in the background while browsing the internet, and I found it really helped to get be accustomed to the sound of the language and how a lot of the words were pronounced.

The radio station I preferred had a very cheerful host, which made it a lot more fun to listen to. In that regard, I’d highly recommend choosing something that appeals to your interests; be that music, news stations, or one of the many podcasts that cover a wide range of topics.

Translating Newspaper Articles
For those students who are on a more advanced level, and are looking for a challenge, I recommend finding a newspaper written in the language you’re studying, and to translate one of the articles into English.

This is not the most exhilarating exercise by any means, but it is a fantastic way to challenge and improve your language skills, especially if you’re looking to be able to use your language in a business setting. Doing this not only improves spelling, grammar, and vocabulary, but it’s also a excellent way to learn the more professional tone for the language you’re learning.

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Author: Ken Leong

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.

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