Here’s a language learning tip that has recently worked really well for me: start a translation project!
Here are the steps:
- Find something in your target language that hasn’t been translated into English before. It could be a novel, a comic book, a children’s book, a movie, a TV show, a cereal box, a magazine, a blog, advertisements for a specific product, whatever. Any material will work, but the most important thing is that it should be something you are interested in. You should feel pumped about translating whatever it is you are doing.
- Find an audience. Someone who will read/follow your work. Preferably an online audience. Forums devoted to a specific topic are good. Starting a blog is a good idea too. Having an audience is important because it will make you accountable. Knowing that people are waiting to read your next installment will help motivate you to work on your project in a timely manner. Also, if people are commenting on your translations, telling you “good job” and “thank you for doing this for us”, you will get a warm fuzzy feeling inside and want to translate more and more.
- Translate in small chunks. For example, I’m doing a novel and I translate a couple pages at a time (usually 2-5 pages). This is workable and allows me to post/publish my translation at least once a week (often more). I also translate advertisements and previews for a Japanese video game that will be released next year. These tend to be short (1-4 pages) with lots of pictures, so I can usually pop them out as they come.
- Add words that you want to remember to your SRS. I usually don’t have to enter whole sentences for my translation projects. This is because I’ve gone over the material so many times during the translation process that seeing the word will instantly bring up the context. Often I don’t even need the SRS, because the words will come up again and again. Writers tend to reuse language, so you’ll run into the same words over and over again. My video game previews also repeat a lot of words.
- Go back and reread the original. After you translate something into English, wait a week or two and then go back and read it in the native language. Surprise, you don’t need a dictionary anymore and you have full comprehension! What the hell? It worked!
Do you have any language learning tips? If so, please share them!
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