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10 Simple Ways to Make a Second Language Part of Your Daily Life

One of the great things about learning a second language is the opening your world to a new culture. One of the not so great things about learning a second language is that it requires daily practice. While traveling to the country where your second language is spoken is not possible on a daily basis, having exposure to your second language does not need to be difficult.

In the words of Marcel Proust , "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Here are ten simple ways to make your second language part of your daily life.

  1. Change the language in your cell phone. If you have had your phone for a while, you are already familiar with how it works so why not change the language in your phone? Every time you answer your phone or send a text, you will read in your second language, increasing your vocabulary and reinforcing your language skills..
  2. Change the language in your Ipod or MP3 player. Again, each time you select a song to listen to you will be reading in your second language, are reinforcing your language skills.
  3. Change the language In your GPS system. Changing the language your GPS allows you to both listen and read in your second language. Ordinary trips in your neighborhood take on a different light when the voice in your GPS system tells you to turn to the left or turn to the right in your second language.
  4. Change the soundtrack and/or language while watching DVDs. Putting the soundtrack in your second language allows you to hear language at a normal conversational speed. You can also learn quite a bit of contemporary language this way. Putting the subtitles in French reinforces your reading skills as well.
  5. Change the language in your Gmail account to your second language. It is simple to change the language in your Gmail account and this simple change allows you to carry out all of the functions such as writing an email, attaching files, and sending files in your second language. You can also take advantage of using the spell check in your second language.
  6. Open a Yahoo email account in the country where your language is spoken. Having a Yahoo account in a second language is not only chic but as mentioned above; it requires you to carry out all email functions In your second language.
  7. Read the sales circulars in your second language to increase your vocabulary. Both Costco and Walmart ( You can put in  G2K 2M4 for the zip code of Québec City) have French websites and reading the circulars and other publications online help to increase your vocabulary of everyday items.
  8. Use a home page written in your target language. You can use Igoogle to create a home page in your second language. IGoogle has many customizable modules which allow you to have access to many references in your target language. My Yahoo complements the Yahoo account in the second language. It has many customizable modules as well. Having a home page in your second language keeps you aware of all of the everyday aspects such as news, weather, sports, and other cultural things. My personal home page is L'Internaute , which keeps the French speaking world at my fingertips.
  9. Change your computer keyboard settings to access foreign language characters. There are several ways to type foreign language characters. You can either use ALT codes or change the settings on your keyboard. For me, the easiest way is to change the settings. You can find both the ALT codes and the directions here. Typing the characters in your second language must become second nature so that you can communicate via email, forums, or instant messaging with ease.
  10. Obtain materials travel in your second language from your local tourist bureau and wherever you travel. Many large cities print informational brochures about their cities in several languages. Make a point of stopping by the your local tourist bureau and the tourist bureaus in each new city you visit and ask for materials in your second language. Additionally, if the city is a large one, check to see if there is a guide book about that city written in your second language. Not only will you have a souvenir of the city, but you will also be able to practice your second language as well.

What do YOU do to make your second language a part of your daily life?

Update: For additional resources and strategies, consult Soyez Motivés! at the French Corner. This blog has additional tips as well as excellent thematic vocabulary.


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A good way to get up to speed with L2 is to learn L3, &c. using materials in L2. And perhaps use L3 to learn L4, and so on in a continuous pattern. wiktionary.org is a great resource for definitions in multiple languages.

I download podcasts in the second language and listen to them on my ipod when I am walking to and from work each day. I can find podcasts on all sorts of topics that are interesting to me, and if you have the podcast in iTunes, and you set it to "audiobook" in the Get Info menu, then on your iPod you can slow down the audio in the iPod "settings" options. I have also found that listening to audio books in the second language is quite useful, especially if I have the book at home to familiarize myself with the words and difficult passages.

Thank you so much for your excellent tips. I will share these with my students. Merci beaucoup!

No offense, but if there's a facebook like button, it'll be much easier for me to share.

Thank you so much for the suggestion. I'll be updating this week!

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