Roman Malanke

Working with the Best Sources

What follows is another little chapter from my suspended e-book on language learning. It talks about the importance of choosing and working with the best sources for effective learning.

There is countless number of ways to achieve any goal, and learning a new language is no exception. However some ways might be quicker and more efficient than others. If you want to make a fast progress, it’s important to work with best sources. Luckily in today’s world it’s so much easier to identify what is best and access it than it was in the past. Let’s see on my example with Spanish how I made sure that I used the best dictionaries, studied by the best learning materials and had the best listening and speaking practice possible.

First thing I did after deciding to learn Spanish was reading a Wikipedia article about this language. It said that there is a single institution responsible for regulating the language across Spain and 21 other Spanish-speaking countries, called “Real Academia Española”. Next I went to the website of this organization and found that it maintains a free online version of its dictionary. Five minutes of research and I have in my hands the most complete and authoritative explanatory dictionary of Spanish language for free.

My main learning materials were podcasts and I was able to easily pick the best ones for every stage of learning by relying on feedback from other learners. If the material is bad people usually silently drop it, but when it’s good and helpful they are happy to show their appreciation by writing a good review or giving a 5-star rating. So if you just sort the podcast dedicated to “your” language in iTunes by number of reviews there’s a big chance that the best ones will be on top.

With regard to comprehension practice and cultural immersion I see no better way than listening and watching the same stuff as natives do. In the past it was impossible to tune into a Spanish station from another country. But now I can go online and listen to Spanish national radio live broadcast while having my breakfast in Kyiv, Ukraine.

And what can help more in improving speaking skills than talking with natives? In the past it was difficult: you would need to travel abroad or to go to expensive language schools that could afford having native speakers in their staff. These days you can simply go online and find thousands of like-minded people and set up free conversations with them using Skype.