9 Foreign Language Tips for Men

Every man alive has had his fair share of Homer moments.

Let’s face it.  There’s a little bit of truth in every male stereotype.

Males tend to be more forgetful and less social, compared to the fairer sex.  We often misunderstand stuff or disregard important details.

Also, we aren’t always the best communicators.  Body
language, non-verbal cues and the emotional content of words are often lost on us.

Despite our constant brain farts and lazy tendencies, most of us men have a tendency to think that we’re quite awesome in every category.

Given all these problems and issues, how is the average guy supposed to learn a new language?

Learning a foreign tongue isn’t easy.  But it isn’t rocket science, either.  As a matter of fact, anyone can do it!

Keep reading to learn about an easy, fun and effective language learning method that involves watching a lot of TV.

1.  Watch subtitled YouTube videos.

Watching subtitled stuff is the lazy man’s way to pick up a second language.

Just watch whatever YouTube crap you normally watch while simultaneously reading the text at the bottom of the screen.  Believe it or not, exposing yourself to a language this way is highly effective.

It’s easy to activate subtitles on YouTube.  For popular videos, there are tons of different language options.

youtube_subtitles_select

 

DVDs are even better for learning languages, because you can change the audio track.  Click next to learn more about how to learn how a language sounds by changing your DVD settings.

2.  Using DVDs to learn a new language.

If you already know English and you want to learn a popular language like French or Spanish, you have many options.  Most English language DVDs contain French and Spanish subtitles as well as French and Spanish audio tracks.

Screenshot 2016-01-20 15.30.26

Let’s say that your native language is English and you want to learn French.  There are three ways to go about it.

  • Method #1: French language audio with English subtitles.
  • Method #2: English language audio with French subtitles.
  • Method #3: French language audio with French subtitles.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach.  For best results, use all three.

Click next to learn a specific learning strategy you can use while watching subtitled movies.

3.  Use visual context clues (NOT a dictionary) to figure out word meanings.

A dictionary can be a useful tool– but only if you use it only when you can’t figure out the meaning any other way.

Kids are better at picking up languages than adults.  Yet, kids almost never crack open dictionaries.  That’s because they use context clues to figure out the meanings of words and phrases.

Let’s say you want to Hungarian– one of the oldest, rarest, most complex languages in the world.  The dictionary alone won’t get you far.  There are over 20 different cases, which means that any single word can mean many different things.

Let’s not worry about all that stuff right now.  Instead, let’s load up YouTube, click the subtitle track button and select Hungarian.

Here’s a screenshot of a cartoon called Cyanide & Happiness.  It’s a dark, surrealistic English language indie comedy series that’s popular in Hungary.  Even without the help of the English audio, we can learn quite a few things just by looking at the situation.

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Here’s what we know just by looking at the screenshot above:

  1.  The doctor is talking to the woman.
  2. The woman’s name is Miss Livingston.
  3. The exclamation point shows that he’s surprised.
  4. Miss Livingston’s expression shows that she disagrees with whatever’s being said.
  5. There’s a kid in the cage.
  6. The kid is wearing some kind of animal costume.
  7. He’s also eating a carrot.
  8. Miss Livingston and the doctor are probably talking about the kid.

With these clues in mind, let’s move on to the next step of the process and start learning how to read Hungarian.

4.  Use common sense to translate the subtitles.

For now, just forget about grammar books and dictionaries.  You don’t need them to figure out this simple cartoon.

Using only context clues and the audio, you can translate almost all of the subtitle text just by using simple common sense.

When the doctor says “Miss Livingston, this is an adult human being inside of an animal costume,” the following Hungarian subtitle appears:

“Miss Livingston!  Ez egy felnőtt emberi lény, egy állat jelmezben.”

Can you guess which Hungarian word means “this?”  If you guessed “ez,” congrats.  You just learned your first Hungarian word– and you didn’t even have to crack open a dictionary or use Google translate to figure it out.

The more you watch subtitled movies and videos, the more your brain will start to see the patterns in the language emerge.  It won’t be long before you learn the basics: the names of the numbers, a few common nouns, days of the week, articles, simple grammar, etc.

After a while, the fog will begin to lift and the words will start to make sense to you.  Then, you’ll start to recognize common word clusters.

Click next to find out how easy it is to figure out new words with words you already know.

5.  Build on what you know.

In Hungarian, “ember” is a very common word.  If you continue to study Hungarian, you’ll see “ember” again and again.

Have a look at this image.

poster

See it?  There’s that word again, ember.  This time, ember has appeared next to another word, pók.

Here’s the text that we looked at before.

“Miss Livingston!  Ez egy felnőtt emberi lény, egy állat jelmezben.”

“Miss Livingston, this is an adult human being inside of an animal costume.”

Now, the meaning of ember should be obvious.  Ember means “man.”

Pókember means Spiderman.  Pók is Hungarian for spider, which is easy to remember because that’s what spiders do.  They poke you with their teeth.

Now that we’ve got ember down, let’s go back take a guess at emberi lény.

Click next when you’re ready to find out what it means.

6.  Don’t be scared of grammar.

If you guessed that emberi lény means  “human being,” congrats.  Yet another Hungarian word in the bank!

By the way, if you’re wondering what “i” is doing on the end of ember in emberi lény, you’ve already started learning Hungarian grammar.

The extra “i” indicates an adjective.

It’s easy to understand why Hungarians change the end of nouns when they become adjectives, because in English we (sometimes) do it too.

You can’t say “I think grammar is scare.”

You have to say “I think grammar is scary.”

Or at least, that’s what you used to say.   Grammar is actually not scary at all.  If you use the lazy man’s approach to learning languages described above, you’ll absorb grammar automatically as you go.

Have fun and good luck!