5 things to do to when starting a new language

apprendre une langueIn this article I will give 5 practical things to do when starting learning a new language.

An audio guide
Whether you are learning a language for the pleasure or for
professional reasons, it’s always useful to use an audio guide.
What’s an audio guide?
It consists of mp3 files that you can put in your player to
listen to them, have a first contact with the language,
get used to it and learn some basic words and sentences.
There are a lot of audio guides.
You can either find them on the internet or in libraries or
simply buy them in bookstores.
Among the famous audio guides, the one I know are “Rosetta
Sone” and “Pimsleur”.
I personally tried “Pimsleur” to start learning Hungarian and
Polish.
To learn more about the Pimsleur method, you can read my review
here.

A phrasebook
This is really useful, especially if you want to directly
communicate while traveling.
A phrasebook is a book with ready-to-use sentences and
expressions, written in your native language from one side, and
the language you are learning from the other, with phonetics to
indicate the pronunciation.
There are many good phrasebooks.
One of the most known is “Assimil”.

A “teach yourself” book
I particularly like the book series “teach yourself” and I used
them a lot to learn Hungarian.
This book combines communication, pronounciation, grammar and
conjugation.
It usually consists of lessons where instructions are written
in English.
Each lesson starts with a dialog, written in the language you
are learning.
Then, in the bottom, the new vocabulary or the key words; the
minimum words are written with their meaning in
English so that it’s easy to understand the dialogue.
The book comes with a CD or audio files. With that, you can
listen to the dialogue and try acting it out by yourself,
imitating the pronunciations and intonations of the language
you are learning.
You will also find exercises to understand more the dialogue
and have some cultural facts related to it.
I think this is one of the best methods if you want to learn a
language by yourself.
But you should keep motivating yourself and work regularly, and
believe me, this is not an easy thing.

A dictionary
It may sound wierd, but dictionary is not really the first
thing you need when learning a new language. Unless you want to
learn different words out of context, trying to translate
made-up sentences from your native language to the language you
are learning is not really recommended.
In the same time, while you are using a phrasebook, a “teach
yourself” book or having a teacher or a tutor, the more you
immerse yourself in the language you are learning, the more you
will need to know the meaning of new words or looking for how
to say certain words in the language you are learning.
Google translate has been criticized but is a good compromise.

A teacher or a tutor
The best way to learn a language, especially if you have no
experience with learning languages, is to do it with an expert.
If the language you are learning belongs to the family of a
langauge you already are fluent at, then maybe you can do it
without a teacher. But if you suddenly decide to learn Chinese,
Arabic or Polish and you know no language connected to those
and you have no experience, then better have someone to guide
you.
Among the websites that I highly recommend are italki.com.
On this website, you can offer language classes or tutoring and
learn languages in the same time.
But if you are not good at teaching nor have enough money to
take language classes there, you can always look for a language
partner.

A language partner
A language partner is a person who wants to learn one of the
languages you are already fluent at and who can help you in the
language you are learning.
One more time, italki.com is one of the most useful websites
for that purpose.
If you want more info about how useful it is to have a language
partner, read my article here.

Let’s sum up what we said
So what are the first steps to learn a new language?
1- Find a good audio guide so that you get used to the language
and have a first contact with it!
2- Find a good phrasebook if you want to start speaking now
with practical sentences (especially if you are a travelling
person)
3- Look on the internet, in libraries, in book shops, a “teach
yourself” book
4- Have a dictionary
5- Help yourself with a tutor, a teacher or a language partner

5 trucs à faire pour commencer à apprendre une nouvelle langue

apprendre une langueDans l’article précédent, nous avons défini ce que c’est qu’apprendre une langue, comment déterminer la difficulté de celle-ci et la nécessité de définir des objectifs.
Dans cet article, je vais citer quelques moyens pratiques pour aborder rapidement une nouvelle langue.

Un guide audio
Que vous apprenez une langue pour le plaisir ou pour des raisons professionnelles, un guide audio est toujours pratique.
Qu’est-ce que c’est qu’un guide audio?
Cela consiste en des fichiers mp3 que vous pouvez mettre dans votre lecteur pour les écouter, avoir un premier contact avec la langue,
vous familiariser avec celle-ci et apprendre à prononcer quelques premiers mots.
Plusieurs guides audios existent.
Vous pourrez soit les trouver sur internet, soit en bibliothèque près de chez-vous, soit simplement les acheter dans des librairies.
Parmi les méthodes audios célèbres, je cite “Rosetta Sone” and “Pimsleur”. J’ai personnellement essayé “Pimsleur” pour commencer à apprendre le hongrois et le polonais.
Pour en savoir plus sur cette méthode vous pourrez lire mon avis ici.

Un guide de conversation
Cela reste très utile, surtout si vous voulez directement communiquer lors d’un voyage.
Un guide de conversation c’est un livre avec des phrases toutes faites, écrits dans votre langue maternelle d’un côté, et dans la langue que vous apprenez de l’autre, avec des symboles pour indiquer la manière de prononcer.
Il existe beaucoup de guides de conversations très biens.
Le plus connu est sans doute “Assimil”.

Un livre “teach yourself”
J’apprécie particulièrement la série de livres “teach yourself” et je les ai utilisés beaucoup pour apprendre le hongrois.
Ce livre combine à la fois communication, grammaire, conjugaison, langue et orthographe.
Il est généralement constitué de leçons où les instructions sont en anglais.
Au début de chaque leçon, un dialogue est présenté, écrit dans la langue que vous apprenez.
En bas, dans un cadre, les mots nouveaux, expliqués en anglais.
Le livre est généralement accompagné d’un CD ou fichiers audios, ce qui vous permettra d’écouter le dialogue et de le relire tout seul.
A la suite, vous trouverez quelques exercices pour comprendre plus le dialogue, des faits culturels et des exercices de grammaire.
Cette méthode est la meilleure si vous voulez apprendre une langue tout seul.
Mais vous devrez constamment vous motiver et travailler régulièrement.

Un dictionnaire
Je n’ai pas mentionné le dictionnaire depuis le début car ce n’est pas la première chose dont vous aurez besoin quand vous apprenez une langue mais cela reste très utile.
Plus vous plongez dans la langue que vous apprenez, plus vous allez avoir besoin de connaître la signification de nouveaux mots ou de chercher comment dire certains mots dans la langue que vous apprenez. Google translate a toujours été critiqué mais reste un bon compromis.

Un professeur – un tuteur
Le meilleur moyen d’apprendre une langue, surtout lorsque vous n’avez pas d’expérience, c’est de vous faire guider par un expert.
Si la langue que vous apprenez appartient à la même famille d’une langue que vous maîtrisez (par exemple vous connaissez le français et vous apprenez l’espagnol) alors, vous pourrez peut-être vous passer d’un professeur.
Mais si vous décidez d’apprendre le chinois ou l’arabe ou le polonais et que vous ne connaissez aucune langue de la même famille et que vous n’avez pas d’expérience, alors mieux vaut s’entourer d’un professeur ou d’un tuteur.
Parmi les sites webs que je recommande c’est italki.com.
Sur ce site, vous pourrez à la fois donner des cours de langue ou faire du tutorat et apprendre des langues.
En même temps, si vous n’êtes pas très doué pour enseigner les langues et que vous n’avez pas les moyens pour l’instant
pour vous payer un tuteur ou professeur, vous pourrez toujours recourir à un partenaire linguistique.

Un partenaire linguistique
Un partenaire linguistique est une personne qui désire apprendre une des langues que vous maîtrisez et qui peut vous aider dans la langue que vous apprenez.
italki.com est là encore un site très utile pour ça.
Pour plus d’infos sur les bienfaits d’un partenaire linguistique, vous pourrez consulter mon article ici!

Résumé
Finalement, quels sont les premiers pas à faire pour apprendre une nouvelle langue?
1- Trouvez-vous un guide audio et commencez à vous familiariser avec la langue!
2- Trouvez-vous un guide de conversation si vous voulez commencer à communiquer maintenant avec des phrases basiques
3- Cherchez sur internet, dans une librairie, dans une bibliothèque, un livre “teach yourself” dans la langue que vous apprenez et commencez à étudier de plus près la langue
4- Aidez-vous d’un dictionnaire tout le long de ces étapes; traduire un mot étranger vers sa langue maternelle est toujours utile
5- Trouvez-vous un tuteur, un professeur et/ou un partenaire, pour parfaire vos connaissances, pour pratiquer la langue et pour vous faire guider!

Apprendre une langue, c’est quoi?

apprendre une langueDéfinir ce que c’est qu’apprendre une langue
Tout d’abord définissons ce que c’est qu’apprendre une langue.
Avant de parler de grammaire, de conjugaison, de cas de terminaisons et d’autres ambiguïtés et difficultés rencontrées lorsqu’on aborde une nouvelle langue, apprendre une langue c’est apprendre à communiquer avec l’autre, à travers un nouvel langage, une nouvelle culture, une nouvelle manière d’aborder le monde, et les bienfaits, bien-sûr, sont innombrables.

Quel est votre objectif?
Maintenant qu’on connaît ce que c’est qu’apprendre une langue, essayons de comprendre où nous allons. Quel est votre objectif?
Voulez-vous juste communiquer avec des phrases basiques et des questions basiques? Ou bien, au contraire, vous voulez être capable de lire des romans et des nouvelles de la langue que vous apprenez?
Serez-vous satisfait avec le niveau A1-A2? (Pour plus d’infos sur les différents niveaux A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 et leur signification, référez-vous à cet article de Wikipédia ici)
Ou au contraire, vous seriez plus ambitieux et aimeriez atteindre le niveau B1-B2 et pourquoi pas C1-C2?
Apprenez-vous la langue pour le plaisir de voyager?
Ou est-ce un objectif professionnel?
Vous devrez prendre en considération tout cela, car ça déterminera votre manière d’apprendre la langue.
Si c’est pour le plaisir de voyager, vous pourrez mettre la grammaire de côté pour un moment, vous concentrez sur le vocabulaire et sur les phrases utiles à connaître.
Si c’est pour un travail, un entretien d’embauche ou des études, là, une manière plus systémique s’impose, et hélas, vous devrez prendre le chemin classique, commencer par la grammaire et étudier de manière convenable et “sérieuse”, la langue que vous décidez d’apprendre.

Quelle est la relation entre la langue que vous avez décidé d’apprendre et les autres langues?
Cette question est très importante.
Cela va déterminer non seulement la durée que ça va vous prendre pour apprendre la langue, mais aussi la manière avec laquelle vous allez apprendre la langue.
En effet, si vous décidez d’apprendre le Russe (qui est appartient à la famille des langues slaves) alors que vous connaissez déjà le Polonais (qui appartient à la famille des langues slaves aussi), ou si vous décidez d’apprendre l’espagnol (langue latine) alors que vous connaissez le français (langue latine aussi), vous aurez une longueur d’avance et vous n’aurez pas le sentiment de commencer à zéro.
En revanche, si vous n’avez pas beaucoup d’expériences avec les langues et que la langue que vous désirez apprendre n’appartient pas à la même famille des langues que vous connaissez déjà, vous devrez vous y mettre sérieusement et travailler à longue haleine.
Après, tout dépendra des objectifs que vous vous mettez.

Et maintenant…
Maintenant qu’on sait ce que c’est qu’apprendre une langue et qu’on a définit plus ou moins nos objectifs, attaquons la deuxième partie!
Les premiers pas pour apprendre une langue! Cliquez ici!

French Movies to watch!

A lot of people want to watch French movies
I got this question from a lot of my students who are interested in learning French, and as a Tunisian, I love both the French culture and the Maghrebi-French culture. So you will find in this article typical French movies along with ones that tells about the Maghrebi culture.

It takes all sorts to make a world
I don’t claim that these are the best French movie ever (since there is a lot and preferences are different from one person to another) but you’ll definitely like some of them, I’m sure!

Don’t expect the American movie plot in a French movie. Just watch it and enjoy it!
It’s obvious for some but not for others but you have to know that French movies are different from the most common movies we watch in our daily life which are in most cases american movies.
In French movies, the filming techniques will be different, the way the story is told will be different, and so the music, and so the movie plot but I’m not an expert.
The idea is that you have to release yourself from all your expectations when watching a French movie. Don’t compared to the American one. Just watch it and enjoy it!

List of French movie that I recommend you to watch

ce-que-le-jour-doit-a-la-nuit-wallpaper_412469_47608Ce que le jour doit à la nuit
This is a beautiful love story with some history and a political background about the colonization of Algeria. The movie is eventful, so you will not get bored and in the same time, it has a love story. The best mix ever!
And by the way, this is a novel written by Yasmine Khadhra, an Algerian writer

 

Indigenes___SLIM-09552403042007Indigènes
Another beautiful movie, about the 2nd world war, speaking about the Maghrebi people who joined the French troops but who were not recognized as real contributors because of their ethnicity. The way the story is told is simply amazing!

 

imagesLe fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain
This is a real must, you probably have already watched it and if not, you should go directly watch it, now!

 

 

 

 

 

downloadIntouchables
The story is not amazing, neither the actors, but you know, sometimes, the way you tell a story makes it more amazing than the story itself. If you like humor, comedy, drama, action, love, you will find all these recipes in this exceptional French movie!

 

 

 

les-choristesLes choristes
The story takes place in the mid of the 20th century. A professor, who believed that you can educate and teach children without threatening them or hitting them or punishing them all the time, like everyone used to do at that time is going to do that through music.
French people use to make fun of the music of the movie because it got so much success and of course, when you hear it too much, you kind of get bored.
Anyway, the movie has so much magic and it is worth watching!

 

576420-amour-dure-trois-ans-affiche

L’amour dure trois ans
Frédéric Beigbeder, a French writer, critic and TV presenter, is certainly not the most subtle and romantic person when it’s about love that’s why I recommend you watching this movie!
If you’re also fan of books, you can read his book (that was turned into this movie) or another book called ” L’égoïste romantique “.

 

 

 

therese-desqueyroux-audrey-tautou-afficheThérèse Desqueyroux
It’s certainly not the most attractive movie to watch but it’s also a book and the movie tells a lot about the French culture and way of life during the 1900’s. It’s a great movie to watch if you want to know more about the French philosophy, poetry and history.

 

 

 

 

How to download them
I know that this is “bad”, and especially for books, music and movies but in some country it’s impossible to buy the movie or borrow it (because it’s simply unavailable). So in this case, you can simply use “Torrent” to download it and watch it!
What is “Torrent”? Torrent is a “software” (not really, but to make it simple we can say so).
This software is available through the internet and you can download it.
Then, you can look for the movie and download it through this software.
You will find a lot of tutorials in the internet explaining how to do that.
And the good news is that all the French movies I mentioned are available through Torrent!

Happy French learning everyone!

Why I decided to learn Hungarian

myHungarianJourneyOn November 2012, I decided to start learning Hungarian.
Why?

I was an active member of AIESEC
At that time, I was actively involved in AIESEC, the international student organization and every day, I was meeting with people from different countries.
Every time a new culture, every time a new language.

English, French and Arabic seemed to be not enough
My knowledge of English, French and Arabic seemed suddenly not enough to communicate as some words doesn’t exist or can’t be translated, as you can’t really get to describe some emotions using only English.
I felt that when I had my first internship with AIESEC in Poland.
When living with a Spanish, a Ukrainian, a German and a Turkish, the only common language we had was English.
We could communicate greatly using it at some point.
But the thing is that I had some ideas that I couldn’t really transmit using English.
It’s funny though how the first thing that we did was learning each other’s native bad words. And the Tunisian mother fucker version won at the game as it became our international way to insult each other when teasing each other.

Then, I had my first contact with Hungarian
Among the international interns that we had in Tunisia when being actively involved at AIESEC was a Hungarian student.
I still remember how the language sounded for me when the student was picking up the phone and answering in the native language.
It was far from being a latin or german or slavic language. In the same time, it was not Asian nor African.

Hungarian was mysterious for me
The language was such mysterious for me that I wanted to look for it more on the internet.

The beginning of my Hungarian journey
I just typed “learn Hungarian” on google and started my search.
I found out many useful resources and websites and since that day I committed myself to learn Hungarian.
There were days where I was studying hours and hours through books.
And others where I was discouraged or bored or tired or busy with my studies at university

Hungarian has no relation with any other language
This is one of the reason why learning Hungarian felt so exciting for me.
Although Hungary was in the heart of Europe, surrounded by Romania and Ukraine from the east, Slovakia from the north, Austria from the West and Serbia and Croatia from the south, the language spoken there had nothing to do with any of the languages of the surrounding countries.
This was quite fascinating for me.
The only languages reported to have a relation with Hungarian are Finnish and Estonian but none of them really helps to understand the other.

Learning Hungarian meant that I’d have to start everything from scratch
When I was in high school, once, during summer, I had an intensive Italian classes. After that, I could easily communicate and understand most of what was said to me. But that was quite easy for me knowing that I’m already comfortable using French.
About Hungarian, everything was going to be different.
Not only the language had no elementary connections with any other, but also resources and people to speak with was more challenging to find as the language is not widely spread in the world such as English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German or some others.

My theory about Hungarian
I truly believe that if I could “master” Hungarian, I would be able to learn any language. Or at least, if I could figure out a way throughout my mind to decrypt this language, maybe the way will lead to a more flexible learning with language where we already have some “reference”.

This is how my journey started
It started for fun and then I committed myself to it and it became part of my life.
And you can see here, a video made almost two years ago, when I just started learning the language.

And you? Do you have a story to share with a special or an exotic language that you started to learn? Feel free to leave a comment and to open a page of the book of your life with us!

The Pimsleur method for learning languages

hallgatni pimsleur hungarianA brief introduction about the Pimsleur method
For those who doesn’t know the method, Pimsleur is an easy-to-follow audio method, performed by an american who meticulously studied the process of learning languages. He worked on the short term memory process and on the long term one, and following that, he created the audio files (which last 30 minutes each) in which he was introducing no more than 5 words per lesson.
Following the intructions, you have to pronounce the words syllable by syllable the first time.
Then, you are asked to repeat that word, each time after a longer time period so that, in the end, you unconsciously learn that word.

How I worked with the Pimsleur method
Pimsleur is available in so many different languages and most of the time, it contains 3 levels with 30 audio
file each. Unfortunately, there were only 1 level in Hungarian (which means only 30 files).
I started on November 24th 2012 and by December 31st 2012, I finished all the audio files.
There were some days where I did only one lesson, listening to the same one up to 3 times to memorize well all the new words and there were other times where I listened to 2 lessons the same day because what I was learning started to be quiet easy for me.
There were also days where I couldn’t have any lesson because I was having exams at university.

What I liked about the Pimsleur method
After one month of using Pimsleur, I had the illusion that I was speaking Hungarian.
I could count in Hungarian and say the time, I could greet in all situations, I could ask how are you, I could present my wife
(if I would have one) and enumerate my children, I could say goodbye, I could ask directions, I could invite someone
to the restaurant or to the hotel (yes, Pimsleur teach you that!), I could order coffee, water, beer and wine,
I could ask someone to buy me a book or a CD and I could ask for the price and I learnt how to say I have no
money and how to ask someone to give me money (yes, although buying Pimsleur costs a lot of money, using
Pimsleur to learn languages teaches you also how to look like a poor tourist who need some help).
I liked this part, where I had more confidence about Hungarian and how I could recall easily the words to my mind.
I liked this side of Pimsleur where I had to do no effort, just put the audio file and listen, and repeat when I’m asked to do so.

What I didn’t like about the Pimsleur method
My knowledge about grammar was really tiny after the 30 lessons I had and this was really a bad point.
Grammar is essential when you want to make up sentences and when you want to express more elaborated thoughts.
If I would look back to the vision of Pimsleur, I would say that this guy had in his mind the following situation:
I am a businessman, I have no time to learn any language, I have a busy schedule, but I could listen to an audio file during 30 minutes a day when I’m on my car driving the way back home or going to my office.
I am a businessman who doesn’t really want to learn a language in depth, I just want to have some common expressions
to be able to deal with everyday situations without wishing for more when travelling.
Pimsleur succeed this way but for real language learners, this is not learning a new language.

The Pimsleur method is the perfect example of the one-week-travelling tourist
You have two types of tourists; those who travel for only one week or two, to see the beach or some touristic sites,
to do some shopping in some mall and then go back home satisfied.
And you have the other form of tourists, the ones who stay more than few weeks, the ones who experience the daily life
of locals and the ones who get to know better with the culture.
The Pimsleur method succeed at being the first category of tourists.

You will not be fluent in a language using only the Pimsleur method
First let’s define fluency; it’s the ability to express one’s self easily and articulately in most common situations you are supposed to have knowledge of. So if you know how to say “Hi” and “How are you” in a foreign language and you don’t know how to explain to someone that “A crime has been committed in a back street and you need to call the police” for instance (which you naturally can do in your mother tongue), then you are not fluent.
And if you think that you are going to be fluent only by listening to audio files, then you are a dreamer.

How to get the best of the Pimsleur method
The first option is that you are using Pimsleur to learn a language you are familiar with.
For instance, if you know Polish and you are using Pimsleur for Russian, it might be really helpful.
Or if you know French and you are using Pimsleur to learn Italian, it might be also helpful.
Honestly, I still didn’t explore this option so I’m still unsure about the effectiveness of the result with Pimsleur regarding that.
The second option is that you are using the Pimsleur method combined with other methods. Then, using Pimsleur will be successful to help you to be fluent because using this audio method will release you from the difficulty of memorizing
new words in a new language you have to face in the beginning.

 

The benefit of having a language partner when learning a new language

language partnerPractice makes perfect
Using books, learning grammar, using audio methods like the Pimsleur one, all of that is good while learning a new language. But the most important is to practice and as the proverb says: Practice makes perfect.
Whether you are a beginner or not, whether you think you can speak or not, you have to practice, because this is the only way that will lead you to fluency in a new language.
“But how can I practice in my home town while I’m learning a language that no one speaks here?”
Yes, I completly understand. And I really understand this question since I’m learning Hungarian in Tunisia.
And it’s not really easy to find Hungarian speakers here.

How to find a language partner
This is the easiest thing to do and there is a lot of websites that offers this service.
Among them, the best that I can mention are italki, Couchsurfing and Facebook.
Italki is good but if you wanna have someone really serious to help you, you have to pay money, and this might be a problem if you are still a jobless student!
Couchsurfing is full of committed people. You just have to find the right place to write and you just have to be patient.
And finally Facebook, the most powerful social network, you can find many little groups where there is a some
community learning a certain language, just don’t get tired of posting messages. One day, there might be someone interesting and really helpful that will answer your message.

How to keep a language partner
Now comes the real question: how to keep a language partner?
You can have many language partners that will show up one day and find hundred of excuses to not show up anymore.
They will be busy or sick or they will probably never answer anymore when you are talking to them on Skype.
(At least, it happened to me).
The secret: never set expectations on your language partner and show your love to the culture and the language.

Never set expectations on your language partner
When asking someone to spend time with you on Skype to learn a new language, always ask: do you have 2 minutes?
Everyone has 2 minutes to spend on Skype and this could be a great introduction to your “partnership”.
Some people get frustrated if you ask them to spend more time with you helping you with the language.
After all, they don’t know you and they might be busy having their own life.
Starting with 2 minutes and not making too much pressure on your language partner gives him the wish to help you more as he/she sees your motivation to learn the language.

Show your love to the culture and the language
Always try to impress your language partner.
If it happens that he/she gives you homework, try your best to do them and add more things to it.
Impressing your language partner is a key to keep him/her helping you because he/she might realize that spending time
with you gives him/her the joy to feel that he/she is really doing something by noticing your improvement

How to learn from your language partner
Your language partner might not be the greatest teacher.
He/she might not be a great person to explain things in his native language because, after all, it’s his
mother tongue and when you ask him/her: “Why do you say this instead of this?” He/She will not always find
an answer.
But keep in your mind that having a language partner is a key to learn a foreign language because he/she will be
your only real mediator to the language. Until the day you have the opportunity to travel and get totally immersed!