Monday, March 2, 2015

Using Broadcast Media to Learn a Language

Last Friday, we began a series of posts on how to use various forms of media to learn a language, starting with a look at print media. Today we're back with a look at how broadcast media can help you achieve your linguistic aims, specifically radio, music, television, and film.

Radio towers in Nishapur, Iran

Thanks to the internet, you don't need to be in-country or living in a border region in order to listen to the radio in the foreign language you want to learn. The obvious advantage of the radio over printed media is that you can actually hear how the language sounds, which always helps with aural comprehension. It also helps improve your own speaking skills.


The great thing about music is that you can always have it on in the background. Hearing songs and learning the lyrics are a fun way to learn a foreign language. In fact, the first thing I ever learnt in Spanish was the lyrics to David Bisbal's "Ave Maria" in order to beat some Spanish friends at the "SingStar" video game. Admittedly, lyrics can often be obscure, but it can still help with your vocabulary and pronunciation.


Watching TV is great for your listening skills. Like radio, it allows you to hear how the language sounds. If you have a cable or satellite TV package, you may even get a few channels in the language you're trying to learn. Whether you watch the news, a series, or even a show you've watched in your own language dubbed or subtitled in the language you're trying to learn, you'll undoubtedly learn something new.

The Colonial Theatre in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, actually
features on the U.S. Register of Historic Places!

If you live in a big enough city, you should be lucky enough to have an alternative cinema or somewhere you can watch foreign-language films. Of course, don't go see a version of a foreign-language film dubbed into your own language or you won't learn anything! Subtitled films are great because you can always follow the story in your own language or, if you're advanced enough, ignore them and focus on the foreign-language audio.

If you don't have an alternative cinema or just prefer watching films from the comfort of your own home, consider buying foreign-language films to watch at home. That way you can always just turn the subtitles on and off as you see fit!

We'll be back on Wednesday with a look at how digital media can help you learn a language.

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