Thursday, May 25, 2017

How To Learn a New Language Easily & Affordably

I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I can't speak any Italian. No more than a few words anyway. Why is this born and bred mangiacake embarrassed? Because I've known my husband almost three decades. Which means I've known his Italian-born and raised parents for almost three decades. And they speak Italian at home. We went to Italy on our honeymoon. I sat in silence as my husband's lovely family members attempted to make conversation while my husband translated (reluctantly I might add).

But this isn't a story about me and my ignorance. Rather it's about my 12-year-old daughter. I begged my husband to teach the kids some conversational Italian when they were little. "Even just at feeding times," I helpfully suggested. That way they would learn Italian words related to food. And we all know those are the most important Italian words to learn. But it didn't happen.

Lately my sweet girl has taken a very strong interest in learning new languages. Italian for one. But also Spanish, because she has a friend at school who is from Spain. And sign language. Influenced by the TV show Switched at Birth, she has been studying the various types of sign language online. She even did her school speech about sign language recently. Of course I wanted to nurture this wonderful instinct to learn new languages. How great will it be if she can one day travel the world with four languages under her belt? Perhaps a career working with hearing impaired people is in her future?

For an affordable way of learning new languages, you really can't beat a good book, especially when it's accompanied by a cd or dvd. I turned to DK Canada for the well illustrated, informational books that I knew they would have for new language learners. They didn't disappoint. As you can see from the cover of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Conversational Sign Language my daughter has already made good use of this book (in the bathtub perhaps?). Communicating in sign language involves more than hand movements, the book explains. Facial expressions and body gestures help your message along. The book shows you how to express yourself in Contact Signing, a hybrid of American Sign Language (ASL) and Signed English (SE) and the most common form of communication between hearing and deaf people. It outlines the basics of fingerspelling, common signs and advice for interacting in school and work environments.

I have dabbled with 15-Minute Italian myself. It's actually a lot of fun. There's a book and two audio cds. It's a suitable guide for those preparing to travel to Italy, as the book is broken down into sections such as introductions, eating and drinking, getting around and shopping. Each Italian word is spelled out phonetically too (because pronunciation is a big challenge, obviously). Of course, if that's not enough, you can hear the words and follow along on the cds as well.

DK's Spanish Language Learner is meant for children, but I really think this kit works for beginner adults as well. Basically we start off like children when we are learning a completely new-to-us language, right? Except we probably learn less quickly than children. Haha. The enclosed flash cards are a fun way of reinforcing learned words. There are clear, colourful, cute pictures on one side - a penguin, a parrot, a bear, a whole bunch of numbers. There are several engaging games outlined in the book, using resources such as the flash cards and illustrations in the book itself. Children (and their parents) can play the games in pairs to make learning more social. Photographs accompany the words and a cd helps with pronunciation.

What languages do you speak? Are there other languages you would like to learn?

Find These Books:

In Canada:
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Conversational Sign Language Illustrated
15-minute Italian: Speak Italian in Just 15 Minutes a Day
Spanish Language Learner

In the US:
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Conversational Sign Language Illustrated (Idiot's Guides)
15-Minute Italian
Spanish Language Learner

Pin it for later:
easy & affordable ways to learn a new language - with kits for Spanish, Italian and sign language

*I was provided with books for review purposes. All opinions are authentic and my own. Thank you for supporting the awesome companies that partner with Woman in Real Life. This post contains affiliate links.


  1. Hi Joann,

    My first language is Spanish, went to Italian school and speak French with difficulties. Survived during my visit to Montreal! Ha, ha, ha!
    Started learning English and Italian as a child. I love music in English very much. Trying to understand the lyrics was so much fun and made my learning process much easier. Today I watch TV in Italian and love it! I believe that people can learn a language doing something fun. Grammar is brutal! Do you agree?

    1. That's wonderful that you can speak a few languages Gabriela! I studied French through to first year of university but I'm afraid I've retained very little of it! My in-laws constantly watch Italian TV! Yes, I agree you can learn while doing something fun. And grammar IS brutal in other languages.