Forget the Phrasebook

Eight fun but effective ways to learn a new language

| July / August 2003

SICK OF SITTING in musty language labs conjugating verbs? Assuming you can?t take six months off tomorrow and fly to Amsterdam to learn Dutch by immersion, here are a few painless and creative ways to master a foreign language:

1. Learn the Language of Food

Good cookbooks that focus on a particular country or region are great resources for learning language and culture. Not only will you learn how to correctly pronounce and prepare various dishes, but you?ll also get a culinary history primer. For example: Tagine is a Moroccan stew named after the vessel in which it is cooked.

2. Translate Fiction

Students used to master Greek and Latin by translating literary classics word by word. Sounds crazy, but it works. Try tackling a short story or novella. Write down all the words you look up so you can review them later. Another approach is to begin with a work by an author you love that?s been translated into the language you want to learn. For the most bang for your buck, translate poetry!

3. Read Zines in a Foreign Language