A good way to make progress in another language is to set up your internet browser and computer software so that whatever language you are learning is the default one. For example, I have had Windows 8 (which in some respects I don’t particularly like) for about a year and Portuguese is the default; so the weather, news, travel and other ’tiles’ on the start screen all talk to me in Portuguese. (I don’t know how I did this, it happened semi-accidentally when I was familiarising myself with Windows 8 and experimenting with the settings) but if I can do it, it must be relatively easy. 😀 )
More important, though, is the use of your internet browser. Set it so that a useful website page in your language of study is the home page. Mine is the BBC Brasil world news page. Here is a screen grab from a section of it today.
Here you can read the headlines and a sentence or two about the major news – the death of Nobel Prize-winning author García Márquez, the strikes and other problems in Brazil, the latest tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and the South Korean ferry tragedy. And if there are any words you don’t understand, you can always call up the BBC’s English version of the story. Let me tell you, the BBC’s translators are much better than Google’s!
If the English version of the story you want is not on the BBC world news ‘Home’ or ‘World’ page, you may find it on the regional pages.
(Márquez’s death was prominent on the BBC’s home page in English, but for space reasons it was more convenient to snip it alongside the Brazil story).
why stop at one language?
The BBC also has pages in many other languages, but it doesn’t really have an European language focus. The Spanish and Portuguese pages are aimed at Latin American communities, and its French service at the French-speaking countries in Africa. Here are the links to the Romance languages. Unfortunately it does not have Italian and Romanian. You can also set up your internet browser so it calls up a suite of pages when you first open it. You could, for example, have the Portuguese, Spanish and French and English pages as your home pages. Here are the links:
- In Portuguese: http://www.bbc.co.uk/portuguese/
- In Spanish: http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/
- In French: http://www.bbc.co.uk/afrique/
- BBC languages list: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/languages/index.shtml
If your language is not available from the BBC, you can look at other reliable news media websites in your language of study. News outlets in Italy and Romania, for example, would have covered the ferry disaster story using a news wire service translation, and usually you can find the English and other language versions of that wire story somewhere.
You’ll be amazed at how quickly your comprehension of another language will improve if you spend just a few minutes a day reading the news headlines. Plus you are supporting journalists around the world, which is very important!
In forthcoming posts, I shall highlight good news and language sites in all my five Romances languages. If you have any that you recommend, please let me know. Cheers