5 Ways to Use Translation to Boost Your English Learning

Ofer Tirosh
Tomedes translation company details five ways to use translation to boost your English learning, from music and film to cooking.
learn English

How can I learn English quickly? In this day and age, you have plenty of ways to do just that. The wealth of resources online means that no matter what your preferred learning style is, you can find the right combination of materials, topics and support to boost your English learning rapidly. 

When it comes to learning a language, keeping the experience interesting can do much to speed up the pace of your learning. This is as true for English language learners as it is for students of other languages. Whether you’ve settled on the easiest or hardest language to learn, these five ways of using translation to boost your studies apply. We’ve applied them to learning English in this article, but they work just as well with other languages. Let’s dive in! 

1. Using music in translation

We sing to young children when they are first learning to talk, using music to help them learn everything from the alphabet to how to count. It’s an enjoyable way to help language skills develop. This is no less true for adults. If you’re familiar with a tune, then singing it in translation can be a quick and easy way to boost your vocabulary. 

Music can also be a way to help embed grammatical rules rapidly and ensure that they stick. 30 years ago, my German teach taught me to sing to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

“Aus, bei, mit, nach, seit, von, zu 

All take the dative and gegenüber too.”

I haven’t spoken a word of German for nearly 25 years, but the knowledge remains. Search online for ‘English grammar songs’ and you’ll be well on your way to using musical translation to boost your English learning. 

2. Literary translation

It’s impossible to calculate how many novels have been published in English – though Stanford Literary Lab has made a fair attempt at doing so. Even a ballpark figure of five million means plenty of choice for those using literary translation to aid their language learning. 

How can I learn English by myself? By reading! Whether you’re reading basic children’s books or poring over the latest bestseller, reading is a wonderful way to quickly boost your language skills. An English translation of one of your favourite novels is an excellent way to learn fast, as you’ll be familiar enough with the original to work out the most unfamiliar words without the need for a dictionary to translate them. 

3. Video translation and language learning

If you prefer your entertainment to be cinematic rather than literary, you’re still spoiled for choice when it comes to learning English. English-language movie output is just phenomenal and there’s also plenty of high-quality television to aid in your studies. 

Watching a subtitled movie means that you can listen to the English dialogue while reading the subtitles in your own tongue. You benefit from hearing the English pronunciation (a factor that’s missing from using books to boost your learning), while at the same time reading the translation in your native language. 

Of course, the great thing about using movies and TV shows to boost your English learning is that you get to watch some great quality content while you are doing so. Whether you’re into comedy, horror, action or a more obscure genre, you can learn English enjoyably with your feet up! 

Netflix is a great resource in this respect. Available in almost every country, the company has a strong commitment to translation, meaning that you should be able to choose from a range of subtitled shows in order to up your game linguistically.  

4. Taking translation into the kitchen

If you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, it’s time to get cooking in order to enhance your language learning. Whether you want to try your hand at making traditional English dishes or simply use English-language recipes for cooking your preferred style of food, taking translation into the kitchen can benefit both your vocabulary and your taste buds. 

At the same time as using recipes in translation, set yourself food-related vocab lists in order to enjoy an additional boost. Don’t only include food in your word lists – there are plenty of words for utensils, equipment and processes to learn while you’re spending time in the kitchen. 

5. Translate learning English into making friends

Our final way to use translation to boost your English learning is to reach out and make some new friends. Whether you do so via social media, by using one of the many freely available online pen-pal services or through any other method, the point is to find one or more individuals with whom you can correspond regularly in order to practice writing and reading in English. 

The social element of this approach means that you can make friends as you learn. It’s also nice to know that you are supporting your correspondent(s) to grow their own language skills, even as you develop your English. This is an excellent option for learners who are attempting to pick up the English language on their own and would like some support in doing so. 

Globally, more people speak English than any other language, though the majority of people do not speak it natively. As such, by learning English, you’re joining over a billion other people who speak it as a second language, as well as more than 400 million people who speak it natively. That’s plenty of choices when it comes to making new friends!

As we mentioned above, these five ways to boost your language learning can translate to any language that you’re trying to pick up. All five activities are either entirely free of very cheap to engage in, meaning that you don’t have to break the bank in order to significantly enhance your language learning experience. Using a mix of these five methods will keep your learning experience fresh and exciting, meaning that you can quickly increase your vocabulary and expand your knowledge of English while enjoying every moment.

Written by Ofer Tirosh for EnglishClub June 2020
Ofer Tirosh is CEO of Tomedes, a language service provider specializing in translation and interpretation services.


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