Language Learning: Summer Beach Reads
You may not achieve fluency, but there is a lot you can learn from travel memoirs that include a few words in a foreign language or translations of your favorite books. What better time to pick up a few new books than when you can sit in the sun and dig your feet in the sand.
I recently read As the Romans Do: An American Family’s Italian Odyssey. The author, Alan Epstein, regularly incorporated Italian phrases for everyday items and situations. He rarely offered any translations for these words.
At first it was a little frustrating. Then I started to use the context of the paragraph to decipher these unfamiliar phrases. Just like English (or whatever your native language is) you can pick up the meaning by examining what else is being said.
By the end of the book I wasn’t stumbling over these foreign terms, I was trying to commit them to memory. The beauty of reading a book with a few new words is that you really don’t even have to try to remember them. You just absorb the new words like any other.
Need more books throw in your beach bag this summer?
- The Madeleine series of books by Ludwig Bemelmans takes you through Paris with an insatiable redhead who throws a few quick French phrases and architectural monuments into the mix.
- Huevos Verdes con Jamón (Green Eggs and Ham) by Dr. Seuss will add a little more challenge to your reading list this summer. If you thought this beloved Dr. Seuss book was a tongue twister in English, just wait until you try to read it in Spanish!
- Harry Potter Series is always a favorite in our house…for the adults. I’ve read the books in English at least 10 times. I picked up the first two in Spanish a few years back. I sit around with a dictionary and try to see how much I can understand. It’s surprisingly easy to guess where I am in each chapter and pick up a few new words along the way.
- Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull follows Sarah as she meets a man, falls in love and moves to Paris. She picks herself up a little West Highland White Terrier and desperately tries to figure out life in this sometimes closed off culture. French words popped up here and there. And I got a love story out of it. I can always use a little romance while I squish my toes in the sand, how about you?
- If you prefer your traveling to take more of a culinary twist follow the delicious adventures of David Lebovitz in The Sweet Life in Paris. You may gain 10 pounds before you are done. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
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