For a couple years now, I have picked up the hobby of learning languages, particularly Spanish and Portuguese. I really enjoy learning languages because it makes you learn about a new culture as well as learn new ways to express yourself in another language. I started learning Spanish because like every typical American student in high school, we had to pick a language class to take. Even though taking a language class was required, I decided to keep on taking Spanish classes in college. But I knew if I wanted to thoroughly enjoy learning a language, I would have to take the initiative and find other ways to further improve my language learning.
There have been various resources that I have found that have helped me with my language learning:
Music: I listen to a lot of reggaeton music. Reggaeton is a music genre from Puerto Rico that is influenced by the hip hop, latin, and Caribbean sounds and it is always in Spanish. Some of my favorite reggaeton artisits are Nicky Jam, Farruko, and Wisin Y Yandel. I will have to admit, it can be a little hard to understand their Spanish dialect because the Spanish from the Caribbean islands is a little different than Spanish from Mexican or Spain. Either way, I find that listening to this kind of music helps me learn new words as well as recognize some of the phrases that I do know and when I sing along to those songs, I find myself speaking Spanish without hesitation or without the concern of making a mistake. I also listen to sertanejo music, which is Brazilian countryside music. I really like the sound of sertanejo because of the accordion sound and I know that some of the lyrics of the songs don’t make a lot of sense once they’re translated into English, but that isn’t the point. The point is that I’m hearing the Portuguese being sung and it helps me learn new words and phrases, and the songs just so happen to be catchy!
“Uma língua coloca você em um corredor para sua vida. Duas ou mais línguas abrem todas as portas durante sua vida, então, mantenha uma calma e aprenda uma língua.”
Books: I don’t have a lot of books that I use when it comes to learning languages because everything is online, but I have acquired a few books that have come into assistance. I used the Imagina, 3rd Edition Spanish Textbook for my Spanish classes in university, and I really love that book. The back of the book has a whole dictionary which is very helpful. In each chapter and each section within the book, there are different topics and various vocabulary words, short stories, and short activities that relate to the topic. And throughout the book, there are different sections where different Spanish speaking cultures are talked about in great detail, such as the culture in Mexico and Chile. Another book that I have used for Portuguese practice is the Lonely Planet’s Brazilian Portuguese Phrasebook & Dictionary. That little book has all of the basics that you need to know in Portuguese. It’s a really handy book if you’re traveling to Brazil and you need to learn how to communicate with the locals.
“Hablar un idioma es asumir el mundo, una cultura.”
Online: I like to watch a lot of YouTube videos of different travelers that speak Portuguese or any of the romance languages actually. Sometimes they have English subtitles in their videos but I try and not use those so that I can see if I can put my skills to the test and see if I can follow along. I also like to utilize certain websites that are designed to help new people learn a language. One of the websites that I like to use is http://www.learn-portuguese-now.com; I like to use this website because of the mini lessons that are available to learn. Another website that I like to use it http://www.conjpt.cactus2000.de/index.en.php; I like this website because it is basically a huge conjugation table of every verb that exists in Portuguese. The last website that I really like to use is http://www.spanishdict.com because it is the savior for all things Spanish; it provides definitions and conjugations of verbs. Some other useful websites to meet conversation exchange partners are italki.com and conversationexchange.com. I don’t use a lot of apps when it comes to learning languages, but one app that I have used before and actually enjoyed was Duolingo. The app is designed for different levels of language learners and it’s really resourceful. And when in doubt, Google translate can be your best friend lol!
Friends: I have met various people from Brazil and other Spanish speaking countries, such as Mexico and Columbia, that have helped me with Spanish and Portuguese. Most of the time, it’s almost like a conversation exchange where they try and practice their English and I try and practice my Spanish or Portuguese. If you can’t physically visit the country where the language is always spoken, at least finding friends who you can constantly communicate with helps with the language learning because practicing with a native speaker is one of the best ways to keep up with language learning. It’s really fun to communicate that way because you feel a lot more comfortable speaking to someone who’s also trying to learn another language so you don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed if you mess up.
I am not fluent yet in Spanish or Portuguese and it will definitely take time before I become proficient or comfortable speaking those languages fluently. But I believe that with these resources that I have been utilizing, I’ll become more and more proficient in Spanish and Portuguese and I will become an even more well-rounded person with my multiple language speaking abilities. And the more and more that I travel, the more and more I will be exposed to more languages and cultures and the more my eyes will become open.