Tips for learning languages

I’ve decided to make a thread where you can post various suggestions, tips, articles, resources and so on that you’ve found which relate to helping us learn languages more efficiently and enjoyably. These can relate either directly to LingQ or to languages in general.

I’ll start off with a great idea that I found on Khatzumoto’s website and which involves changing your computer’s operating system language to your target language. I’ve had Windows in French for ages now and I have just switched to Spanish. I also have my browser and most commonly-used programs currently in either French or Spanish. I find that doing this just helps to keep up the immersion environment and make me a little more attentive. It also helps of course with learning vocabulary, especially when I go to change settings and search for things and so on. Has anyone else tried this?

If you’re interested, for those using Vista there is a software program called Vistalizator which allows you to alter the OS language. It also contains the necessary language packs.

Here is the site:

I"ve tried this, and i just got my phone all messed up, cuz i tried it on my cell. And my spanish friend had to fix it

I tried this several times over the years. I thought I was the one who came up with this idea first, actually. (Ahem.)

Unfortunately, the idea had an inherent flaw that I somehow overlooked. While it did help me learn and internalize a few words and terms in their “native” context, the overall impact was minimal. The use of the computer is based on muscle memory and familiarity. When I switched the OS to a different language, I kept using the same all keyboard shortcuts I’d been using for years. I didn’t really read the text in any dialogs or alerts—I already knew what they were. When an occasional unfamiliar dialog would pop up, I’d be mostly frustrated, because I had to spend time translating it, rather than working.

My conclusion is that switching the OS UI to another language is good for beginner computer users or, generally, for not computer-savvy people. It is also a good idea for those, who don’t use their computer as their primary professional tool.

Computer games would work better than the OS itself, because they imply novelty and are fun. But you need to have (a) time to play them and (b) desire to play them. I, unfortunately, have neither.

When I bought my mp3-player I selected Swedish as interface language. :)) Then Japanese. And only recently I decided to switch to English. How many functions my mp3-player has!!! :)))

That’s an interesting proposal to change for example the operating system of a PC into foreign languages of choice. My whole computer including keyboard is in Dutch including the software programs as Windows and MS Office. This has as an effect that I am now billingual German/Dutch with the whole IT terminology. I regret very much that I don’t have “Open Office” installed, because when using “Open Office” you can change the interface language very easily as often you want for example from Dutch to French, from French to Italian and even from Italian to Esperanto. So when I get the chance, I will certainly decide for “Open Office”.

Hmmm. I’ve often wondered why there are not any (??) fun, entertaining language based computer games out there which I could play, while absorbing by osmosis, a target language. Any suggestions? Maybe a new thread topic?

I am not a fan of language games. I like meaning. I like how words are put together to express meaning. I like the sound of languages. I like communication. But I recognize that others feel differently.


OpenOffice is free.

If you have your own computer and an internet connection (which I assume you do since you are on LingQ) what are you waiting for?

I will discuss the “Open Office” question with my friend who is my private IT administrator. On my old laptop it wasn’t possible to install “Open Office”, because the program was to “heavy”. He has to check for me, whether this laptop now is capable to work with such a program. Yes, I know that Open Office is freeware.

I like play in “Civilization”. There are several nations, and every unit, when you click on it, answer in its language something like “yes, what do you want?” When I started learning Japanese, I began play for Japanese empire (before I prefer play for Russian empress Yekaterina II or Egyptian Hatshepsut). But then I got so engrossed in learning Japanese, that I stopped playing in computer games :)))

I don’t have experiences with language games, but I assume that there you deal with words without having or building up a context. I am also a very context-oriented language learner, so I understand Steve’s argumentation well. But to build my own opinion on the topic of language games, I would first want to try it out.

I think that it doesn’t hurt and I think that it’s ‘fun’ while you learn something, but it’s definitely lower resonance learning to be playing a video game. I play video games in Polish, they do help, just not as much as direct reading and listening…

Well in terms of games specifically designed for the purpose of learning languages they are completely and utter crap. You always get them with those $10 “Learn Fluent Japanese in 100 milliseconds!” type of software. I know that with the growing global popularity of X-Box and Playstation, regional support is embedded in the US Versions of video games. I never liked using it, because games never had spoken dialog , but now if you just simply change the console settings to that specific language, the entire game will be set to that language. I know that the company Valve was one of the first major companies to do that, because I remember finding it so cool that I could play Half-Life 2 completely in German. They also almost always have subtitles in the options, so you can also follow along with the written word.

Not saying that this is a good way to ‘study’ languages, but definitely offers a good passive learning approach :stuck_out_tongue: Just the other day I was playing Left 4 Dead and Dead Space in French with audio and everything. Perhaps I will never use phrases like “Voici la horde des Zombies” or “Effondrement de singularité gravitationnel” but stuff like that makes up a small percentage of the vocab, and the rest definitely has relevance to everyday topics. So if ever you get nauseous from too much intense language study, fool around with the settings on your computer or video game console and see if the games you play have your target language. :wink:

I agree with astamoore as I’ve tried this before too. It’s fun to change the interface language but I don’t think it’s very efficient for language learning.

Sometimes I watch the news in my target language. I like it because the video and onscreen text often corresponds closely with what is being said and there is a real story to follow. Also I think most news broadcasters intentionally use more common language. It’s a nice break from the LingQ routine. But I haven’t found watching other TV programming or films to be as useful. I’ve picked up on a lot more vocabulary from watching 20 minutes of news than watching a 2 hour movie!

Sometimes I buy Spanish music and sing along to try to pick up the pronunciation correctly (this is a fun way!)
Also whenever I buy a dvd of something I like I watch it in English, and then at a later date, switch the audio into Spanish dubbing. I have already seen it in English, so i’d have a good idea of what’s happening. Also, like Sopshi, I watch the news in Spanish . Here in Europe we have Euronews, which is the same news, but in 20 languages, so you can choose Spanish.
Oh, also, my NO.1 recommendation is language conversation exchange (this one is the most fun), where you meet with someone who speaks Spanish, they teach you and you teach them, its very informal, so you don’t need to take anything, and it’s a great way to make friends, too. :wink:

I put my Xbox 360 console in Spanish, which my whole dashboard goes into Spanish, and most of the time, the voices change into Spanish for some of my games. The main ones are Ghost Recon 2 and Ghost Recon 2 Summit Strike. lol I always joke to my parents that I am learning my Spanish through combat, finding new words and taking them down! I like it because at times mission objectives change and they are said differently so I have to pay attention to what is being said otherwise…failure. It also makes me think more in the language and more quickly, which makes me process the language quicker.