Tag Archives: language

How Do You Say That Again?

It happens to us all.

You’re all proud of the language skills you acquired during your three years of high school Spanish or semester studying abroad in France or even two years in a village in Africa, and the poof – you forget how to spell “read” in Spanish or conjugate the verb “to smell” in French.

You fear you’ve lost your language cred and instead of welcoming the chance to speak to people in another language, you pretend to have a sore throat or a headache.

Just a hint, people see right through that.

You also can’t use the excuse that “I keep melanging my English and French” or “Yo no creo que yo puedo hablar anymore.”

So how can you cheat your way back to some semblance of language proficiency? Because let’s face it: you have too many responsibilities to consider jetting back to Africa or Nice or high school.

Here are some free and easy ways to get back in the game.

Online Translators
If you’ve seriously never mastered a language, don’t try this trick. Without a basis in the language, you’re apt to translate your words and phrases into the clunkiest most nonsensical violations of language – all language – known to humanity.

But if you’re familiar with the language, this can help jump-start your brain when you just can’t remember the word for “peach” in Spanish (hint: melocotón according to Google Translate and Yahoo! Babelfish.)


I did a simple search on www.youtube.com for “speak Spanish” and came up with this video. There are many, many more like it. One caution – as with all Youtube videos, be careful about reading, or allowing children to read, any comments on any of the videos. Some people don’t have any sense in any language.

iTunes Podcasts

If you have an ITunes account, just go to the online store, click on podcasts, and click on “Language Learning” on the far right side of the screen. Then just take your pick.

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If You Put It On the Bookshelf . . .

Eventually, they will read it.

Tonight, my son chose – of his own volition, I swear – a French book a friend bought for him when he was born.

It only took him 6 years to find it and pull it off the shelf and demand that I read it – first in French and then roughly translated into English.

So I guess what I’ve learned is that it’s okay to passively introduce some things to a child and trust that he or she will reach out for them when they’re ready.

And it also helps that I forgot about the book or else I probably would have suggested it as often as Quiero a Mi Mama Porque . . . and our Spanish-language selection of Dora and Diego books, thereby rendering it the equivalent of kid kryptonite.

Live and learn.

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