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Language learning

Well, in the process of setting up this delightful new blog, I have been adding some blogs to my reading section, including a number of El Pais’ blogs, which are often good entertainment.

I try to keep up with a number of different media sources (generally via Twitter, if I’m honest), first because it is useful to keep practising with languages that I don’t really use day-to-day anymore, and second because it is simply useful for work (you would be surprised how much reporting differs between the UK, France, Spain and Germany). In the long run, I know it will take a bit more than this to maintain my language skills, though, so I’m trying to get more creative about it!

I recently downloaded quite a few lectures/other learning materials from iTunesU in French and Spanish that I hope I will listen to more actively than music (let’s be honest, sometimes it’s impossible to understand singing in one’s native language, let alone second/third!). Still, I doubt that will take me much further than casually perusing tweets and blogs. (I will try to use this blog to practise written language skills.)

This might all be a very good argument for pushing my PhD proposal in a Comparative Literature direction rather than an English one. In my heart of hearts, though, I would just love it if Coursera (or EdX, or someone else) would start up a French/Spanish MOOC. There’s nothing like a little bit of old-fashioned learning discipline to improve one’s motivation! This is probably why US CompLit programmes that require you to demonstrate working knowledge of three/four languages appeal to me a lot more than UK ones, which tend to not mentioning any such requirement. Of course, that requires one to have the luxury of four-to-six years for PhD work, rather than the British standard of three-to-four!

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