I'm a conference interpreting student who will start her second year in October. This summer I'll spend six weeks (not much, I know, but better than nothing…) in the country of my third C language in order to attend intensive language courses, from 4pm to 8 pm four days a week. So, beyond the course I'll have lots of free time… and I'm wondering, according to your experience, what's the best way to spend your free time in a country to improve your language skills? What activities would best suit my needs? It sounds indeed a dumb question, I know, but I've made mistakes in the past (going abroad with too a low level and ending up always speaking English with the locals… thus learning very little). I have one friend there and she said she will introduce me to her friends, who mostly don't speak English, so that's a good starting point, but if you have any other suggestions, they're more than welcome!
EDIT: I did not specify I'll go to Helsinki, just in case :)
Lastly and separately... think about not attending all those language classes. If you are at interpreting level with Finnish, then it's unlikely that a language class will have much to offer you and if you're sharing it with half a dozen other people then even less so. Do all of the above instead. If you do still need language classes think about staying longer than 6 weeks... like 6 months.
answered 11 Jul '14, 13:17
Excellent list, Andy. I especially like reading the textbooks and watching films.
What has helped me immensely is: - listening to music by local singers, usually in unplugged version (easier to understand the words, sometimes with texts) and singing along; - watching loads of locally produced talk-show television/local shows that explain how things work/local sitcoms (rather than American produced stuff with subtitles or dubbing); if possible, make sure to watch stand up comedians as well (with help); - carry a notebook around everywhere with you and note EVERYthing down - how they say "don't litter" or "no smoking" may be extrapolated to how they say other things that will come up; how they speak to customers in a store or what they write on notices posted on walls can be compared to how your A-language culture does the same thing, and will give you hints as to how to interpret things.
answered 12 Jul '14, 16:52
One thing I'd suggest is doing voluntary translation / interpretation.
Not sure what your other languages are, but chances are that if you introduce yourself to local hospitals, chambers of commerce, police stations, etc., they would love having you "on call" to help with on-demand interpretation. I've worked with a Chinese interpreter living in Australia, and she really improved her skills by doing volunteer interpretation at the local hospitals and police stations. She also had some pretty wild stories by the time she moved back to China!
Hope this helps.
answered 16 Jul '14, 00:13