Looking back on my experience with the IB Spanish HL and IB French SL curriculum, I wanted to share a few resources and simple practices that I implemented in my IB language B studies that can hopefully help you when you feel stuck at a wall on your language-learning journey. If you are, no worries! That’s a natural part of mastering a language. Trust the process!
*Note: Most of these tips could probably be used when studying any language, but just keep in mind, I am basing them solely off of my experiences with the French and Spanish language.
1) Read Out Loud
One of the very simplest things I got into the habit of doing was reading material out loud. You might not expect it to make much of a difference, but I found that reading my assignments and articles out loud to myself helped to familiarize certain phrases and common transitional clauses without much of a conscious effort. This made it easier to seamlessly implement them into my OWN writing and my OWN oral presentations when it came time to do so.
2) Podcasts & Films
Try listening to podcasts and watching films or news in the target language and keeping a journal of words, conjugations, and phrases you aren’t familiar with. I know that Duolingo has French and Spanish podcasts available across different platforms, including Spotify, with corresponding transcripts available on their website. I definitely used them to freshen up on my French and Spanish during the summers leading up to a new academic year. Start by seeing if you can understand solely by listening then use the transcript to fill in any gaps, making sure to address and record anything new to you! PLUS, these podcasts are usually interviews with REAL people and cover a wide variety of experiences. Finding podcasts and films that particularly regard your passions could make revising your French/Spanish a lot less dreadful and a lot more intriguing!
3) Make the Most Out of Resources Provided by Your Teacher
It can be easy to overlook resources that you already have placed right in front of you! One of the resources that my teacher had our class use all the time was a site called Ver Taal (ver-taal.com). I found it to be a pretty useful resource for reading/listening comprehension because it contains listening exercises paired with a set of questions that go alongside them. You can use this site to watch and listen to songs, trailers, cultural videos, and news reports in French, Spanish, and a small assortment of other languages, after which you can effectively test your comprehension with the questions provided.
4) Break It Down!
One last tip I want to give you is to pay attention and break it down! What I mean by that is that if you come across a sentence that completely makes no sense to you, don’t be afraid to read it over multiple times and make sure to understand it before moving on. Break down each part of the sentence, look up definitions if needed, recognize conjugations, and identify what each word is referring to. You’ll be surprised how much extra revising you can save yourself just by doing this every time you come across an unfamiliar concept!
And here’s my little dose of encouragement for those of you who feel like you’re falling behind on your foreign language studies: Even just by you making the decision to take the class and reaching out to find help on ways you can improve, I can already tell that you are more than equipped to overcome this “brick wall” you might feel like you’re stuck at. Don’t be too discouraged and make sure to put in consistent effort 🙂 Learning new languages beyond the entry level is definitely not meant to be easy, and it sure was and still is a challenge for me too! It’s quite a process but there are so many resources and a whole community of people out there! Keep at it and I assure you the result will pay off!