A strategy to make learning a language fun

To help get the basics of a new language, one of our members has an interesting supplementary approach – reading comics and watching cartoons.

Fundamental sounds

“Two years ago, my wife and I were preparing to move to Dusseldorf, so I decided to get a head start on learning German. I watched cartoons like Heidi  on television as well as Marvel films like Spiderman. I also read lots of comics and kids’ books,” says expat partner Kemal Tarakçı, a mechanical engineer from Turkey. “I find this to be a really effective way of learning a language as a complete beginner. With children’s literature and TV shows there’s a lot of repetition of words, phrases and basic sounds. There’s also a lot of action so it keeps your attention!”

Change of plans

But instead of relocating to Dusseldorf, Kemal and his wife eventually moved to Barcelona: “As it was working for my German studies, I’m using the same strategy to learn Spanish. Right now, I’m reading Geronimo Stilton, a series of comic books about a mouse journalist, in Spanish! The most important thing is finding a text that is the right level. When I was first learning German I bought books aimed at 10 year olds but they were a bit too advanced, so I got some picture books for 3-4 year olds that were just right!”

Additional strategies

“Besides reading comics and watching cartoons, I try to interact with the locals, when and where I can. I have a dog, a high-energy Border Collie, who needs regular walks. If you keep going to the same places at the same time, you quickly develop relationships with other dog owners and that creates more opportunities to practise my Spanish.”

Vamos! Venga!

“I also joined a gym opposite our temporary accommodation. There is always a social environment in a gym as guys urge each other to lift heavy weights. Here in Spain that means saying ‘vamos!’  or ‘venga!’  a lot! But I also try to chit-chat with the other guys in Spanish,” says Kemal. “To adapt to the local culture, and get a job, I have to learn the language so I’ll keep pushing myself. Sometimes it feels like you need to learn a language the hard way. Maybe that’s why I enjoy reading comics and watching cartoons? It makes something quite challenging feel much easier.”

Photos: Kemal Tarakçı

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