Learning foreign language with a toy instablogging
I'd like just to share my story of one unexpectedly efficient way to practice foreign languages that I've discovered for myself.
The main purpose of this post is to inspire everyone to find non-standard ways to improve your foreign language skills. However, if you decide to cheer me up by subscribing to my fellow traveler, I won't be raising an objection :)
So, here's my story. Some time ago I've started a seemingly weird hobby, which is running Instagram account for a small toy which I carry alongside me in my travels. How this all started deserves a whole separate narrative, which seems irrelevant to this topic.
What's important here is, whilst originally I was writing the captions for the photos only in Russian (my native language), over time I've noticed that I can profit from maintaining them in several other languages. From my experience, it allowed me to learn a whole slew of words, expressions and toponyms which I could hardly get from anywhere else, therefore enriching my dictionary.
So at this point, for each photo I'm maintaining at least 2 captions: in Russian and in English. When I have a little bit of time, I also add French and Dutch captions. From time to time I also write in German, but quite rarely, because my German is quite poor at the moment.
The captions can be expressed with a short messages (example: https://www.instagram.com/p/BVRllvSgxGx/) or sometimes contain a whole story which I learned or googled up and wanted to record somewhere (for instance, this one is about Moscow Garden Ring https://www.instagram.com/p/BVJdlVhALDV/ and here's the one about the windmill in Leiden, the Netherlands https://www.instagram.com/p/BUP-K-NgLcJ/).
Most of time the captions are literal translations of each other, but sometimes I try playing with words, with the result unique to each language (example: https://www.instagram.com/p/BVox3QZAcvK/).
In the end, this whole process turned out to be quite enjoyable and much more useful for my foreign language skills than I could ever anticipate. And it doesn't really take that much of my time.
So I really hope this tale would inspire some of you to try and discover your own non-standard way to the language mastery.
P.S. Oh, by the way, here you can check out the Instagram account I am talking about: https://www.instagram.com/thebestkonstantinintheworld/
Very cool! Social media is a highly underrated way to practice languages.
Instagram is a big part of how I practice Portuguese and Spanish. My hair type is very common in Brazil and there are plenty of Brazilian Instagrammers who blog hair tutorials and product reviews. So right there there's something of interest to me in Portuguese and I can practice by asking questions and making comments. I also follow a lot of Spanish language musicians on Instagram. When they're on tour, they're constantly posting stories about what they're doing and where they're performing, which serves as really fast and convenient listening practice.
I'm also on tumblr where there's a small but active community of language learners which I'm not really an active member of. I've considered starting a food tumblr blog in Tagalog because I'm familiar with food and cooking terms from years of cooking with my mom (who's from the Philippines), but I'm not great at forming sentences yet.
Exactly! Actually, there are a lot of small yet powerful tricks. For instance, I felt much more comfortable with French once I've switched my facebook interface to French language. I then did the same with other programs and services - to give you an example, I use Dutch interface in skype. Also, replacement helps. I mean, if I like some things in my native language or in English, like, well, documentaries, I try switching to listening to broadcasts related to the same topics, but in French, Dutch or Spanish. And it produces quite astounding result, given that I recently very rarely spend any time on deliberate language practice.