Learning a language (specifically German) has been one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever done.
I’ve taken 8 months of intensive German classes, numerous other supplementary classes, but after 18 months of living in Germany my German is still not at the level I would like it to be. As a result I decided it was time to change my strategy and make learning German fun, something which it has not been for me for a long time, if ever.
Part of my new learning a language strategy includes reading celebrity magazines in German which is why I love Zinio Online Magazines. Instant access! I can see the expression on your face as you read this. You may be thinking that celebrity magazines are nothing but trash magazines, not worth the ink they’re printed on, but I can tell you from my experience that after just reading them for several weeks, I’ve already noticed significant improvements in my vocabulary. I also know I am a visual learner so reading celebrity magazines supports my visual learning style (see The Best Way to Learn a Language Besides Speaking It to discover your learning style) and I find it fun (see 5 Fun Language Learning Techniques for other fun ways to learn a language)
Here’s why I think that reading about whether Britney Spears third upcoming marriage is her last of if JLo is just using her new 20-something boy toy for revenge against Marc Anthony can help you learn a language:
Vocabulary is Simple and Focuses on Day to Day Life – Celebrity magazines are not written for rocket scientists. The vocabulary is simple and the topics are light, but this is exactly what you need when you’re learning a language. The topics are also repetitive – someone has a new boyfriend, someone is too thin, someone is too fat, someone can’t find love….. Repetition is exactly what you need for learning a language. In addition, while you may or may not be discussing celebrities in your own life, you are likely discussing age, family, relationships, or entertainment, providing further repetition and applying your new vocabulary in a way that makes sense to you.
Lots of Photos- Photos are a great way to aid in learning a language and can help provide clues as to what the article or blurb is about. I find that once I have the context, it’s easier to understand the rest of the article.
Entertainment – I realize that reading celebrity magazines would not be considered entertainment for everyone, but I find them much more entertaining than reading something I have zero interest in, just for the sake of practicing my German. When I’m interested in something I’m much more likely to look up words I don’t understand and take the time to understand the context.
Information is in Small Chunks – I love that the information is presented in small chunks so that reading a celebrity magazine is not overwhelming. It also makes it easy to motivate myself to just do a little bit, even on days when I’m swamped with other things since reading a page is often only a matter of a few minutes.
Familiarity – Even though I read German celebrity magazines, many of the celebrities featured are American or other well known international celebrities making it easier to understand the context. I find knowing the context makes it much easier to understand what’s being said than if an article is about a person or subject that I know nothing about.
Fun – Lastly, although I hate to admit it, I find reading celebrity magazines entertaining and since I find it fun, I’m motivated to make time to read them on a regular basis and practicing a new language on a regular basis is key in learning a language. There’s also an iPhone app for one of the magazines I read, so I read it on the train making reading this language learning technique portable – and a lot cheaper than a language school!
What off-beat things have helped you learn a language?
Note: All photos are from inTouch (the German edition).
Check out more posts on language below in the January German Bloggers Roundtable: